Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), sometimes referred to as brain tingling, describes a calming, tingling feeling you experience upon stimulation of each of your five senses. ASMR is activated during or after close personal encounters, hearing stimulating sounds, smelling delightful scents, or observing emotive sights.
Those who have had ASMR encounters relate to getting the chills or feeling a tingling sensation starting at the top of their head and traveling down the spine and limbs. This experience leads to feelings of blissfulness, euphoria, relaxation, and drowsiness.
Since ASMR puts people in a relaxed state and facilitates endorphin release, experiencing it helps people cope with stress and anxiety.
Pets certainly experience stress and anxiety just like humans do. Many pet parents know how to identify anxiety in their pets. Your cat may show anxiousness by tail tucking or swishing the tail tip quickly, crouching, hiding, having dilated pupils, or urinating outside their litter box. Your dog may chew items around the house or even parts of the house, self-harm through excessive grooming, or show signs of aggression.
Let‘s look at anxiety causes in cats and dogs and how ASMR can help them cope. Below are some factors that make cats and dogs anxious.
- Loud noises. Thunder, fireworks, and loud music make your pet anxious.
- Other members of their species. Other cats or dogs that enter your pet‘s space or territory will make it uncomfortable, including a new family member or neighboring pets.
- Predators. Dogs, bears, mountain lions, or rattlesnakes trigger your pet‘s anxiety.
- Strange People. Your pet may struggle to adjust to guests or unfamiliar people in their surroundings.
- Travel. If the pet does not travel often, the motion of the kennel or the mode of transportation tends to cause stress.
- Separation from Owner. If you leave the pet alone, it may become stressed, especially if it is for several days or longer during vacation.
- New surroundings. Cats and dogs are territorial; they place their scent marks over the existing territory that they protect. When forced to leave their space, it is stressful to adjust to a new one.
Massages trigger ASMR in many humans; however, some individuals severely dislike being touched. The same concept applies to pets; they react differently to different stimuli, so you should carefully note your pet‘s reaction when attempting to trigger ASMR. According to American Kennel Club, “Massage may reduce stress and anxiety, increase circulation” in pets (Fitzgerald, 2018). They recommend stroking your pet during a thunderstorm, for example, to relieve their anxiety.
Noted psychoacoustics researcher Joshua Leeds does clinical studies in music therapy for dogs and cats and bioacoustics or the study of sound in non-human animals. He collaborated with pianist Lisa Spector to produce the therapeutic work “Through A Dog’s Ear”. There are several other musical works optimized to trigger ASMR in pets and reduce their anxiety.
Aromatherapy has proven effective in soothing dog‘s and cat‘s anxiety. You can purchase plugin devices that diffuse pheromones into your pet‘s space to enable anxiety-reducing ASMR.
More research into ASMR effects on cats and dogs will provide more options and treatments; however, it is clear that the options currently available to pet parents are positively impactful in helping to improve their pet‘s quality of life.
Fitzgerald, K. (2018, October 12). How Massage Can Help Your Dog. American Kennel Club; American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/massage-can-help-your-dog/
How the iCalmPet Music is Arranged | Bioacoustics Meets Psychoacoustics | iCalmPet. (2018, April 25). ICalmPet. https://icalmpet.com/about/music/psychoacoustics/
How to Use Music to Calm Your Anxious Dog. (2019, June 20). Preventivevet.com. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-use-music-to-calm-anxious-dogs#:~:text=Turning%20on%20some%20music%20or,of%20the%20stress%20hormone%20cortisol.
Using ASMR Can Reduce Your Dog’s Anxiety. (2016, February). PetCareRx. https://www.petcarerx.com/article/using-asmr-can-reduce-your-dogs-anxiety/4022
Verywell. (2021). What Is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (AMSR)? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-asmr-4582673