Does music really have an effect on our furry friends?
by Ontario SPCA and Humane Society | General Pet Care Interesting | August 30, 2022
Humans have playlists for just about everything these days. A playlist to workout, a playlist to clean, even a playlist to work. Scientific studies have proven the music can affect brain waves, heart and breathing rates, and even reduce anxiety levels in humans. But can it have the same effect on your animal friend?
The science behind music
In a study published in 2015 in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, researchers from the University of Lisbon reported that cats who underwent a spay responded physiologically to the music they were listening to during their procedure. Even under anesthesia, the nervous system still responded to the music playing. Changes in respiration rates and pupil dilation in cats exposed to the calmer music suggested they were more relaxed than the group of cats that were listening to AC/DC.
Auditory enrichment activities
While there are currently limited scientific studies on the effects of music on animals, there is an overwhelming interest in exploring music as auditory enrichment in the shelter world.
“We utilize music at our animal centres across the province as part of our enrichment program. Calm classical music for dogs and cats and white noise for small animals provides comfort and relaxation during their time with us,” says Megan Holmes, Animal Behaviour Coordinator, Shelter Health & Wellness, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society.
The Shelter Health & Wellness team at the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society put together some auditory/hearing activities designed for shelter environments that can easily be applied to the home setting. Here are a few things to note when using music around your furry friend:
- Classical music may increase the amount of time dogs spend sleeping and resting
- Choose music that has been specifically designed for the species in mind
- In general, long, slow continuous sounds decrease activity levels, while short, rapidly repeated sounds tend to increase them
- If any music is played for cats, it should be music composed specifically for cats. Cats prefer music with a pitch one octave higher than people, and in a tempo based on purring and suckling. Cats mostly ignore classical music and can respond dramatically to their own special tunes. Bird sound CDs can also be played as a source of enrichment and entertainment.
This is a great place to get started if you are interested in seeing if your animal friend responds positively to music. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) highlights how playing classical music for dogs in their shelter helps to provide comfort. They also recommend creating a variety of playlists and alternating them with periods of quiet time. Having the same music playing all day every day can cause the animals to filter it out, thus defeating the purpose. Find out what music your pet likes by visiting our blog, What kind of music does my pet like?
Noise reduction and monitoring effects
It’s important to monitor the effect of the introduced sound or music on animals since they cannot avoid the noise if they don’t like it. Not all animals have the same affection for music, and in some cases, animals may react better to the reduction of noise as opposed to the introduction of new sounds. Observing your dog or cat’s reaction can help determine whether some music selections might cause agitation or increased vocal behaviour. For more tips on noise reduction in your home, visit shelterhealthpro.com.
Paying attention to your companion animal’s auditory surroundings can help them in many areas of their lives, especially reducing stress. Like all enrichment activities, start off slowing and get a feel for your companion’s reaction. For more tips on music enrichment for animals and hearing/auditory tips and tricks, visit shelterhealthpro.com for other great ideas for your furry friend.
As an animal lover all the work you do
As an animal lover all the work you do to help ensure that every dog and cat can find their forever home that is filled with love is greatly appreciated.