Deafness or hearing loss in dogs can be temporary or partial. It can occur in either one ear or both. There are many reasons for it to happen, but the most common one is hereditary or old age.
Some breeds experience congenital deafness (deafness from birth), and you’ll be able to recognize it at a very early age. Some lose their hearing gradually, which can be hard to detect until it is partially or fully gone.
There are many symptoms that indicate a dog is losing its hearing, so you need to be vigilant about them. There are also many reasons as to why it happens, which can dictate the treatment. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes and symptoms of deafness in dogs and whether it can be treated or not.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are four types of hearing loss that could affect your furry friend:
Congenital Hearing Loss
Congenital hearing loss is a genetic problem. This means they either inherit the hearing loss or have a birth defect in ear development or a part of the nervous system that deals with hearing.
Acquired Hearing Loss
The animals that initially have normal hearing but acquire a hearing loss problem when they go through a trauma or an accident fall into this category. It can also be caused due to blockage of the ear canal, an infection or geriatric nerve degeneration. A number of other factors can also play a role such as toxic drugs like antibiotics and antiseptics or exposure to heavy metals.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
When neurotransmitters cannot transfer sound signals from the ear to the brain like they normally should or the part of the brain responsible for the interpretation of auditory data is affected, it can result in hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
In this type of hearing loss, the sound wave does not reach the nerves in the inner ear. This can happen due to inflammation of the outer ear or the middle ear.
The major symptom of deafness is having little to no response to any kind of sound. Try to keep a close eye on your dog when it doesn’t respond to the following sounds:
- Squeaking toys
- Fingers snapping
- Barking of other dogs
- Its own name
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty waking up
- Getting startled or scared easily
- Excessive barking
There are multiple factors that can result in hearing loss. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- Exposure to loud noises on a daily basis
- Exposure to lead, mercury, and arsenic
- Old age
- Foreign objects blocking the ear canal
- Wax buildup
- Infections caused by bacteria or yeast
If you see any suspicious behavior in your dog and you suspect it might not be hearing properly, try to test its hearing by loudly clapping near it or creating any other loud noise and noticing your dog’s behavior. You can also check one ear at a time by creating a soft noise like snapping fingers near one ear.
If your dog doesn’t give a response to any noise, take it to a veterinarian to get your dog checked. A veterinarian will need your dog’s history so that they can figure out what might have caused it to lose its hearing.
They will examine the ear canal to find out the cause. If they suspect an infection to be the culprit, cotton swabs will be used to diagnose the agent that is causing the infection.
To determine whether the hearing loss is due to a problem in the nervous system, a brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) will be conducted on the dog. This procedure is used to measure the brain’s response to external auditory stimuli. Radiographs can also be used to find the problem.
Whatever the cause may be, the treatment will be decided after the root of the problem has been diagnosed.
Different treatments are available for different causes of deafness in dogs. It can either be fixed or made a bit more bearable.
Congenital deafness is unlikely to be treatable. Most genetically developed deafness affects the delicate inner part of the ear or the nervous system, either of which is hard to treat. However, if the disease affects the outer or middle ear, surgery can be done to correct the hearing as much as possible.
Similarly, if your dog has a tumor in its ear that is causing the hearing loss, there are surgeries that will remove the tumor and free up the ear canal to improve hearing.
Hearing aids for dogs are becoming popular along with cochlear implants, and they are quite feasible to use. They are similar to the hearing aids for humans. However, an animal might not tolerate the presence of a foreign object and might not respond well to it. Otherwise, it’s a great solution, though a little expensive.
Treatment for Infections
For infections in the ear, the veterinarian usually prescribes an ointment or ear drops according to the type of infection. The vet may also prescribe antibiotics according to the severity of the problem.
Removing Foreign Objects
If a foreign object such as wax is causing the hearing loss, the veterinarian will remove the object and do a thorough ear cleaning. The removal of objects doesn’t usually require any surgery and after the treatment, the veterinarian will check for any internal injuries.
If your dog goes through a surgery, the recovery will take some time. Depending on how serious the surgery was, you might have to make numerous follow-up appointments to monitor the recovery process.
On the other hand, recovery from an infection will take approximately 2 to 3 weeks.
A deaf animal requires special care and demands a lot more time. You should never let your dog go outside alone if it is deaf as it might get into an accident. You should monitor it all the time and provide it the best treatment if there is a treatment available for its problem. Take good care of your buddy so that it can live a happy life!