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Dog Ears: How a Dog’s Hearing Works

Dog Ears, Ear Drops, Ear Mites

Dogs can hear sounds from much farther away and at higher frequencies than humans. If you are a dog owner you’ve probably noticed this before a thunderstorm when your dog starts to whimper and get scared but you don’t hear anything.

When a dog hears something interesting it can rotate its ears around from front to back and vice versa to better orient the sound. When a dog’s ears are straight up and down similar to a German shepherd’s, the large flaps of the ear help to gather sound better much like a human who cups his or her ear. You can try this yourself when you place your hand behind your ear lobe and curve your ear forward. Not only does the earlobe pick up more sound but your hand increases the surface area for sound to be collected.

A dog’s ear canal is much larger compared to a human’s to give the sound a better chance of being differentiated from other sounds the dog may not need to hear as readily. Tiny hairs inside the dog’s ears also help to interpret sound and enhance the quality of what is being heard. Dogs use hearing to pinpoint the exact location of objects as their hunting instinct as carnivores is needed to hear things that may not be readily seen.

Since a dog relies heavily on his or her ears, maintenance of your dog’s ears is very important. If you have a hairy dog make sure you trim back hair that may cover the ears or get long enough to go into the ears. Only hair that actually grows on the inside of the ears should be there.

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Check for blemishes, whelps, and boils in and around the ears and take care of them properly so they don’t become infected. Cleam blemishes with a cloth and alcohol, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide along the outer flap of the ear. Do not stick objects down into your dog’s ears. Ear mites are a common problem for dogs and your veterinarian can recommend some ear drops to give your dog to get rid of the mites.

Dogs can go deaf over time as they get older just like humans. You may notice this as they become less responsive to sounds they use to hear all the time such as a bell or something being dropped on the floor or their favorite squeak toy. Deafness is normal in dogs at an older age but if you have concerns about your dog’s well being due to deafness check with your vet as well.