Do Gunshots Hurt Dogs’ Ears?
For thousands of years, dogs have served as the ultimate hunting companion, helping us herd, spot, take down, and retrieve prey. However, unlike thousands of years ago when we hunted with arrows and spears, guns are now the preferred hunting tool.
Considering that canines have sharper ears than humans, do gunshots hurt dog ears? And if gunshots can hurt a dog’s ear, how bad is the damage, and what can you do to protect your hunting partner? Below are all the answers to your burning questions.
Can Gunshots Damage Your Dog’s Ears?
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that exposure to sounds over 140 decibels can cause long-term damage to human ears. If dogs have more sensitive ears than humans, it’s safe to assume sounds above 140 decibels can hurt a dog’s hearing. Some of the most popular hunting guns are louder than 150 decibels, which is higher than what ASHA considers safe.
Do Hunting Dogs Go Deaf?
Hunting dogs can go deaf due to age and illness. Exposing your hunting dog to sounds over 140 decibels, such as gunshots, can also cause deafness. Shooting around your dog is more likely to cause deafness if you fire while your dog is within a couple of feet of you.
However, most dogs do not immediately go deaf after hearing a gunshot. In most cases, the ear damage from continuous exposure to loud and close-by gunfire accumulates over time, leading to irreversible hearing impairment.
The Safe Decibel Range for Canine Ears
Some dog breeds have more sensitive ears than others, but studies show that noises over 120 to 140 decibels are enough to cause deafness in most dogs.
Since noises under 120 decibels are less dangerous, you can keep your hunting companion safe by keeping your gunfire below that range. Fortunately, several options are available for ensuring sounds above 120 decibels do not enter your dog’s ears, and we will explore these options shortly.
The Type of Hunt Impacts the Risk of Hearing Damage
Your hunting style with your dog can increase or decrease the likelihood of canine hearing injury. For instance, hunting techniques that involve your dog scouting ahead of you and scaring prey out of hiding are less likely to hurt your best friend’s ears.
The further away your dog is from you when you fire, the less intense and damaging the noise of your gunfire will be to the dog’s hearing. Sound pressure reduces by 6 decibels at 10 to 20 meters and drops another 6 decibels at double the distance.
How to Protect Your Dog’s Ears While Hunting
Shooting while your dog is far from you can help protect your best friend’s hearing, but not every hunter can afford to distance themselves from their dog before shooting. If you want to shoot while your dog is beside you without causing canine deafness, here are your best solutions:
Hunt with a Suppressor
A suppressor is an attachment that goes over the muzzle of your gun to muffle gunfire. With the help of the right suppressor, you can reduce gunfire noise by 20 to 35 decibels. That means if your gunfire typically registers at 150 decibels, a suppressor can bring it down to under 120 decibels, which is a safer loudness range for dogs.
Suppressors are available for various hunting rifles, including shotguns and big bore rifles. You can also get suppressors designed to work with your favorite caliber, including .308/7.62mm, .338, and .223/5.56mm.
Keep Dogs Well Behind the Muzzle
Let your dog stand behind and away from you before firing. Taking this precaution will ensure most of your gunfire noise travels away from your canine, reducing the amount of sound that reaches the dog’s ears.
Ear Muffs or Plugs
Several hearing protection products are available for dogs, and the two most popular options are ear muffs and ear plugs. Like human ear muffs, dog ear muffs go over dog ears to dull surrounding sounds. Ear plugs, on the other hand, go inside the ear to minimize how much the dog hears.
Ear plugs are typically more effective for hunting dogs because they are less clunky and likely to fall off. However, ear plugs and muffs have the downside of blocking out not just gunfire but also other noises. Putting such hearing protection on your dog may lead to the canine having trouble hearing your instructions or their surroundings to track prey or avoid predators.
The Happy Hoodie is a sleeve worn over a dog’s head to pin down their ears and reduce how much noise they hear. It does not offer as much hearing protection as ear muffs or ear plugs, but that’s not necessarily bad since the dog can hear more of its surroundings and your voice.
Additional Benefits of Hunting Suppressed
Besides minimizing gunfire noise to protect your dog’s ears, hunting with a suppressor has several other benefits. For instance, the reduced gunfire noise ensures that you and close-by hunters don’t suffer hearing damage.
The muted gunfire will also hide your presence if you shoot at prey and miss, giving you the chance to take a follow-up shot that seals the deal. Lastly, suppressed gunfire will make you a considerate hunter because your gunfire won’t scare off animals that other hunters are tracking.
Other benefits of hunting suppressed are:
Excessive recoil will cause the butt of your gun to painfully jam into your shoulder, leaving you sore after a day of hunting. Adding a suppressor to your muzzle will reduce recoil, making your gun more comfortable to shoot.
Recoil can cause your aim to shift, leading to a less accurate shot and trouble making follow-up shots. Since a suppressor minimizes recoil, you can look forward to reduced muzzle rise and more accurate shots when you shoot suppressed.
Suppressors come in various styles, sizes, and colors. The variety of options allows you to find a suppressor that can make your firearm a more impressive-looking piece.
A silencer can be anywhere between 5 and 15 inches long. The extra length the suppressor adds to your barrel can help improve bullet velocity and range to hit far-off targets. The added length improves velocity by giving gasses from gunpowder burning more time to expand, generating more pressure for launching rounds with more force.
Hunting with a Suppressor Can Protect Your Hearing and Your Dog’s
Your dog’s reward for obeying, trusting, loving, and serving you should not be deafness. If you won’t use a suppressor to protect your ears, do it for your best friend and loyal four-legged companion.
Fortunately, finding the perfect suppressor for your firearm is as easy as heading to our Silencer Central store. We offer top-of-the-line silencers for various firearms, calibers, and budgets, allowing you to pick the best one for your needs.
Visit us today to browse our suppressors and place an order to have your selection delivered to your doorstep.