Does your canine friend seem to be experiencing hearing loss? Are you unsure about whether you should take them to the vet? If that’s the case, we compiled some of the most important information about hearing loss in dogs in this article, including the most common causes, the clinical symptoms that you might notice, as well as whether there is any treatment that you can rely on.
What causes hearing loss in dogs?
There are two major types of deafness in dogs. Congenital deafness is what a dog that was born deaf experiences, whereas acquired deafness is what a dog that has gone through trauma, had an infection, a blockage of the ear canal or is going through geriatric nerve degeneration will exhibit.
While congenital deafness is caused either by a birth defect or abnormal anatomy of the ear components on account of genetic inheritance, whereas acquired deafness is caused by a variety of factors.
Hearing loss in older dogs is natural and happens without a particular reason other than the degeneration of a nerve. Therefore, senior dog hearing loss is something to worry less about. Deafness can be alarming when it is the result of something pathological, something other than old age.
For example, temporary hearing loss in dogs can be caused by foreign object blockage, injury, or even drug toxicity (medication such as chlorhexidine, furosemide, and others have this potential side effect). Acute hearing loss in dogs can also be caused by repeated exposure to loud noises (such as stereo equipment or gunfire).
Progressive hearing loss, however, can be caused by infections, injuries that aren’t treated in due time, chronic inflammation, as well as tumors.
There aren’t too many hearing loss symptoms in dogs that you might notice in your canine friend other than the fact that he or she is unresponsive to audible stimuli. If you do suspect that it’s what your dog is suffering from and you’d like to perform a dog hearing loss test at home, meaning before you take your canine buddy to the vet, you can clap loudly while he/she isn’t looking at you.
If your dog has lost his/her sense of hearing in only one ear, you might have a little trouble telling if this has happened.
The veterinarian is going to be able to tell if that’s what’s wrong with your dog. There are several things that can be done in this sense, before any type of dog hearing loss treatment is initiated. At first, the vet will simply look into your dog’s ears to see whether there are any signs of infection or parasites, whether too much hair has grown and accumulated in there or whether there is any wax buildup.
Ear swabs and bacterial cultures can tell just what type of ear infection your dog is suffering from, and this test is necessary in order for the vet to prescribe the right antibiotic treatment. When other types of deafness are suspected, including, for example, an old dog hearing loss, a BAER test or a radiograph might be able to determine the cause and clinical manifestation of the issue.
Although we wouldn’t want to disappoint you, you have to be informed and know that there is no dog hearing loss treatment for geriatric deafness. Congenital deafness isn’t usually treatable, either, but in some cases, corrective surgery can be performed and could solve the defect to some extent. However, the dog in question will never have the same quality of hearing like a dog that wasn’t born with such a defect.
While hearing aids might be able to do something in cases where the dog has lost his or her hearing, they are extremely impractical. Cochlear implants are somewhat more practical and effective, but they tend to cost a lot of money, which is why some pet parents might not be able to afford them.
If the dog sudden hearing loss was caused by a foreign object, the vet will examine the ear canal and attempt to remove the blocking object, and also clean the wax without plucking any of the ear hair.
Dog ear infection hearing loss is something more or less common, and if the infection is treated with the correct medication, usually the problem goes away. If the infection is severe, the vet might choose to administer a systemic antibiotic and treat the problem locally, as well. You will be required to use medicated ear flush and a topical ointment for as many as two to three weeks at home.
In certain situations, doing so can prove to be impossible. Some dogs might show behavioral issues when their ears are being handled, especially if the pain and inflammation are severe. If treating the infection at home is not feasible, the vet could insert a longer acting wax-based medication into the ear while you are at the clinic with your canine friend.
Deaf pets need special care
A dog that has lost his hearing, especially one that has done so completely, will never be the same as a dog with healthy hearing. Never leave your deaf pet to step out of the house (especially if there’s a chance that he or she could escape or go right into the street) without someone’s supervision. There’s nothing stopping a deaf dog from running straight into a moving car, and that’s for a trivial reason like him looking some other way.
Also, deaf pets have to be walked in-leash — always. Even though it might take you a lot of time, try to get used to the idea that simply talking to your dog or calling him will not get his attention. To do that, you should lightly pet your canine friend on the head. Don’t use gestures and try to position yourself in front of your deaf dog rather than behind him or her. In other words, avoid startling your pet.
To keep your deaf dog safe at all times, get him or her microchipped and use a collar with an ID tag (and your contact information).