BAER Hearing Clinics
BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) is the gold standard test for hearing in both animals and people.
Hearing clinics are run to measure hearing in Pedigree breeds (e.g. Dalmatian / Border Collies / Norwegian Forest cats and Maine Coons) and their offspring – it is an effective way of breeding the genetic element of deafness out of a pedigree breed. We also test animals with acquired deafness as a result of e.g. trauma, ear disease or old age.
The test involves placing 3 tiny needle electrodes under the skin. One is placed behind the head, one in the middle of the head and one in front of the ear being tested. A headphone is held over the ear being tested allowing a clicking sound to be played in to this ear at adjustable sound levels. This generates a computer graph measuring brain wave response to the sound, allowing us to assess hearing.
The test is usually quick and easy to perform, taking just a few minutes in an agreeable patient. We do, however allow 20 – 30 minutes per patient for young puppies and kittens and up to one hour for juniors and adults. This allows time to reassure any nervous patients. The optimal age for testing puppies is 5-6 weeks as many will be comforted with food and may fall asleep; making them unaware anything is going on. Kittens, in our experience are better tested at 8-9 weeks of age. Older patients can be tested at any age, but may require sedation so it is advisable that food is withheld for 8 hours prior to the procedure. We do always attempt conscious tests first.
On the day of the BAER test the clinic may be run by a vet or a specially trained nurse under veterinary supervision. You will be supplied with a copy of your pets BAER trace and also a certificate stating whether or not they have ‘passed’ the test in the right and left ears. It is advisable to bring puppies and kittens in a secure crate and to bring some food for very young patients. We always have experienced staff to hold our patients, but we encourage you to remain with your pet for the duration of the test.