Ouch! That Noise Hurts My Ears!

Do you see your dog react to thunderstorms by being fearful, drooling excessively, shaking, or being restless? Me and many of his dog friends can become quite upset during intense thunderstorms like we have in North Carolina.


Did you know that the second strongest sense a dog has is the sense of hearing? Puppies are born deaf and begin to hear when they are a few weeks old. Dogs hear a much wider range of frequencies than people do. In other words, us dogs can hear sounds that are very low pitched and sounds that are very high pitched. We can also hear sounds that are much further away than people can. That's why dogs starts reacting long before you can hear the UPS truck, garbage truck, or siren coming onto your street. That it is not a false alarm!


This chart from Cochlea and S. Biatrix compares dogs’ hearing ability with other species.

A keen sense of hearing is very important for a dog’s survival and for our ability to perform specific skills. For instance, we use our hearing when herding sheep or other animals, flushing out game, or when protecting property. A dog has at least 18 muscles in each ear which allows them to lower, rotate, tilt, and raise our ears independently. This also allows us to localize the source of the sound. The exact number of muscles depends upon the breed of dog. Terriers who have upright ears would likely have more muscles and be able to use their ears differently than hounds who have floppy ears.


Since we dogs have such a keen sense of hearing it is important to protect us from excessive noise and shocking types of sounds. Loud music, fireworks, alarms, sirens, engine noise such as mowers, and gun fire are examples which can be terrifying to us dogs. Exposure to these sounds can even lead to hearing loss. As dogs age, we may lose our hearing just as humans do. Always take your dog to the veterinarian if you notice your dog scratching its’ ears, shaking its’ head, or if it does not seem to be hearing as it normally does. If your dog has “thunder phobia”, discuss this with your veterinarian so they can advise you and your family on the best plan to help your dog cope when those thunderstorms come your way.

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