Service Dog teams function as a single unit. Where one half goes, the other follows. This includes any extreme environments or conditions the team encounters, like burning pavement, salt-strewn streets, excessive noise, and blinding lights or glare. For Service Dog handlers who regularly find themselves out in the elements or in super loud/bright areas, proper protective gear for their Service Dog might be a good investment. Utilizing protective gear for your partner’s eyes and ears can prolong a Service Dog’s working life. Furthermore, quality protective gear can help a hard working Service Dog work in comfort for longer.
1Service Dog Eye Protection: Rex Specs
Eye protection consists of safety glasses or goggles that completely cover or encase the eyes in shatterproof lenses. The goggles help protect the wearer from projectiles, chemicals, sparks, excessive heat, and ultraviolet rays. Eye protection is designed to be comfortable when worn for long periods.When it comes to Service Dogs and personal protective equipment (PPE), eye protection definitely tops the list of “must haves.”
When Does Your Service Dog Need Eye Protection?
The situations and scenarios where a Service Dog might require eye protection are countless and varied. Essentially, if you would be wearing eye protection or sunglasses for comfort and safety, your Service Dog probably needs eye protection as well. A few situations and environments in which your Service Dog definitely needs protective gear for their eyes include:
- Exposure to high velocity winds, water, or situations where flying debris is a possibility, i.e. riding in a sidecar, surfing, kayaking, rafting, approaching a helicopter, sticking head out of the car window, riding on a four wheeler, etc.
- Prolonged exposure to the sun’s glare and ultraviolet light, i.e. being in the desert or being out in snow for extended periods, regardless of the activity
- Excursions in and through underbrush, heavily forested areas, or the backcountry, especially if your Service Dog is running, chasing, or moving quickly
- Working with handler in a lab or job where chemicals are regularly handled
- Working in any sterile or clean-room type environment that requires eye protection for the handler
- Industrial environments in which heavy machinery operates
- Welding, metalworking, grinding, dremeling anything but your dog’s nails
- Environments in which objects, tools, or pieces of wood, metal, plastic or other materials could become a projectile and strike or penetrate the eyes, i.e. factory floors, garages, workshops, construction sites, some types of artist studios
- Working under fluorescent or harsh overhead lighting for hours on end, i.e. many offices, hospitals, big box stores, and schools
Protective Gear Prevents Eye Injury
According to the American Center for Ophthalmology (ACO), over 20,000 Americans suffer a work-related eye injury every year. That doesn’t include eye injuries caused by hobbies, like hiking or tinkering with cars, or students working with chemicals, or long-term damage by sunlight or harsh overhead lighting. The ACO further notes that eye protection and protective gear could easily prevent roughly 90% of those eye injuries.
While there are no statistics on eye injuries in Service Dogs or other working dog types, the numbers above clearly show that eye injuries happen on the job. Does your job mandate eye protection or personal protective equipment (PPE) for you? If yes, then your Service Dog also needs eye protection.
If you’re hiking or skiing with goggles to prevent snow blindness or overexposure to UV rays, your Service Dog also needs eye protection to help protect them from the wind, sun, snow, temperatures, and glare. Basically, if you’re required to wear PPE at at work, your Service Dog needs to be similarly outfitted with protective gear. Better safe than sorry — if there’s a chance protective gear could prevent eye injury, then your Service Dog needs to wear protective gear.
Service Dog Eye Protection: Rex Specs Protective Gear
Rex Specs offers excellent eye protection for your dog that meets or exceeds the safety standards for human protective gear. The contoured Rex Spec dog goggles come in two sizes to fit all manner of canines and skull structures. There are multiple frame colors and two lenses, one for shielding eyes from projectiles and one for filtering UV rays. Per their website, “Rex Specs are optimized for the working dog.”
The dog goggles design does not obstruct vision. The ergonomic fit has a soft foam edge that seals snugly to your Service Dog’s face, which prevents dust and debris from getting under the goggles. You can easily customize the fit and the goggles stay put, regardless of the abuse thrown at them.
Like any piece of working dog equipment, you need to carefully introduce Rex Specs to your Service Dog. Take things slow and make it a positive experience. You can find additional training tips to help make teaching your Service Dog to wear eye protection easier on the Rex Specs dog goggles website.
Doggles provide a sleeker, less bulky alternative to Rex Specs. They’re $24.99 a pair, but do not offer the same type of fit, ergonomics, or protection.
2Service Dog Ear Protection: Mutt Muffs & Aquabandit
Dogs have extremely sensitive hearing, much more sensitive than a human. They also hear in ranges we cannot, including noises both lower and higher than our audible noise spectrum. To put things into perspective, your Service Dog can hear noises at nearly twice the frequency humans can. They also hear noises that are about 4 times further away than humans.
Furthermore, the ears themselves are very sensitive. The canine body is a carefully crafted work of art, and that includes the ears. There is balanced environment within the ear that includes small cultures of yeast, beneficial bacteria, microbes, and wax. The introduction of debris, water, chemicals, high velocity air, or dust can upset this delicate balance. When things are out of balance in your Service Dog’s ears, infection, swelling, and pain can result.
When Does Your Service Dog Need Ear Protection?
Excessively noisy environments, including those that have steady sustained noise at the upper decibel ranges, and environments where dust, water, compressed air, or debris are common all require protective gear for the ears. Multiple studies and experts all agree that exposure to loud noises and sustained noises can severely damage a dog’s hearing. Even infrequent exposure to loud noises can cause irreversible damage. To learn more about working dogs and hearing, check out the linked article by SiriusDog.
If something hurts your ears, you can rest assured it is hurting your Service Dog’s ears. Does the environment dictate ear protection for you while working or during leisure activities? If yes, then your Service Dog needs protective gear, too. If you’re in choppy water or dusty environments, you should consider some ear protection for your dog. Here are a few environments and situations where your Service Dog could benefit from ear protection:
- Working in or near an airfield or airport
- Attending drag races or NASCAR events
- Shooting, whether on a range or while hunting
- Fireworks or explosives demonstrations
- Riding in a helicopter or traveling in a plane
- Attending a concert or event with mega sound systems
- Working around or with large engine systems
- Industrial environments and factory floors
- Construction sites
- Pep rallies, spirit festivals, and school events
- Being in or around police stations or fire stations (sirens)
- White water rafting, surfing, kayaking
- Around power tools
- Attending movies at the theater
- Hiking in the desert where dust storms are a possibility
- Working in laboratories with chemicals, especially if your Service Dog has upright ears
Mutt Muffs Noise Ear Protection For Dogs
Mutt Muffs pride themselves on offering the only over-the-head ear protection available for animals. Developed by pilots to protect their dog’s sensitive ears from the engine noise while in flight, Mutt Muffs now provide hearing protection for dogs in dozens of situations. They’re used by all kinds of working dogs, including search and rescue dogs, police dogs, military working dogs, and, of course, Service Dogs.
Mutt Muffs are not noise eliminating or noise canceling. Instead, they offer ‘passive decibel reduction’, meaning that they reduce damaging noise levels to acceptable noise levels. This also means your Service Dog can still hear you and respond to cues/commands while wearing Mutt Muffs.
Designed specifically for dogs, these ear protection headsets follow the contours of the canine skull. They can be comfortably worn for hours at a time by dogs of all sizes. There are 5 sizes available to fit dogs from 5 pounds to 150 pounds. Prices range from $57.49 for XS Mutt Muffs to $60.49 for XL Mutt Muffs.
Aquabandit Water Ear Protection For Dogs
Water is full of microbes, bacteria, viruses, and debris. 1 out of every 3 dogs will see a vet for an ear infection this year. Many of those infections begin when dust, debris, or water get into the ear canal and upset the delicate balance within. Those foreign bodies can also trigger an increase in yeast or wax production, which can become painful and threaten hearing.
The Aquabandit head wrap for dogs offers protection from water and everything in water, both seen and unseen. It’s a stretchy band that seals your dog’s ears, which prevents water from entering. It’s comfortable to wear. The Aquabandit comes in many sizes and colors. Pricing varies from $28.99 to $32.99, depending on size.
In our next Protective Gear for Service Dog articles, we’ll be covering gear for feet, coat, joints, temperature protection, special scenarios (Service Dogs working in hospitals, labs, or other unique situations), and impact protection equipment. Can you think of anything else we should cover? Does your Service Dog wear protective gear? If so, what kind? Where do they wear it? Do you have any questions or something to add? We’d love to hear all about it, so chime in with a comment!