Hearing is tested in adult dogs and puppies using specialized equipment capable of measuring electrical changes within the brainstem between subcutaneous electrodes placed overlying the dog’s skull. This neural potential recording coincident with sound stimuli presented at the dogs' ears is referred to as a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response or BAER. Brainstem auditory evoked responses are different for each patient. However, the presence of a waveform with multiple peaks corresponding to various hearing centers in the brainstem confirms the patient is capable of hearing the sound stimulus. BAER testing needles are reminiscent of acupuncture needles and are typically well tolerated by our puppy and adult patients alike. Veterinary Village doctors utilize the same precision equipment that human doctors use for testing your dog's hearing, a Cadwell Sierra Wave system. Each test may be conducted with or without sedation depending on patient needs and comfort.
Puppies may be tested for congenital deafness after 5 weeks of age minimum, and we recommend 6-8 weeks of age for accuracy. Congenital deafness is typically a degenerative disease and testing too soon can result in false-positive tests or the appearance of hearing when later a puppy may become deaf. Adult dogs may be tested any time hearing loss may be suspected. Images below show a unilateral deaf puppy with normal BAER on the right and deaf BAER on the left.
Space may be limited for larger groups of puppy testing with Dr. J. Curtis Zella; we recommend calling 4 weeks or more in advance to best suit your needs.
For more comprehensive scientific literature and information regarding pet deafness and testing, explore Dr. George M. Strain’s LSU website on Canine and Feline Deafness.