Symptoms of Deafness in Dogs
Dogs can lose their hearing for different reasons. Some dogs are born deaf or lose their hearing in the first few weeks of life. Partial or complete deafness is common in senior dogs, with or without complicating health factors. Or, a dog can lose his hearing due to infection or trauma. In these cases, it’s important to know the signs that your dog may be losing his hearing so that proper treatment or care can be started. Keep reading to learn more!
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Are certain breeds of dogs predisposed to deafness?
More than 30 breeds of dogs have a known susceptibility for deafness, including the Australian Shepherd, Boston Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier, Maltese, Toy and Miniature poodle, and West Highland White Terrier.
Congenital deafness is generally irreversible. Experts think that there is a connection between congenital deafness in dogs and coat color, however, the cause has not been fully established. Merle and white coat colors are associated with deafness at birth in dogs and other animals.
How can I tell if my dog has a problem with his ears?
The onset of deafness in most dogs is gradual and most dog parents don’t suspect any problems until distinct changes in behavior are observed. More often than not, pet owners think that their pets are suffering from behavior issues. Many behaviors can reflect that your dog has hearing problems, such as:
- He doesn’t respond when you call his name.
- He frequently shakes his head to the side.
- Your dog seems disoriented.
- If your dog is losing his hearing due to infection, you may notice him scratching at the ears or developing painful inflammation or discharge in the ear canal.
- Your dog may appear insecure and become scared suddenly and apparently for no reason or remains in an unusual state of alert.
- He doesn't direct his gaze in the direction of sounds.
What should I do if my dog can’t hear?
If your dog is showing signs of hearing loss or suddenly becomes deaf, be sure to have her examined by your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will be able to perform a full physical exam, including an otoscopic (ear) exam to rule out other potential diseases.
Permanent hearing loss can seem daunting, but your dog will adapt quite well. When training a deaf dog, use visual cues rather than auditory commands. Use your hands to indicate what you want to teach to create a language that you both understand. Consistency will be the key.
Be cautious and patient with your dog. Avoid walking your dog without its leash. When you want to get his attention, use a flashlight or stomp the ground so that the vibration and light will be noticeable.
How Deafness in Dogs is Diagnosed
- Complete Veterinary Exam
Your vet will examine your dog’s ear for any abnormalities using an otoscope. It’s a special instrument that allows examination of the inner parts of the ear.
- Hearing Test
Your vet may step behind your dog or stand far enough away from your pet and clap loudly to check the animal’s response.
- Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) Test
The test was originally used to assess hearing in infants. This is accomplished by recording the brain’s electrical activity in response to sound. This test is only available at certain specialty clinics and veterinary schools.
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