Deafness in Dogs: What You Need to Know

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Deafness in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Dogs of all ages and breeds have been known to suffer from deafness or a loss of hearing. It’s so common in some breeds, including Dalmatians, Cocker Spaniels and Australian Shepherds, that we oftentimes recommend hearing testing when they are only a few weeks old for possible deafness or hearing difficulties. Even if your puppy isn’t born with deafness, however, a loss of hearing isn’t uncommon for senior dogs.

Does your pet struggle hear you call his or her name, get confused often or sleep through loud noises or squeaks from a favorite toy? Perhaps these are signs of deafness.

Deafness in dogs can be temporary or long-term, based on the cause. While short-term deafness is usually a result from wax build up or access hair that needs grooming, the more permanent causes can be due to old age or an injury, such as an untreated ear infection.

How do I know if my dog is deaf?

If your pet is experiencing any symptoms (such as unresponsiveness to his or her name or little to no reaction to food dishes rattling or favorite toys squeaking), you may want to schedule an exam with your veterinarian and be sure to inquire about hearing testing. First, your veterinarian will conduct an exam of your pet’s ears just to make sure that there is no wax or access hair in the way of the ear canal. Your vet may also be able to spot a previously unknown ear infection.

If your veterinarian determines that a more serious cause may be in effect, a BAER hearing test may be scheduled. A BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test allows your vet to read results of stimuli directed to your dog’s ears and their responses to different levels of noise. These tests are harmless and very accurate.

Can deafness be prevented or treated?

The best way to prevent deafness is to actively monitor for ear infections. If an ear infection goes too long without treatment, you are asking for serious hearing issues down the road. Another way to help ensure your pet can hear is to do research on your breeder if you are a pet owner and to practice responsible breeding if you are a breeder. Veterinarians recommend that breeders don’t breed deaf dogs to decrease chances of passing along those traits to offspring.

Temporary deafness can be reversed but, unfortunately, long-term hearing difficulties have no treatment at this time. If your dog suffers from temporary deafness, cleaning the ears of wax and extra hair should have your pet back to normal in no time. Pet owners of dogs with permanent hearing quickly adapt and find that their pets can live happy, fulfilled lives.

If your pet shows warning signs of deafness, please call Butte Oroville Veterinary Hospital and let us know if we can help! 

Posted Monday, July 28, 2014