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Can Dogs Hear Ultrasonic Cleaners?
From jewelry to surgical instruments, ultrasonic cleaners are highly effective tools for cleaning a wide range of delicate objects. These clever devices use ultrasonic sound waves — waves which are outside the range of human hearing — to remove dirt, dust and other particles that cling to small items.
However, while you can't hear the sound these cleaners produce, there's a good chance your dog will be able to. Our furry friends are capable of detecting sounds at much higher frequencies than human ears, so a pooch with average hearing will be able to hear an ultrasonic cleaner at work.
With this in mind, it's essential to keep a close eye on your pooch to make sure the sound doesn't cause them any discomfort.
Signs Your Dog Can Hear an Ultrasonic Cleaner
Ultrasonic cleaners come in smaller home models and large, industrial-grade devices. They have a wide range of uses, so your dog could potentially encounter an ultrasonic cleaner around the home or while out and about.
However, if you can't hear the sound they produce, you may not be aware that they're putting out a noise that's well within your dog's range of hearing. That's why you'll need to watch your dog's body language and behavior closely to pick up anything out of the ordinary.
The first sign you may notice is your dog's ears perking up, and then rotating and tilting in an appropriate direction to capture the sound. They may move their head or even their entire body to investigate where the sound is coming from, and you'll typically notice that their body language shifts from relaxed to alert and inquisitive.
However, the exact reaction to the sound of an ultrasonic cleaner could vary from one dog to the next. Many dogs will barely bat an eyelid and quickly dismiss the sound after a quick investigation.
But if your pet finds the noise distressing, they may bark, growl or whine, raise their hackles, carry their tail low, and display a number of other signs of fear or anxiety. If this is the case for your dog, it could be time to stop using an ultrasonic cleaner in your dog's presence.
The Science of Dogs Hearing Ultrasonic Sounds
The average human ear can detect sounds in the frequency range from 20 to 20,000 Hertz (Hz). Sounds that sit above this upper-frequency limit are classified as being ultrasonic.
However, dogs can hear a much wider frequency range than us. While their ears aren't quite as capable as ours at the lower end of the spectrum, it's thought that our canine friends can hear sounds of 50,000 Hz and higher, probably up to a maximum of 65,000 Hz. As most ultrasonic cleaners involve frequencies of between 20,000 and 40,000 Hz, they fall well into the hearing range of your pooch.
But why can dogs hear high frequencies so much better than us? It's thought that the wolves, from which modern dogs descended, needed this skill to be able to become effective hunters. The ability to hear high frequencies allows wolves to determine where a sound is coming from. Coupled with their amazing sense of smell, this skill makes them very capable hunters.
It's all down to a process known as 'binaural spectral-difference cueing', which dogs use to analyze and compare the frequency of a sound as it arrives in each ear. If a sound comes from somewhere off to a dog's right, their left ear is effectively in the 'shadow' thrown by their head. This means that some of the sound waves are absorbed before reaching the second ear, so the ability to detect a higher upper frequency limit is needed to help dogs work out where a sound is coming from.
Your Dog and Ultrasonic Cleaners
Is it safe to use an ultrasonic cleaner around your dog? Will ultrasonic cleaners cause pain or discomfort for your furry friend? It all depends on your dog.
Many dogs will not be perturbed by the sound of an ultrasonic cleaner — just because they can hear something doesn't mean it's painful. If your pooch has ever taken a trip to the doggy dentist, there's a good chance they've had their teeth cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner. There are also plenty of ultrasonic training collars and whistles on the market, although the jury is still out on exactly how effective and humane those actually are.
However, some dogs will show signs of distress and discomfort if they're close to an ultrasonic cleaner while it's in operation. They may whine or bark, try to escape the sound, or generally show other signs of agitation. If your dog reacts whenever you crank up the vacuum cleaner, you may notice a similar reaction in the presence of an ultrasonic cleaner.
The key thing for you to do is to monitor your pet. If you're using an ultrasonic cleaner, or any other device that operates in the ultrasonic frequency for that matter, keep a close eye on your pooch's behavior and body language for signs of discomfort. By knowing what is and isn't normal for your furry friend, you'll be able to recognize when the sound is causing them stress.
Of course, if your dog is troubled by an ultrasonic cleaner, the solution is simple: don't use it in your pet's presence. Separate your dog from the cleaner by using it in a room they can't enter or even get within 20 feet of. This should give you the space you need to get your delicate items looking spick and span while keeping your dog happy at the same time.
By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk
Published: 06/11/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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