Does Loud Music Hurt Dogs Ears?

Loud music has the potential to hurt a dog’s ears. Remember the last time loud music hurt your ears? Dogs are much more sensitive to sounds than humans, so loud music will affect your furry friend even more. Long-term exposure to loud music can cause permanent damage to your dog’s inner ear. 

Music has been a cornerstone of human culture for thousands of years. Musicians often get very loud when they play their instruments, such as drummers pounding away on their cymbals or electric guitarists playing a fast and furious solo!

With modern technology, such as high-volume speakers, we have more options than ever before to play music LOUD and hear every little detail. 

Jamming out to your favorite band is always a fun time, but is playing loud music bad for your dog? 

Before we can answer that question, we first need to understand how dogs process sound compared to humans. 

We have some fun scientific facts, so let’s get to it!

Let’s Cover The Basics of Hearing in Dogs

It will likely come as no surprise to you that dogs have much better hearing than humans. However, the difference in how much better their hearing is may surprise you. 

Knowing the basic facts is vital to understanding the effects loud music can have on your dog.

The Range of Sounds and Distance Dogs Are Able to Hear

According to psychologist and dog expert Stanley Coren, Ph.D., humans cannot hear sounds past roughly 20,000 hertz (the unit of measurement used to measure the frequency of sound waves). 

However, dogs, depending on the breed, can hear sounds ranging from 47,000 hertz up to 65,000!

So even on the low end of the spectrum, dogs are more than twice as sensitive as humans to sounds… and can sometimes be well over three times!

Dogs also have a much larger range of distance they can pick up sound waves from. On average, dogs can hear roughly four times further than humans. 

In fact, dogs can often detect earthquakes before they happen! This is why dogs will seemingly bark at nothing: they are hearing something that we cannot hear and are reacting to it.

So, what does this ultimately mean? In short: dogs can not only hear a significantly larger range of sounds than humans, but they can also detect sounds from greater distances. Since they are more sensitive to sounds than humans, loud music affects dogs more than humans.

The Anatomy of Dogs Ears and Why Music Hurts

Dog ears have some similarities to human ears, but many differences are worth knowing before blasting loud music.

Just like humans, dog ears have an outer, middle, and inner section. However, how they function for dogs differs from how they function for humans.

The dog’s outer ear has what’s called a pinna. This is the long cartilage you probably think of when you think of floppy-eared dogs! 

The pinna does more than just look cute, though. The major benefit of the pinna is that it acts as a sound funnel, helping dogs better take in sound waves.

The middle portion is similar to human ears, with both consisting of three tiny bones known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. All three bones work together with the eardrum to help produce sound.

The inner part is also like human ears, both of which have an organ called the cochlea. The cochlea contains hair cells (usually around 16,000) that are sensitive to sounds and move when vibrations are transmitted from the middle ear. The brain takes these vibrations from the hair cells and processes it, which leads to both humans and dogs being able to understand the sound.

One of the key takeaways from knowing all of this is that humans and dogs have a similar ear structure. 

Like humans, dogs are susceptible to hair cells dying. Prolonged exposure to loud music over time will cause the hair cells to die, leading to a reduced ability to hear. 

Hair cells can’t grow back… so once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

In addition to hair cells, loud music and other sounds can damage the auditory nerve, which is a part of the ear that connects to the brain to help determine what a sound is.

To recap: prolonged exposure to loud music can damage a dog’s hair cells and auditory nerve, both of which are important parts needed to hear sounds.

So Does Loud Music Hurt Dogs Ears?

Well…it depends. Volume, length of playtime, and the area you are in will all determine whether or not the music is causing damage to your dog’s ears. 

Let’s break these down in more detail. 

Volume

This one should be obvious. Playing music loud will be more damaging overall to a dog’s ears than softer, less intense music. 

Since dogs are more sensitive to sound than humans, loud music will be the key factor in determining whether or not the music will cause damage.

Length of Playtime

This is also a vital point. If you’re playing fairly loud music for a short period, you likely have nothing to worry about. 

However, if you were to listen to death metal at full volume for many hours a day, there’s going to be a significantly greater chance of hearing loss in the future.

Area

While not as critical to preventing hearing loss in dogs, the area you are in will affect how sound is produced. 

Depending on the conditions of the area, the sound will be amplified. Sound waves travel and bounce off objects like hard walls. This is called acoustics. 

If you’re listening to music in a small room with concrete walls, there’s less area for the sound to travel, and the walls will not absorb the sound as much as other materials would. This means the sound will be amplified more than in a larger area, like an outdoor theater.

How to Limit Noise to Protect Your Dogs Ears

Sometimes you really, really want to listen to loud music. That’s understandable. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help reduce the amount of sound this music produces. Let’s look at a few.

Wear Headphones

This is going to be the most effective method of reducing surrounding noise for your dog. Wearing headphones will drastically limit sound leakage, leading to significantly less exposure to the sound for your dog.

Limit Access to The Room

If you don’t have headphones, there are still ways to reduce the noise your dog is exposed to. Listening to music behind a door or in a basement (assuming your dog isn’t in the basement with you) is a solid choice. This will provide some distance between the music and your dog.

Acoustic Foam Panels

Acoustic foam panels are cheap and help absorb sound in a room. You can buy packs of these online and at certain brick-and-mortar stores. 

This method, especially when used with the previous method, can help reduce the surrounding noise.

What to Do If You Think Your Dog Is Experiencing Hearing Loss

No one wants their dog to experience hearing loss. However, the older dogs get, the more prone they are to losing their hearing. 

This goes beyond just loud music: things like physical damage to the ear or an infection can also affect their hearing.

What’s the best thing to do if you suspect your dog is experiencing hearing issues? 

Your first immediate action should be to speak to your vet. Your vet will determine precisely what’s going on. This could lead to a diagnosis that’s not as severe as you may have immediately thought. 

The cause could be an infection or a blockage of bacteria in their ear canal, both of which the vet can assist you in clearing up.

Use Common Sense When Listening to Music

Ultimately, your best bet is to use common sense. As long as you’re not blowing out your speakers playing loud music, you’ll likely be fine. 

If you’re playing loud music at a reasonable volume and are limiting the length of time you’re doing so, your dog has a much greater chance of not experiencing any long-term hearing loss.

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