The average human can hear between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, but did you know that cats hear 55 Hz to 79 kHz? Or that dogs have a range of 67 Hz to 44 kHz? These numbers are impressive and mean that animals may hear better than us, but unfortunately; they too can suffer from hearing loss. So, are there hearing aids for dogs? Find out in this blog.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Since your dog can’t say “What?” when they cannot hear you, there are other ways to tell if your dog has hearing loss. They will not respond to squeaky toys, clapping, yelling, doorbells, or other common sounds. They may be difficult to wake up and may be startled since they did not hear you approach. They also may bark more because they cannot hear themselves.
Hearing Loss Causes
Similarly to human, animals lose their hearing if their ear is damaged – particularly the tiny hair follicles and nerve endings within the ears. Nerves will degenerate in older animals, and some may be born with poor development of their nerves. Tumors or ruptured eardrums can also cause the damage, as well as inflammatory disease or trauma. Canine distemper virus affects dogs’ hearing in particular, though this can be prevented with vaccine.
Hearing Loss Treatment
About 80 percent of hearing loss cannot be reversed, but scientists are working hard on regenerating hair follicles to improve that number. Gerbils hear in a way similar to that of humans, so they are the main test subjects. Any breakthroughs with this group could be a breakthrough for humans with hearing loss. Researchers in the U.K. were able to inject stem cells from the animals into immature nerve cells and restore hearing by up to 46 percent over the course of 10 weeks. This type of follicle replacement helps with auditory neuropathy, which accounts for 15 percent of hearing loss. For most other types of hearing loss, there is not yet a treatment. Animals have to adapt to their environment with worse hearing. Loss of hearing does not affect them as strongly as it does human, and their other senses will overcompensate to make life easier.
Hearing Aids for Dogs
Like with humans whose poor hearing cannot be cured, hearing aids can be an option for dogs. A doctor at Auburn University in Alabama took a basic human hearing aid and mounted it on a dog collar. He then took a plastic tube to connect the aid to a foam plug within the dog’s ear canal. Clearly, not all dogs would be tolerant of this, though smaller dogs had more patience with the foreign object in their ear. Because of the risk of rejection, hearing aids for dogs are not all that common and are fairly expensive. Doctors are working on cochlear prostheses or implants for dogs, however, they too are extremely expensive and there is still risk that it will not be effective. Deaf dogs do not understand they are deaf and may still respond to sign languages, so the step of hearing aids for dogs may be extreme and ill advised. Watch out for your pet and provide them the love and attention they deserve!