King, T., Flint, H. E., Hunt, A. B. G. et al. 2022. Effect of music on stress parameters in dogs during a mock veterinary visit. Animals 12(2), 187.
Veterinary visits can be stressful for dogs, but how their wellbeing changes during a visit is not well understood. Music therapy has been successfully used in clinical practice to alleviate stress and anxiety in people. The present study aimed to understand how canine stress changes during a veterinary visit, establish the effect of music, and highlight measures which may be of practical use. In a randomized crossover design, dogs were exposed to no music and a bespoke piece of classical music at a tempo designed to match their resting heart rate during a mock veterinary visit. Dogs were scored as more “afraid” during the physical examination compared to when they were in the hospital kennel (p < 0.001). Salivary cortisol, IgA, and infrared temperature all increased significantly (p < 0.05) from baseline to post-kennel and post-examination, with no effect of music treatment. Core body temperature (p = 0.010) and the odds of ‘relaxed’ lips (p = 0.020) were lower when dogs were exposed to music compared to control visits. Overall, dogs experienced changes in physiology and behavior, indicative of increased stress, over the course of the visit. Additional research is required to further understand the effect that bespoke music may have in alleviating canine stress during veterinary visits.