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The benefits of music for animals : suitable music for our pets

Updated on July 10, 2013
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How do you react when Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

Cloudy trying to get used to a pair of new headphones.
Cloudy trying to get used to a pair of new headphones. | Source

By Michelle Liew

"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak."

William Congreve

Music has a therapeutic effect, not just for ourselves, but for our beloved pets too. LIke all of us, our pets’ emotions are stirred by music, positive or otherwise, dependent on the kind they are exposed to.

Listening to music certainly has benefits for our pets, just as it does for us. It is a charming challenge to try to discover the kinds of music our pets prefer. This article will also address the occasions when we should be using music therapy for our pets.

The earphones are apparently too big for her, so a change is due.
The earphones are apparently too big for her, so a change is due. | Source

The benefits of music therapy for pets

Sound therapy has become a popular and effective way to soothe the nerves of our beloved pets. As a music teacher and lover, music is certainly therapeutic and I am sure I am not the only one who will affirm that. It is also therapeutic for my dogs, Misty and Cloudy.

It associates animals with calm.

Music invokes calm as it teaches our pets what that feels like. It helps the pet through many tense situations it encounters by leading them to a sense of calm as it experiences them.

It is a calming influence for when an owner is not around.

It decreases the emotional distress of being apart from its owner, assuring them of their owners’ presence.

I usually leave soft instrumental music playing on my computer when I step out of the house and this helps to calm my energetic West Highland Terrier, Cloudy, a dog with mild separation anxiety.

Introduces familiarity

Pets respond to repetition and association. By playing its calming, favorite CD tracks, a familiar sound is provided and hence security.

My 12-year-old schnauzer, Misty, responds well to familiar sounds. She particularly likes it, for an odd reason, whenever the key of A is played on the piano and will start singing immediately.

Slows the heart rate

This parallels the situation in people. Of course, as our heart rate slows, so does tension and blood pressure.

Speeds up the recovery of convalescing animals.

The relaxing power of imusic helps us to recover after illness. Pets too, would benefit from a speedier recovery when given a little music to listen to.

It increases endorphin levels

Positive music increases the endorphin or happiness levels in us. It also puts our pets in a more relaxed and happier state.

It increases immunity.

Pets become more immune to illnesses after listening to a little relaxing music. The stress releasing power of music helps to boost a person’s immune system, and the same applies to pets.

The animal is more balanced.

Music increases endorphins, and the relaxed nature of music helps it to make better behavioral decisions.

It also discourages unsociable behavior like barking and chasing.

The case of Cassie the Cow

The music is not just beneficial for dogs. It also helps other animals like cows when they are in anxious moods.

Cassie the cow, who lives at Maple Farm Sanctuary in Mendon, Massachusetts, jumped a seven foot high fence to escape from the slaughterhouse, a situation not surprising.

A volunteer played a collection of harp songs to soothe her after finding her stomping and jumping. In 20 minutes, the cow doze off.

Harp music can produce subtle overtones that cannot be detected by the human ear, but are certainly perceptible to an animals.

Do your pets listen to music?

See results

What kind of music do our animal friends like?

People cannot be faulted for having the tendency to think that the music our pets like will necessarily be the same as our pets. We tend to project these feelings and desires onto our animals.

Here are a few things to remember about the kind of music our pets might prefer.

Animals prefer music with pitches and tempos associated with something familiar

As in the case I illustrated above with my dog, Misty, who likes the sound of the piano, the music that animals like is associated with the sounds they are familiar with.

Animals prefer music with pitches and tempos associated with something familiar

As in the case I illustrated above with my dog, Misty, who likes the sound of the piano, the music that animals like is associated with the sounds they are familiar with.

Animals lack relative pitch

In other words, this means that animals are not attuned to tones. When a piece of music is transposed a key higher or lower, they cannot establish a relationship between the notes.

Not all pets will like the music we do. Researchers attempted to compose music for a group of tamarinds, which sounded harsh, shrill and unpleasant. However, it wasn’t so for the little monkeys, who actually associate with such sounds.

Animals find the music we do a little unrecognizable.

For most of us, whether we like instrumental music or otherwise, we relate to music that fits into our vocal range, is listenable and singable.

Yet, to animals, this falls into the realm of the unrecognizable. Some exploring the pet music industry have produced CDs with embedded sounds and pitches that are soothing to pets and people (yes, I nearly fell asleep while writing this.) I shall share these later. The pitches of certain instruments, such as the harp, have a calming effect on them.

MIsty with a pair of headphones
MIsty with a pair of headphones | Source

Suitable times to introduce music therapy to our pets

Music can be used to attend to a range of behavioral issues in our pets. It is an antidote for the common behavioral issues that owners sometimes face.

Separation anxiety

Putting soothing music on before you leave the house can help to resolve anxiety issues in our pets. Leave it on about 10 to 20 minutes before leaving the house to allow the soothing rhythms to take effect.

Leave for a short time at first, and gradually increase the length of time to give the animal the opportunity to get used to you leaving.

Fear of thunderstorms

The fear generated by changes in weather patterns can be tough to treat, because animals instinctively know when these changes will occur, usually long before they do. Birds were seen heading for higher ground long before the tsunami struck in 2004. Closer to home in Singapore. some squirrels went to the ground from atop the trees before a recent overwhelming haze coming from Indonesia struck.

How this translates to thunderstorms? Our pets know when they are about to occur, and you might observe him cowering long before. If you cannot tell, check the weather forecast and if it bodes rain, get your music players ready before.


If fireworks are scheduled near your area and your little dog or cat gets tense when he hears them, get your CD player ready before. It can help to make the animal less tense.

Visitor excitement

Dogs tend to have a problem being too excited about the presence of visitors. What we can do as owners is to get a CD player with relaxing music ready before they come over, as the key to a successful social visit with our dogs around is to keep them calm. This is true especially if the visitor is afraid of dogs.

Stressful times

Stressful times for people can also be stressful times for pets. I have to admit that I can be snappy with my dogs when I am under duress.

Calming music that soothes both owner and pet can be very apt.


If you run a boarding facility or are sending a dog for boarding for a holiday period, it is a good idea to keep soothing music for pets playing. Many such facilities already have this in place.=

Pet Music

Here are some tracks that our pets, and their owners, are sure to relax to. They have been infused with the instruments and pitches that pets can relate to, like the harp. Do enjoy.

Relaxing music for our pets

Music to help your dogs with separation anxiety

Songs designed to calm your pet

More relaxing music

Sleep Music for Dogs and Cats


Pets and humans certainly benefit from therapeutic music. I would like to thank those who answered the question “What music is suitable for pets?”


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