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The healing effects of music

As published in Canadian Dogs Annual
The healing effects of music

Sound is a major factor of our surroundings, especially in today’s loud, fast-paced world. Noise pollution can create stress for both animals and humans, while healing music can calm us and improve our lives.

The effects of music have been well documented in humans, and studies with animals have revealed that it also has a powerful effect on them. Country tunes can calm ponies while classical music helped cows produce more milk and improved the growth rate of chickens. A recent study in cats demonstrated that calming music increased the depth of anesthesia during surgery. Dolphins, meanwhile, have been known to swim in synchrony to Bach.

A study done in Ireland found that classical music is the preferred calming sound source in dog shelters. Research done by Through a Dog’s Ear took this further and applied the principles of resonance, entrainment, and the orienting response to classical selections. It discovered that slow, psychoacoustically-arranged single instrument (piano) music had the most calming effects. Upwards of 70% of dogs in shelters and veterinary offices, and 85% of dogs in home environments, became noticeably calmer with this music. It was also found to reduce twice as many anxiety behaviours in fearful dogs as standard classical selections did.

Do a Sonic Evaluation

Take a minute to listen and note down all the sounds you (and your dog) hear – the results may surprise you. Creating a healthy sound environment with appropriate music may improve your well-being as well as that of your four-legged family member.


Dr. Susan Wagner is a veterinary neurologist and pioneer in the area of the human-animal bond. She offers integrative medicine at MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets, and is a Healing Touch for Animals practitioner. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and co-author of Through a Dog’s Ear.

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