We all know that dogs have excellent hearing. Still, there's not enough conversation about how that great hearing can become a point of agitation and possible damage to a dog's ears and hearing abilities. Are you worried that loud music will hurt your dog? You are likely correct.
Loud noises can lead to hearing loss in dogs and humans.
The main concern can be divided into three different factors: loudness of sound, the closeness of sound, and how long one is exposed to that sound. Dogs are great for hearing noises from far away, but what if loud noises are very close to them?
According to Dr. Kari Foss' recent quote in Science Daily, "Noise-induced hearing loss results from damage to the hair cells in the cochlea that vibrate in response to sound waves. However, extreme noise may also damage the eardrum, and the small bones within the inner ear called the ossicles."
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Just like humans can get hearing damage from loud noise and music, dogs can get it as well. And to add to it, they can't tell you that they're uncomfortable as easily as a person would be able to. This fact alone should let you know that we need to be more sensitive to dogs' hearing!
It's important to pay attention to your dog's actions when you are concerned that noise levels are too loud for them. Signs of damage or agitation can include them not responding at all, barking, wailing, or running away.
Note that dogs can bark or wail as a sign of being entertained or happy as well, so it can be tricky to decipher if their reaction is pleasant or a response to irritation. Some dogs really enjoy music at levels that aren't too loud, so it's important to know your dog and its mannerisms.
Sound is commonly measured by decibel, also known as dB. If you want to make sure you aren't doing any damage to your dog, try to keep your dB levels under a certain amount. This will help your dog's health and your own health in the long run.
A whispered tone is around 30 dB, and an average spoken voice level is about 60 dB. On the higher end, a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. A dog's bark is said to be too loud for dogs and humans at around 100dB+.
With headphones or loudspeakers, we often go too far with our music levels and hit over 100dB. Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may cause damage to you or your dog's hearing.
Noises over 120 dB can do damage immediately. Download a mobile decibel-reading app, like Sound Level Meter or Decibel Meter, to measure decibels.
The generally established audio frequency range for sounds is 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz for humans.
Higher ranges are often referred to as treble or the "highs", while the middle range is called the "mids", and the lower frequencies are called the "lows" or the bass.
Dogs can hear a much broader range than we can, especially on the higher end. They've been known to hear frequencies as high as 45,000Hz. In terms of risk, that means that loud trebly sounds are more likely to hurt your dog's ears.
If you're going to play loud music, go with louder bass instead of loud trebly noises that can include hi-hats, high vocals, claps, whistles, chimes, and similar sounds on the higher end of the audio frequency range.
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You can find a simple and effective solution for your dog's health in products like the Happy Hoodie or dog-ear muffs that can help lessen the sound that gets through to your dog's ear canal.
Products like these are hard to come by, but they are often affordable and more effective than simply not covering your dog's ears at all. I suggest trying to make your own ear protection if you're feeling creative since there aren't enough products out there to protect our precious pets!
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