How Do Hearing Aids For Dogs Work?

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Deafness in dogs can manifest itself differently, and dogs can experience partial or complete deafness. At first, you may think your my pup is a master at the selective hearing game, but eventually, you realize the new member of the family is totally deaf.

So what do you do then? One option to consider is a hearing aid.

Hearing aids for dogs work similarly to that for humans. They can be inserted into the ear canal or as a cochlear implant to increase sound frequency. Not all dogs will accept the insertion of a foreign object into the ear and may need to be trained to accept the implant.

Understanding deafness in dogs is important to find a new way to communicate with your companion. Knowing how to test for deafness and what to do if you suspect he is deaf is important for the well-being of your friend and your family.

Here we look deeper into issue of deafness in dogs – and what you can do to help your best friend to live his best life.

How Do Hearing Aids For Dogs Work?

How do hearing aids for dogs work?

Deafness in dogs has the same outcome as deafness in people. There is no cure for deafness, but there are some hearing aids that can assist your dog with increasing its hearing ability, as the purpose of the hearing aid is to amplify the sound your dog hears.

Many different aspects and reasons can cause canine hearing loss, ranging from temporary deafness due to the buildup of wax deposits narrowing the ear canal or dirt in the ear and exposure to loud sounds. Permanent deafness can be caused by untreated ear infections, injuries, drug toxicity, tumors, degeneration of the nerves, congenital defects, and old age.

Dogs that gradually lose their hearing will experience different phases of hearing difficulty and may not be as obvious to the owner in the beginning stages. 

Your dog may suffer from bilateral deafness (deafness in both ears) or unilateral deafness (deaf in one ear and one functional ear)

How To Get Hearing Aids For Dogs?

Taking your dog to the vet should be your next step. Your vet will rule out any possibilities of temporary deafness due to blockages in the ear canal or a buildup of wax and dirt.

Your vet will thoroughly check your dog’s ears for any infections or inflammation that could cause deafness.

In bilateral deafness, you may notice that your dog shows less responsiveness to your voice and commands. Dogs that are bilaterally deaf tend to sleep more, have more difficulty being woken up, and become more withdrawn in older dogs. 

Another sign your dog may be deaf is a change in how he barks. If he can’t hear himself, then he will think you can’t hear him.

In unilateral deafness, your dog may try to determine where the noise is coming from as its impairment confuses its sensory hearing ability.

Other signs your dog may be becoming deaf are;

  • change in obedience or attentiveness to surrounding sounds
  • unresponsive to loud noises
  • no longer comes running when you call his name
  • doesn’t respond to hearing treat packets or his food bowl
  • tends to sleep more
  • becomes less active
  • starts shaking or tilting his head
  • excessive barking

Once your vet has confirmed the diagnosis, the next step is determining the degree of hearing loss and the remaining hearing abilities.

Most veterinarian specialists can perform the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test. This test was originally tested on infants for hearing loss but is now a reliable way to evaluate hearing in dogs.

This test will test the dog’s hearing range at normal human frequencies by testing for responses to a series of clicking noises and the brain’s activity that it evokes. A dog will require a fair amount of residual hearing to be considered a candidate for an amplification hearing aid.

If your dog is a candidate for hearing aids, it doesn’t stop there. You, as the owner, need to be committed and dedicated to the ongoing training your dog will need to become accustomed to the new hearing aids and understand what he is hearing.

If both you and your dog are approved, then silicon impressions of your dog’s ears are made and sent to the lab for construction, and your dog will be fitted with a collar and his aids.

What Are The Challenges Of Hearing Aids For Dogs?

Unfortunately, dogs are not as tolerant as humans regarding foreign objects in their ears – the same applies to around their eyes! People will know the reason and understand why they have an object in the ear, whereas dogs will not and try to remove the hearing aid.

Researchers and veterinarians are also working on cochlear implants for dogs that will eliminate the desire of the dog wanting to remove the plug from his ear, but this option is still a very costly alternative, and there are no guarantees that it will work perfectly.

Hearing aids are not a miracle cure to healing your dog’s deafness and will not restore your companion’s hearing to its original level of quality. There is a limit to the amount of sound that will be delivered into the ear.

You need time and patience to train your dog to accept the foreign object. The hearing aid will help your companion by transmitting and amplifying sounds into the auditory canal. This aid increases the sound frequency that helps your dog hear noises it would otherwise not have noticed.

Are Dog Hearing Aids Worth It?         

Humans can be aware of unnecessary amplified sounds and identify and adapt to this problem. Dogs, unfortunately, cannot. Hearing aids for dogs have been seen as more of a comfort for the owner than the dog. Dogs are resilient and can rely on other senses than their hearing to live a fulfilled life.

Dogs born with congenital deafness don’t know what it’s like to hear; they will develop and rely on their other senses. As owners of deaf pups, it is our job to learn sign language that both dog and owner can understand to communicate effectively.

For older dogs that have suddenly or gradually lost their hearing, it may be worth having implants to regain some form of hearing, but it all depends on your training commitments that you will give your dog to accept the hearing aids.

There is no real guarantee that the hearing aid will work as you expect it to. Some research has shown that dogs don’t truly understand what they hear at first. It could take months of training with owner and dog before there might be any real signs of effectiveness.

So with the high cost of hearing aids and no real guarantee, you may have to weigh up your options on treating this particular disability.

Deaf dog

What Do Dog Hearing Aids Cost?

Although we all want what is best for our dog, we need to consider the costs of these prostheses. Hearing aids are never a cheap option, and there is no guarantee that they will work. 

Some pet insurance does cover the cost of hearing aids if your dog is already insured.

Otherwise, you may be coughing out anything from $3000 to $5000 for hearing aids to be made to the dog’s specification. Not to mention the extra costs of training with an animal behaviorist to help you and your dog understand the training.

The Pros And Cons Of Dog Hearing Aids

Many people who have dogs with hearing loss find that a simple solution is to buy a hearing aid for dogs. Others question whether or not they should get their dog a hearing aid. 

Pros Of Dog Hearing Aids

  • Due to restored hearing, your dog will not scare as easily when approached from behind.
  • It can be an ideal bonding experience for owner and dog to do training together.
  • Once your dog understands the noises it receives, it can help your dog with his frustration of not understanding you.

Cons Of Dog Hearing Aids

  • The negative side of hearing aids in dogs is that they amplify background sounds, and distortion of the amplified sound can also occur. This can confuse the dog as it tries to understand what the aid is transmitting.
  • Your dog may not tolerate the foreign object in its ear and permanently try to rid himself of the object.
  • The aid is not guaranteed that it will work as desired.
  • Costly

Tips For Getting Your Dog A Hearing Aid

Dog at vet hearing test appointment

If you want to get your dog a hearing aid, make sure to consider the following factors: 

  • The type of hearing loss your dog has 
  • The level of amplification needed for your dog 
  • Which type of hearing aid technology would work best for your dog
  • Will, your dog, accept the implant 

Another option is to get a pet-friendly vibrating collar and teach your dog to respond to you or look at you when the collar vibrates.

We all want to be able to offer our pets the best care we can give them. However, hearing aids can be more frustrating for both owner and dog as your companion tries to rid himself of the foreign object in his ears.

Final Thoughts on Dog Hearing Aids

Dogs can lose their hearing for several reasons, and it can be devastating to the owner to see how your dog’s personality and daily routine change due to deafness.

Hearing aids have become an option for dogs, but they come with pros and cons. Post-training and care are vitally important, and the owner needs to be committed to training his dog for the hearing aids to have maximum effect. 

The only thing that is important through this process is that you support and show love and patience to your dog through this period as he becomes accustomed to the change.

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