How Can You Tell if Your Dog is Losing His Hearing?
5 December, 2015

As our dogs age, they will sometimes lose their hearing. It can sneak up on you (and your pup) suddenly and it can be hard to tell if your dog’s hearing is impaired or something else is happening. There are some signs that you can look out for to help assess if your dog is losing his hearing.

The below are some indicators that your dog may be suffering from some form of hearing loss:

1. Your dog doesn’t know you’re in the room until you physically touch him or he sees you.

2. Your dog turns the wrong way when you call him.

3. Your dog does not respond to outside stimuli, such as the doorbell ringing or other dogs barking.

4. Your dog shows no response or seems confused when given familiar vocal commands.

5. Your dog barks excessively.

6. Your dog’s paws or ears or appears to have itchy, painful ears.

If you see any of the above signs, you should take your dog to the vet for a diagnosis

How will your veterinarian diagnose deafness?

Your vet can initially examine your dog’s ear canal for wax accumulation, infections, inflammation, injury or foreign object. For more serious cases, one common procedure is BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response). During the procedure, small electrodes are placed under the skin of a dog’s scalp to measure (visibly on a computer screen) his auditory response to outside stimuli.

It’s also a good idea to keep your dog’s ear canals clean with frequent visits to the vet and to immediately investigate a possible ear infection or suspected hearing loss.

Deafness in dogs can be temporary or permanent

Temporary hearing loss can be caused by a wax build-up in your dog’s ear canals. This is especially common in dogs with narrow ear canals, such as poodles. Certain dogs with lots of hair around their ears have a tendency to have their ear canals blocked by hair, which collects wax and eventually forms a plug. Or a foreign object in a dog’s ear canal can also impede the ability to hear.

Permanent hearing loss can be caused by old age, drug toxicity, injury or untreated ear infections. A dog can also be born without the ability to hear, because of a genetic or anatomical problem.

Only temporary deafness can be reversed

Only temporary deafness can be reversed, just as in humans. And, as mentioned above, it’s probably due to a build-up of wax in his ears. If this is the case, your veterinarian may have you clean his ears daily with a prescription wash. If the hearing loss is caused by a build-up of hair in his ears, a veterinarian can remove the hair. Infections that cause hearing loss should be treated with appropriate medication.

Permanent hearing loss cannot be reversed, but your pet can still have a good quality of life. You should keep your dog safely leashed while outside and teach her hand signals so that you may communicate with her. And patience goes a long way. Hearing impaired dogs can still live a long fulfilled life.



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