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What is Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) Testing?

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BAER testing is a non-invasive hearing test that allows the board-certified veterinary neurologists at Southeast Veterinary Neurology (SEVN) in Miami and Boynton Beach to diagnose congenital or acquired hearing loss.  This specialized hearing test for dogs and cats takes approximately 10-15 minutes and tests each ear individually.  BAER testing can be performed at any point in a dog or cat’s life.  If you are interested in testing puppies or kittens, it can be performed after eight weeks of age.

WHY MIGHT MY PET NEED A BAER HEARING TEST?

BAER hearing tests are performed to determine if a pet can hear.  Symptoms of hearing loss may include not greeting the pet parent at the door, not responding to sounds such as the phone ringing, or difficulty waking from sleep.  Some dogs may be deaf in only one ear.  It can be tough to recognize deafness in these pets without a BAER test.

BAER tests are most often performed in litters of puppies to ensure that they can hear prior to going to their new home.  BAER hearing tests are also performed in individual adult dogs if their pet parent notices symptoms of hearing loss.

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WHAT CAN CAUSE HEARING LOSS?

Hearing loss can be congenital (from birth), or can be due to certain medications, ear cleaners, chronic ear infections, tumors, inflammation and age-related changes.

HOW DOES BAER HEARING TEST WORK?

Hearing involves transmitting sounds through the air, across the ear drum and then to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear.  Here, sound is turned into an electrical impulse that is carried in a nerve (called the cochlear nerve) to the brainstem.  As these electrical impulses move from the ear to the brainstem, they can be recorded on the surface of the body.

HOW IS A BAER HEARING TEST PERFORMED?

The BAER hearing test is completed by using a specialized computer that is connected to three electrodes placed just under the skin on the patient’s head.  The placement of these small electrodes is not painful to the pet.

Once the BAER electrodes are in place, the patient will then have a soft foam earphone placed in each ear.  These earphones make a clicking sound.  After the sound has been transmitted, the electrodes will detect any activity in the hearing pathways of the cochlear nerve and brainstem.

BAER testing needle insertion

This activity will be transmitted to the computer and will show as waveforms on a graph, much like an electrocardiogram (EKG) shows electrical activity in the heart.  Peaks in the waveform represent activity in the cochlea and other auditory pathways, while a flat waveform represents inactivity (deafness).

IS SEDATION NEEDED FOR A BAER TEST?

Most dogs do not require sedation for a BAER test.  Many puppies actually fall asleep during the hearing test.  If needed for your pet, sedation can be given.

HOW MUCH DOES A BAER TEST COST?

BAER testing is relatively inexpensive.  Litters of puppies that present for BAER tests usually cost between $50 and $100 per dog, depending on the number of puppies and the geographic location.  Testing of adult dogs is usually slightly more expensive.

WHEN WILL I GET RESULTS?

Once the testing is complete, the neurologists at SEVN will prepare a complete report of the findings.  Our BAER testing protocol is compliant with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).  An OFA certificate can be provided if requested.  Please bring these forms along with identification of each puppy.

BAER test screen

BOARD-CERTIFIED EXPERTS IN BAER TESTING IN SOUTH FLORIDA

At the time of this writing, Southeast Veterinary Neurology is the team of board-certified neurologists south of the University of Florida that performs BAER testing for dogs.

Call us today or request a consultation to start getting the help your pet needs in Boynton Beach, Miami and surrounding areas in South Florida.

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