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5 Ways to Protect Your Dog's Hearing

Dog with Headphones
Hearing Helpers

Promote your dog's hearing by having his ears checked during regular visits to your family veterinarian to:

  • Identify any current concerns
  • Monitor hearing loss or improvement
  • Recommend measures to improve hearing or delay loss of hearing
  • Show you how to communicate with a hearing impaired dog

Tips to protect your dog against potential hearing loss:

  • Avoid sudden loud noises
  • Avoid sharp or high pitched noises
  • Provide nutritious meals and snacks for optimum health
  • Provide a safe, quiet environment during holiday or family festivities
  • Prevent exposure to loud, repetitive noises

The acuity of your family dog's hearing far surpasses that of humans.  Hearing is a critical sense to dogs, and when diminished, will increase dependency on the sense of smell.  When a dog hears something, he can hear it without moving his head.  Many muscles surrounding the ears help dogs get premium sound reception.

Unlike humans, dogs are able to change the position of their outer ear so they can focus on a specific sound.  When a dog lifts his ears or turns them, the outer ear allows him to magnify incoming sounds.  Dogs with very long ears usually don't hear as well as dogs with smaller ears, floppy ears or triangle shaped ears.

"Contrary to popular belief, dogs cannot hear noises from miles away. Dogs and people hear noises coming from the same distance away," advises Rena Sherwood in How Does A Dog's Hearing Differ From A Human's.  People hear about 20,000 vibrations of sound per second.  Dogs can hear two to five times the number of vibrations!

Animals needed this extensive hearing capability when they lived in the wild.  Those living in the wild maintain the acuity just as those living in our homes.

Domestication of dogs as household pets hasn't changed their excellent hearing abilities.  Because our dogs seem to hear sounds before we do, they often seem to warn us of impending danger.  Heroic stories are often shared about pets saving their owners or family members from fire, earthquake, predators and intruders.

Hearing loss in dogs is caused by many of the same things that cause hearing loss in humans.  Hearing loss may be the result of a variety of causes including infection, trauma, noise, aging, drug toxicity and inherited genetic defects.

According to the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund, "Hearing loss affecting both ears is called bilateral deafness. A bilaterally deaf dog is completely (or mostly) deaf in both ears. Hearing loss occurring in, or affecting only one ear, is called unilateral deafness. A unilaterally deaf dog has hearing loss in only one ear and has full hearing in the other ear."

Laura Derrington advises in The Structure of Dog Ears, "Excessive ear wax can cause temporary hearing loss, especially in breeds with narrow ear canals, such as poodles. If a dog has a lot of hair around its ear, the ear canal can get blocked. A foreign object such as a toy or stick that becomes lodged in a dog's ear also can reduce hearing."

How can we preserve this wondrous hearing capacity our furry family members have?  Five tips below will help you ensure your dog's clear, unimpeded hearing:

  1. Prevent your pet's exposure to sharp, unexpected noises.  This includes loud, repetitive noises that can cause trauma in dogs and humans.
  2. Shield or protect your pet's ears from contributors to noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) including:  party noise makers, fireworks, explosive devices, fire and police sirens, hammering, jackhammers, always-on loud music, construction site activities, race car engines, airplane engines, and gunfire.
  3. Have ears checked regularly and cleaned as necessary by your family veterinarian.
  4. Monitor children and toddlers in the dog's presence so that doggie ears (like a child's ears) are not used to stash crayons, marbles, coins or other foreign objects.
  5. Provide well balanced meals containing the nutritional components your vet specifically recommends for your dog's good health and well being.

Your dog will feel and perform his best when you work with your vet to do all possible to preserve his health, well being and excellent sense of hearing.

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