The Potential Beneficial Effect of Classical Music on Heart Rate Variability in Dogs Used in Veterinary Training

Scientific Journal Articles

Heart rate variability (HRV), the variability between subsequent heart beats, is a measure of autonomic tone, influenced by psychophysiological factors, neurohormonal mechanisms and cardiac disease. Auditory stimulation, specifically classical music, has been documented to benefit well-being in a number of animal species. The aim of this study was to determine whether exposure to classical music improved HRV in dogs used in training during veterinary education for practical laboratories teaching canine clinical examination skills. Sixteen dogs, institutional kenneled dogs and student-owned dogs, were recruited in a cross-over study with a seven-day washout period. Dogs were fitted with a Polar® wearlink strap and HRV data were collected using a Polar® RS800CX human heart rate monitor attached to the dog’s collar during the procedure. There were significant differences (P value < 0.05) in HRV indices between dogs exposed to as compared with those not exposed to classical music, specifically the mean RR interval decreased by 6% from 588 to 551 (P value = 0.0072). The standard deviation of RR interval (STDRR) was significantly more variable, 89 versus 109, in the dogs exposed to music (P value = 0.01) and the RR triangulation index (RRTI) increased from 13 to 16 (P value = 0.008). One limitation of this study included small sample size. Different genres and type of music and their effect on HRV of dogs and other animals in veterinary training (and other) settings need to be explored in the future.

Koster, L.S.; Sithole, F.; Gilbert, G.E.; Artemiou, E. The potential beneficial effect of classical music on heart rate variability in dogs used in veterinary training. J. Vet. Behav. 2019, 30, 103–109.


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Topic(s): Environment, Environmental Management and Monitoring, Noise Levels, Research and Teaching