Hearing aids for dogs? It’s not unheard of

Are there hearing aids for dogs? How can you even tell if your dog is deaf? What, exactly, is animal audiology? And why does the U.S. military care so much about animal hearing research?

If these questions have crossed your mind or are of interest to you, then you won't want to miss this month's Starkey Sound Bites podcast with Dr. Peter ‘Skip’ Scheifele, executive director of FETCHLAB, the University of Cincinnati’s internationally renowned animal hearing and bioacoustics laboratory.

Dr. Scheifele and Sound Bites host, Dave Fabry, answer these questions and more in a fascinating conversation that digs into the why, what and how of animal audiology.


In an excerpt from the podcast below, Dr. Scheifele tells the story about the first time he put hearing aids on a dog.  

Peter ‘Skip’ Scheifele, Ph.D., LCDR USN — “When I started doing testing here and started FETCHLAB, it turns out that I owned a dog with my wife, and this dog was doing a lot of television work. So he was on Animal Planet and things like that. But as the dog got into his 12th or 13th year, he was losing his hearing. We noticed, and he was very confounded by off-camera verbal cues and things like that.

So this was the first dog that I got with my colleague here and we said, why don't we try to put a hearing aid on this dog?

And so we did. We got some behind-the-ear hearing aids, and we fashioned out a special cape for this dog to wear where the hearing aids were on the cape, Velcroed on, and the tubes went in. And because this dog was highly trained, it was easy for my wife — who was the trainer and behaviorist — to work with him to accept the hearing aid.

Now, when I talk to people about hearing aids — and I get people every month who are asking me, ‘could you put hearing aids on my dogs?’ — can we do it? Yes, we can. The problem is…one is, is that if you're going to put a hearing aid on your dog, it requires a commitment to training that dog, because the dog does not want to have something in his ear.

So it takes commitment to train. And even if you train the dog to accept it, there is no guarantee that the dog will ever acknowledge the fact that that hearing aid is doing anything different for him than any other time in his life, other than having something in his ear.”


To listen to the entire podcast (and past and future ones) subscribe to Starkey Sound Bites wherever you get your podcasts.


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By Starkey Hearing