Similar to humans, military dogs are susceptible to hearing loss from exposure to high noise.
Highly trained dogs play a crucial role in the US military. Around 1,600 dogs help soldiers with important tasks including identifying targets and spotting explosives. For instance, an army dog by the name of Conan rose to fame earlier this year when he assisted secret military forces in killing the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria.
The Army is now experimenting on new technology that will better protect K-9 partners’ hearing while they are on the job, according to John Vandiver of Stars and Stripes. Like human workers, army dogs are frequently exposed to loud noises during training and in the field, and they are susceptible to both temporary and permanent hearing loss.
According to Stephen Lee, a senior researcher at the Military Research Study Office, “A brief helicopter flight can also affect a dog’s hearing, resulting in degraded efficiency and inability to hear the handler’s directions, which might impede the operation.”
Military dogs may now use hearing protection equipment, but the canines have a difficult time wearing the gear since they are inflexible. Therefore, Peter Scheifele, executive director of the animal acoustics lab Fetchlab, and the clinical device business Zeteo Technology have been collaborating to create improved equipment with funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command.