‘Hear’ your dog out on pet ear health

Understanding just how sensitive your dog’s ears are to loud noise

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Jan 21 · 3 min read
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Photo credit: Aditya Joshi/Unsplash

Dog owners breathe a sigh of relief when the fireworks stop on New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. But no matter how relieved they are, dogs are even more relieved — especially considering the uptick in random fireworks going off for absolutely no reason in 2020. Social isolation made people get more creative with how to spend their time, and some of those activities have become flat-out torturous for their pets. It doesn’t always seem to be with malice; some folks just don’t know how sensitive a dog’s ears are.

Jarring loud noises like these can make a dog run into hiding, especially the closer the loud noise gets to him or her. According to PetMeds, dogs can hear at a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 hertz (Hz). Human hearing range is approximately 20 and 20,000 Hz. (Cats are even more sensitive to sound, averaging 100,000 Hz, hence the reason they can usually hear a dog coming before the dog would hear them.)

Although dogs may have a harder time sneaking up behind cats, there is a reason they have that natural hunter ability and the silent treatment down pat. Unlike humans who can usually only filter one sound at a time, a dog can hear different sounds independently out of each ear. Two dog owners can talk in one ear and a third owner could own a bag of potato chips in another room, and the dog will be able to keep up with both activities. To no one’s surprise, those chips will probably be more interesting.

This is especially impressive considering dogs are born deaf until about two weeks of age, and then their hearing immediately amps up. Unfortunately white-haired dogs tend to be more likely to get ear infections and pass on deafness. These dogs include Jack Russell Terriers, Dalmatians, Bull Terriers and Australian Cattle Dogs, but it’s not impossible for other breeds to be hard of hearing, too. Dogs with a noticeable amount of hair growth in the ear canal area and floppy-eared dogs are also susceptible to ear infections.

This is one of many reasons that owners should pay special attention to any significant changes in hearing during the puppy stages and other time frames during a dog’s life span. That dog that may seem like he’s totally over what’s going on, uninterested in who rang the doorbell or lets strangers get oddly close to dog owners while taking a walk may be signs of hearing loss or an ear infection.

Common signs that an ear infection may be possible, according to Pet WebMD, include:

  • Bloody, brown or yellow discharge
  • Crusts or scabs in the pinna (ear flap), whether a prick ear (stands upright) or floppy
  • Hair loss near ears
  • Redness
  • Rubbing ear onto furniture and surrounding area
  • Scratching or rubbing ears
  • Swelling
  • Unusual eye movements

Dog owners who want to test out cleaning their dogs’ ears can follow instructions from the American Kennel Club. However, it is strongly recommended to observe a professional veterinarian do so first to find out the ins and outs of washing out and cleaning dogs’ ears, especially if this is a new routine as opposed to the pet being used to it in the puppy stages.

Parts of this post were originally written by Shamontiel and published on the Opie & Dixie blog.

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Shamontiel is a dog lover to her core: 480 completed walks with 80 dogs, eight dog-housesittings and six dog boardings at the time of this publication. Would you like to receive Shamontiel’s Weekly Newsletter via MailChimp? Sign up today!

Doggone World

For dog lovers, dog walkers and dog owners.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

Doggone World

Let’s discuss all bark-related, (mostly) feel-good content for dog lovers, dog walkers and dog owners.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

Doggone World

Let’s discuss all bark-related, (mostly) feel-good content for dog lovers, dog walkers and dog owners.

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