Pet music therapy can help solve dog and cat behavior problems as well as offer physical therapeutic benefits. Our pets are attuned to sound and are incredibly sensitive to noises, including music.
With Valentine’s Day celebrations just around the corner, some pets with “stranger danger” issues are in for a rough ride (tips here for helping when pets hate your date!). Pet music therapy can also help, so read on.
CAT FACTS, THE SERIES only from Amy’s Newsletter
I’m sharing this information from my PET MUSIC THERAPY entry from Cat Facts: The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia.
I’ve broken the massive CAT FACTS book into catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every week or so, but ONLY for subscribers on my Amy’s Newsletter Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.
WHAT IS PET MUSIC THERAPY?
Pleasant music can mask scary noises like thunder, or upsetting sounds like a trespassing cat’s vocalizations that put your pet’s tail in a twist. But more than that, the cadence of certain sounds influences the body’s natural rhythms and can speed them up and energize the listener, or slow them down to calm him.
For instance, a fearful cat can be soothed with music or distracted with nature sounds like water running from a fountain. Lethargic pets that need to exercise can be energized with chirping bird sounds or fast music to get up and boogie to the beat.
WHY PET MUSIC WORKS
Sound causes physical changes in the body. Brain waves change with different kinds of sounds—music with a pulse of about 60 beats per minute slows the brain waves so the listener feels more relaxed and peaceful and shifts the consciousness into a more alert state. This rhythm also slows breathing, which calms the mind and improves the metabolism. It works for humans, and also for our pets.
Even the heart wants to follow the pulse of the music—faster rhythms energize the listener as his heartbeat increases and blood pressure rises, while slower tempos calm. Listening to music releases endorphins—natural painkillers that are produced by the brain—and reduces the levels of “stress hormones” in the blood.
MUSIC IS SOUND MEDICINE
Sound therapy is still considered pretty new. One of the best known applications is ultrasound that uses the “echo” of high frequency sound waves to take diagnostic pictures inside the body—doctors even use it to break up kidney stones with vibration instead of surgery. Over the last 20 years, music therapy has become a staple of the human mental health profession, and is often used with troubled children and brain-disordered patients.
Today, harp music is used to relieve pain that drugs don’t help, soothes emotional upset, and has become of particular help in hospice situations for human patients. The sound of harp music calms fractious cats and offers almost a natural sedative effect so that the upset animals become quiet, and go to sleep.
HOW TO USE PET MUSIC THERAPY
The simplest way to treat cats with music is to put on a CD or turn on the radio. Choose music you like—pets seem to respond best to music their owners enjoy because of the bond you share. If you have favorite music you often play, your pet will associate the sound with your presence, so playing that same music when he’s alone will remind him of you and help ease problems like separation anxiety. Play the music for at least 10 to 15 minutes at a time to get your pet in the right mood.
LOUD, SOFT, CLASSICAL OR ROCK?
Soft music with a slow, steady rhythm helps calm agitated pets. It can help arthritic cats relax their muscles and increase their range of motion. Many pets enjoy Mozart or other classical music. New Age, soft jazz, nature sounds or even ballad-type Country can be soothing. The music should be melodic (not dissonant) and the tempo even and slow. You can play calming music anytime your pet feels stressed, or all day long as a background to help keep him calm.
Turn up the volume to energize your pet. Moderate to loud music with a more driving beat energizes the emotions and can encourage lethargic pets to exercise and lift depression or grief. Rock music, even the driving energy of Rap may get a pet’s tail moving, but any up-tempo music from classical to contemporary has the power to energize.
Do your pets like music? Is it part of your doggy or cat protocol? What style of music do you (and your pets) prefer? Seren does her lion “cough-cough” when I hit a wrong note on the cello, and Magical-Dawg howls along when I sing too high. What about your furry wonders? Do tell!
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Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE! Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!