Hearing Aids For Dogs?

When humans get older, many lose some of the ability to hear.  The same is true for some dogs as they age.  With the excellent veterinarians and the modern techniques available today, dogs are living longer than ever before.  Many dogs live well into their teens.

People expect to be able to hear what is going on around them.  It is hard to be alerted to danger if you cannot hear.  Dogs have the same needs, but we expect them to adapt to a life without their hearing.  Some dogs are able to function without their hearing and will not need the assistance of a hearing aid.  Other dogs may not be able to adapt to not hearing.

It should not be hard to determine if your dog has a hearing problem.  Perhaps you call him repeatedly and he does not respond.  Perhaps he does respond if he is looking at you when you call.  He may even look in the wrong direction to try and find you when you call him.  If the dog is sleeping, perhaps it is necessary to touch him in order to wake him up.  Just like a child with a hearing problem, a dog with a hearing problem might be fussing with his ears or shaking his head around.  A dog hearing aid may help with these problems.  If you suspect your dog is having a hearing problem consult with your veterinarian.

Hearing aids for dogs are not widely used, however.    Hearing aids for dogs are quite expensive costing several thousand dollars.  Some owners feel it is worth the expense of a hearing aid for their dog if it makes the pet’s life better.

A hearing aid will not restore your dog’s hearing to the original level or quality.  There will be a limit to the sound and it may be distorted.  Some dogs will adjust to this and some will not.  It will take time, work and patience to train a dog to get used to a hearing aid.  During this period the volume on the hearing aid is slowly raised as the dog gets used to it.

There are two types of hearing aids for dogs.  One type device to aid with hearing is mounted on a dog collar.  The hearing aid is in a container which is placed on the collar with tubes going from it to a foam plug situated in the dog’s ear.  It is similar to a human’s  behind the ear, BTE, hearing aid in structure.  These devices seem to work well with smaller dogs, but larger breeds don’t like them.

There are also the in the ear, ITE, type hearing aid.  The doctor will take a mold of the dog’s ear canal, send this to a lab and a human ITE is built into the mold.  It is questionable whether or not a dog will put up with the testing and fitting and having the hearing aid placed in his ear.  Some dogs will and some dogs won’t.  Teaching the dog to interpret the sounds from the hearing aid will require a long training process.

Many dogs enjoy a happy life even with a diminished ability to hear.  They still have their sense of smell and rely heavily on this. Some hearing-impaired dogs can be trained to respond to hand signals.