by Kate Russell
Poorly pets have one less thing to worry about. Kate Russell finds out how White Cross Vets are taking the stress out of visiting the vets.
Visits to the vet can make for scaredy cats and doleful dogs, but a Leeds-based veterinary group are taking the stress away by playing specially composed chill-out tunes to their four-legged friends.
Patients at the White Cross Vets in Guiseley are some of the first in the UK to hear the ground-breaking new sounds, aimed at speeding up recovery by reducing nervous behaviour in pre- and post-op pets.
And it’s not just some dreamy soft-touch stuff – the music has been designed based on the findings of pioneering research into how dogs’ nervous systems respond to sound. It tunes in to key trigger points in cats and dogs and is twice as effective as traditional classical music in keeping creatures calm, says clinical director Craig Harrison.
He explains: “By implementing this forward thinking development we are taking another step that will enable the much loved pets in our care to be more relaxed. The calmer a pet is then the less likely they are to become distressed in a new environment and the smoother their recovery process will be.”
The music for dogs was written by a psychoacoustic expert, who is also an expert in dogs, and it sounds a lot like classical piano music but slowed down and lowered in tone. The cat music was composed using a specifically designed sonic computer program in collaboration with the Japan School of Music Therapy and Azabu Veterinary University and “sounds like what you might hear at a spa, but with almost a purring sound over the top” says marketing manager Justin Phillips.
“We often have six or seven cats in here at a time, and if one of them starts making noise the others soon join in which can add even more stress. The aim is to reduce vocal stress behaviours like barking and whining and to have more restful behaviour.
“At the moment, the only evidence we have from our practice is anecdotal, but it seems to be having the right effect.”
Tess, a six-year-old Golden Retriever, seems to agree – she hasn’t had her appointment yet, but she doesn’t look like she’s worrying about it much. She’s very calm, neither concerned about nor especially interested in the new people that have come to see her.
And Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Finbar, also six, is able to sleep in peace while he recovers from his dental operation – no barking, no whimpering, just blissful, uninterrupted, healing sleep.
But, as anyone who has had the radio on around Christmas time will know, hearing the same songs over and over again can be extremely annoying. “We put the CD player on shuffle and keep changing the CD,” explains Justin, “otherwise it can become an irritant.”
The original practice in the now eleven-strong chain, Guiseley White Cross Vets makes do with a CD player each in the separate dog and cat wards. But newer buildings can expect to have speakers built into the walls, turning each ward into a real chill-out room.
So perhaps it’s not barking mad, after all.