What are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are a medical device used in dogs to amplify the sound coming into the ear canal. The goal of treatment is to restore hearing in dogs that have gone deaf. Hearing aids are very rarely used in dogs as a treatment option. There are no commercially available hearing aids for dogs; however, there is a technique used to adapt human hearing aids for use in dogs that involves mounting human hearing aids to the dog’s collar and using ear pieces connected to the hearing aids with tubing to go into the dog’s ear. This technique was developed by a veterinarian at Auburn for use by other veterinarians.

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Hearing Aids Procedure in Dogs

Your vet will confirm your dog’s deafness through physical exam and response to auditory stimuli. Your vet will then adapt human hearing aids of choice to adapt for use in dogs. No anesthesia should be necessary for the auditory testing or hearing aid fitting. 

Efficacy of Hearing Aids in Dogs

In dogs that have some residual ear function, hearing aids are effective as long as the dog will tolerate ear pieces in their ear. In general, smaller breed dogs tend to tolerate the ear pieces associated with hearing aids better than large breed dogs. In dogs with no residual hearing function such, as cases of complete hearing loss with age, congenital hearing loss, or ototoxicity, hearing aids are not effective. 

Hearing Aids Recovery in Dogs

Though no recovery is required after fitting a dog with hearing aids, a period of adapting to the device should be expected.

Cost of Hearing Aids in Dogs

Hearing aids in dogs could cost $150 to $700, depending on the style and brand of human hearing aids used and associated auditory testing.  

Dog Hearing Aids Considerations

It is important to consider that most dogs do not tolerate hearing aids very well and it is not currently recommended as a standard of treatment for hearing loss by most veterinarians. Dogs can adapt quite well to unilateral hearing loss and gradual hearing loss. It is important for owners to keep a closer eye on these dogs as their hearing impairments may impede their ability to hear threats such as cars. 

Hearing Aids Prevention in Dogs

Unfortunately, congenital and age related causes of hearing loss cannot be prevented. However, there are ways that families of hearing impaired dogs can adapt, such as teaching your dog hand signals to recognize instead of vocal commands. Hearing loss that is acquired is more rare but can be attributed to certain toxins, loud noises or chronic inner ear infections. These can be avoided by ensuring that your dog does not have access to any toxic materials (not just ototoxic ones), ensuring that dogs that are around loud noises (such as hunting dogs) are provided with ear protection, and that any ear infections are well managed and a source identified.