I would like to begin by saying that I am a snob. A classical music snob, to be exact. And as a classical musician myself, I tend to feel a little irked when people refer to the genre as a whole as “relaxing”. I am going to rant about that for a moment, and then I will explain what this has to do with your dog, and your trip to the vet.
“I like to listen to classical music when I study.” “I can fall asleep to classical music.” “Classical music puts me to sleep.” I would bet all of Beethoven’s discography that you have heard at least one of these sentiments. I suppose that the root of the problem is that we associate the blanket term “classical music” with the sound of a piano playing alone, or perhaps a small string orchestra playing a baroque piece. But classical music is so much more! I certainly couldn’t fall asleep to a Shostakovich symphony. Or Mahler! (Unless it is the Symphony No. 5 Adagietto. Go listen to that, you will cry! Not that I want you to cry, but sometimes crying can be nice. You know what, you should go cry. You will feel better.) Have you listened to the Unanswered Question? The Rite of Spring? It is both calculated and spontaneous magic; it is earth-shattering genius! How can you sleep in the presence of such genius? Also, did I mention I’m a snob? I hereby conclude my rant.
A study done this summer at UC Davis studied the relationship between classical music and owner/pet anxiety in and out of the waiting room. Their sample size involved 74 dogs, each of whom had their anxiety level rated by their owner. When not evaluating their experience in the waiting room, owners and their dogs were placed in one of three rooms: two of which were playing classical music, and one of which was not. Several conclusions were made…
1. The owners consistently felt that their dogs were more anxious in the waiting room compared to in the exam room. This isn’t a huge surprise for us! Here at Heart of Chelsea and Lower East Side Animal Hospitals, we always do what we can to get your pet into an exam room as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you have a fearful cat or an aggressive dog, let the front desk know so that we can better assist you.
2. Owners believed that playing classical music had no effect on the anxiety level of their dog. This is a bummer, but as my dog has never once applauded during my practice sessions, I am not surprised. This doesn’t mean that I have forgiven her.
3. Okay, here is the big one. This one gets me all excited inside. Owners rated their own personal satisfaction with their time spent at the vet considerably HIGHER (!!!) when they were placed in a room with classical music. THIS IS VERY COOL! These owners were not aware what variable was being studied, and still consistently felt happier with their visit if they were listening to classical music!
So, why the long rant before? Because classical music now has been objectively proven to MAKE US HAPPIER PEOPLE, which means we should listen to it more – and not just when we’re studying or sleeping! Going to the vet can be very stressful for people and their pets, but a few of my closest friends Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss, Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Nielsen, Mahler, Schumann, Schubert, Wagner, Hanson, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, and Dvorak can help. Oh, and like, a thousand more.
written by Lauren Gamiel, veterinary assistant