To test hearing in animals, owners and veterinarians can test a patient’s response to high-pitched noises, such as whistling, or loud noises, such as clapping hands or banging an object. Though simple, this is the most practical way to know if an animal can hear. However, puppies and some adult animals do not respond to these noises consistently. In addition, this type of stimulus-response testing often fails to identify animals with hearing loss in one ear. Neurologists can utilize a hearing test known as a BAER test.

How the BAER Test Works

Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER), also known as Brainstem Evoked Potential (BSEP), testing is a hearing assessment that can be used to evaluate the hearing in dogs, cats and other domestic animals.

Not only does the test measure hearing, but it can also be used to test brainstem functionality. In relation to hearing, the brainstem transmits information to parts of the brain for interpretation. While most patients are awake for testing, some patients may require minor sedation for an accurate evaluation.

During the test, the neurologist places two foam headphones into the patient’s ears and inserts needle electrodes under the skin on the head. Click sounds are transmitted through the headphones and the electrical response is recorded to assess hearing in both ears. The test will not check their ability to hear different levels of noises, as only a one sound at a single preset volume is used. BAER testing is non-painful and presents no danger to the patients.

BAER Exams at CARE

CARE’s Neurology department offers the BAER test to breeders who wish to test their puppies’ hearing prior to placement with a new family. We also offer the test to clients whose pets do not respond to simpler tests. Most commonly, dog breeds with white fur and/or blue eyes are assessed for hearing. The embryologic origin of cells for hearing are similar to those responsible for coloring. Unfortunately, deafness is more prevalent in these breeds:

  • Dalmatians
  • Australian cattle dogs
  • English cocker spaniels
  • English setters
  • Jack Russell terriers
  • Boston terriers

We recognize that puppy diagnostics can be expensive. Thus, we offer discount pricing for large litters. Contact us if you have questions about the BAER test or believe your animal requires a neurologic evaluation.

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