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

Updated on July 10, 2013
midget38 profile image

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?

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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.

Fireworks

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.

Boarding

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

Conclusion

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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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      On the benefits of music for our pets.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      So very interesting and something that truly does make a load of sense, but seriously didn't even think of. Thanks for sharing Michelle and have f course voted up and shared all over, too!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      True words Michelle....our dogs love gentle music...ACDC, not so much. LOL

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 3 years ago from Northern California

      Aw I never knew that there was such a thing as the pet music industry! Listen up readers if you have any pet problems. Certainly thunder storms are always a problem for pet owners. Interesting article here.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image

      Annette R. Smith 3 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      My cats LOVE music -- even cell phone ringtones and the songs that play in YouTube videos or musical greeting cards. They seem to enjoy when I sing to them, too. I enjoyed reading this, Michelle, and I'm happy to share the link socially.

    • myconsumerboard profile image

      myconsumerboard 3 years ago

      Pets really are just like us :) It makes sense that they too benefit from music.

    • ladydeonne profile image

      Deonne Anderson 3 years ago from Florence, SC

      midget38,

      This hub is awesome! I have always used music as a therapy for my dogs over the years. I use music that I find or listen to on CDs or the radio. I also buy music therapy programs specific to my dog's needs. My beloved Sinbad who died in 2005 loved to hear Mariah Carey's voice. Whenever he heard her music, he would sit up with ears pointed towards the source of the music and then lie down right next to it and howl along, He was a hybrid wolf. After he got old and had a series of surgeries, he was always more calm and alert when listening to her sing. My two year old Red Nose Pit who is very hyper at times, calms down and takes a nap while listening to Mozart. When ever we leave our dogs alone in our home, we play their favorite music. When my beloved Bandit was euthanized in 2009, I sang "You are My Sunshine," his favorite song to him before he left me. He raised his head off the table and looked at me oh so lovingly. Voted up and sharing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Another helpful hub Michelle. Why shouldn't pets like music? Doesn't music soothe the savage beast?

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, J9!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      No, no AC/DC!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Quite fledgling, Starstream!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Sounds like my little Shnau, Annette!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes they do, my consumer board!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Sinbad sounds just like my Misty. They love music, but transposition is not their forte!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it does, Mary!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      It makes perfect sense to me that pets would repsond to music. They react to your tone of voice, so why not music also. This hub is very interesting and useful.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 3 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I've used both music and TV to quiet and relax my pets for a while now. Really good hub. Thanks for all the info.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

      I was aware about the therapeutic value of music. In fact, when ever I feel low, I listen to music of my choice and the sadness is gone. I have heard about animal and music connection, but have never tried this even though I have cows and dogs.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Pamela!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, alekhouse! Yes, it works!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      I just played a soothing CD for Cloudy, Vinaya, and it does work. Give it a shot!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great advices, Michelle!

      I think quiet music is good for humans and animals alike.

      Slow tempo music, increases milk production with cows.

      Personally, I like to always have calm music for my cats (with a timer) when I go away on holidays.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it is, Kidscrafts! Yup, leaving calm music on when we step out of the house reduces the separation anxiety a little.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Really interesting! I am a musician and animal-lover but never thought to play music for my pets. I always thought they'd prefer peace and quiet. Soothing music sounds like a great alternative though. Thank you for this well-written article! ~Lurana

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 3 years ago from California

      As an animal lover I really enjoyed this and will definitely be trying out some of the tunes. Music can also benefit pet parents

      I have been completely transformed at times simply by hearing a calming song which obviously affects those around us including our animal friends. Great hub. Voted up

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it helps! Thanks, Lurana!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      It does make a difference, doesn't it! Thanks, Cahtkath!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Missed this the first time around. How fascinating, and yes, why shouldn't animals respond to music. Makes so much sense. Lovely hub, packed with information. Cloudy must be an expert at head phones by now! Up and sharing.,

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      She is. She is my pair of headphones, Travmaj!

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