Gun dogs spend much of their time afield in the blast zone, whether it’s out front tracking upland game or hunkered down in a blind. Whatever the case, the firing of a shotgun can damage their hearing.
In recent years, military and police dogs that work around gunfire have been equipped with special hearing protectors, so why not strive to similarly protect our hunting dogs from hearing loss?
A trained hunting dog needs to hear voice commands in order to be an effective hunter. Being able to hear also helps it find game, while making for a happier, more comfortable dog overall.
Unfortunately, loud noises such as gunshots can damage the tiny hair cells in a dog’s inner ear, which convert sound waves into electrical signals the brain perceives as sound. Once damaged, those hairs no longer work, and hearing loss occurs. And once lost, hearing is gone forever. Extreme noise can also damage a dog’s eardrum.
Savvy hunters know how important it is to protect their own hearing in the field. Just a single shot can cause damage, so it’s essential to always wear hearing protection while shooting. Dogs are no different—hearing loss is inevitable due to unprotected exposure to muzzle blasts. Thankfully, there are several hearing-protection options for dogs now on the market.
Originally developed by Zeteo Tech for working military dogs, the form-fitting Rex Specs Ear Pro (pictured) promises to work equally well for gun dogs, for example. Other types of canine hearing protectors resemble human-style earmuffs, but with special straps designed for dogs. Another option is using foam plugs that fit inside the dog’s ear. Experiment with the choices to find the style that works best with your dog—and allows it to keep hunting safely for years to come.