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Holiday Music To Sooth Your Beasts

December 6, 2010 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode
‘Tis the season to deck someone’s halls… er… I mean to be stressed!

We all know how crazy the holidays can be and how stress can impact our health. Did you know that research shows it’s true for our pets, too?

…"accidents" in the house, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in appetite, destructive behavior, excessive self-grooming... the list goes on and on… and, then there’s your pet’s behavior (hee…)

The same people who created developmental music CD’s for babies and stress-reduction music for us humans has also extended their research to create a line of music CD’s to help sooth our furry little beasts.

A bit’o trivia: This famous quote is always misquoted, actually. The original, "Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak," was penned by William Congreve, an English dramatist. PS – He’s also the wizard noted for the notorious: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." (love a good history lesson…)

Anyway, back to the music. If your house is like mine, you have cats swinging from the garland and tree ornaments and dogs playing fetch with any decoration that the cats bat their way. My stress level automatically goes into overdrive which in turn instantly puts my pets on alert and causes them to act even more crazy during this hectic season.

Instead of just leaving the radio or TV on for them when I go to work, I can actually buy holiday music that has been designed just for my pets – to put them at ease and calm their ‘hair’ed nerves. I’ve been listening to a sample website all morning and find it very relaxing. I’ve been able to delay taking a nerve pill today for several hours vs. my normal 9 a.m. dose.

But like everything, I wanted to know HOW the music works, how it’s designed to calm my creatures.

Okay, so we know that research shows that relaxing music improves your mood and puts animals at ease. But, I wanted to know HOW.

The music I’ve been listening to and anxious (probably not the best word) to try out on my clan, was created by Tom Nazziola. He’s the producer and performer of Disney’s Baby Einstein music series. As a pet lover, he expanded his realm to reach out to his fur kids, as well. His “Holiday Treats” CD is part of his Music My Pet CD collection. He explains that “it uses only those core musical elements that were proven to have a calming effect on pets. The holiday music has been re-orchestrated with a soothing dynamic that helps our pets (and us) to relax.”

Janet Marlow, another musician and pet behavior expert, has also composed such music. As co-founder of Pet Acoustics, she explains that her orchestrations use instrumental melodies and upbeat styles to promote calm by accommodating pets’ and kids’ hearing acuteness. Each track is acoustically modified in frequency and decibel to stay within the comfortable range of both listeners, two-legged and four-legged. And, we all know how sensitive, and acute, our dogs’ and cats’ hearing can be, as well as that of young children.

Experiments show that we respond to sounds that we cannot hear. At a national laboratory known for its atomic energy research activity, they are exploring the function of the brain with a technique called tone mapping. According to their studies, specific bundles of neurons in the cerebral cortex of the brain are activated by specific frequencies. This is observed and measured by Neuro-Magnetic-Resonance-Imaging, similar to a CAT scan.

They’ve discovered that when selected sounds are put exclusively into a pair of headphones and then put them on person's ankles, the person responded to the sound even though their ears could not "hear" the sound. This is over-simplifying the body’s phenomenal process, but they say once you vibrate a part of the body the blood cells carry this resonance to the whole body very quickly. Research done with deaf children also showed that the children could identify different sounds and instruments by laying on a giant membrane and having the sounds played through it.

Therefore, playing the specially mixed CD’s should provide not only a sense of balance and well being for both you and your pets but provide a good cure for pets that suffer from separation anxiety and thunderstorm nerves.

Because I have Gracie-Gone-Wild and Ginger-the-snortin’-wart-hog-Retriever at home, I will let you know how the calming music works on them. Bo, my other kitty, and Oakley, my other comatose Golden on the other hand may fall directly to sleep when I hit play.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of the music CDs created for pets or have a personal favorite to recommend.

Here’s to a soothing season and tinsel untouched…

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