Hearing is an incredibly important part of the human experience, allowing us to communicate with one another, stay safe, and have a whole lot of fun. But while you likely know how important your own hearing is, have you ever wondered what hearing like for your pet and other animals?
Humans experience sound vibrations through their ears, which are positioned on the head laterally and do not move independently. This puts humans at a bit of a disadvantage when compared to many animals and our brains are also set up to rely more heavily on our vision as well. Our range of hearing also shrinks as we age. This is because the small, fine hairs in our ears that help to detect sound waves become damaged over time and with prolonged exposure to sounds (especially loud ones).
A dog’s hearing is largely dependent on his breed and genetics and, like humans, some dogs will experience some hearing loss as they age. Unlike humans, dogs are able to independently control their ears, allowing them to move their ear towards a sound to hear it better.
Dogs are able to hear higher frequencies than humans, which is why they respond well to ultrasonic dog whistles that humans can’t hear.
Cats have a great range of hearing, surpassing dogs when it comes to high-frequency ranges. While cats don’t use these high-frequency sounds for communicating, it is thought that this is important for hunting as many rodent species communicate with ultrasonic calls.
A cat’s hearing is very sensitive and, like dogs, cats are able to move their ears and direct them towards sounds for better reception.
A horse’s hearing is similar in range to that of humans, but it is much keener. A horse’s ears can move 180 degrees, giving them the ability to receive sounds more accurately. This range of motion allows horses to single out a specific area to listen to and isolate sound.
Bats are probably the animal that is most famous for its hearing, and their hearing range varies widely, depending on the species. Due to their nocturnal nature, many bats use a type of sonar called echolocation to help them hunt in the dark. These bats emit a loud, short call between 20 - 200 kHz and listen for the “echo” of their call bouncing off of objects and prey. The bats then estimate the time it took for the sound to come back to them, telling them where the obstacles are and how far away.
As you can see, human hearing is relatively unsophisticated when compared to that of your pets and other animals in the wild. That’s beginning to change with recent technological innovations in hearing aids and hearing devices though. Some of today’s advanced hearing aids can give the wearer better hearing than normal in noisy environments and there may come a time when many people have hearing aids for the sake of better-than-normal hearing... Whether they are experiencing hearing loss or not!