I was asked about this the other day and must admit I knew very little about it. I decided to conduct a bit of research into hearing loss in dogs and put out a bit of a guide for any worried owners out there.
In terms of the different types of hearing loss in dogs, they are very similar to those used to describe the hearing loss in humans.
What are the main types of hearing loss in dogs?
This is when the dog is born with the condition. It may be due to inherited genes or some defect in the ear development or the ears nervous system. It is thought that some breeds and coat colors of dogs may be more prone to inherited deafness.
This is when the dog develops deafness due to an injury, old age, an infection or even a blockage. Other causes can be from prolonged exposure to heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. Tumors growing and exposure to loud noises such as gun fire can also lead to loss of hearing for your dog.
Within these the deafness may be either conductive, (sound from outside cannot reach the nerves in the inner ear), or sensorineural, (signals from the nerves don’t reach the brain).
How to spot the symptoms of hearing loss in dogs.
Once again this can be broken down into two areas.
Total hearing loss.
The easier of the two to spot. Look for things like; no response to squeaking toys, excessive barking, clapping your hands behind its head, it doesn’t respond when you call its name, It is difficult to wake, it doesn’t respond to other dogs. This should be fairly easy to see.
Partial hearing loss.
Not so easy but you just need to be a bit more subtle. Probably the best way to test this is to snap or click your fingers close to one ear then the other and look for a different response in each ear.
If my dog has hearing loss or is deaf, what can I do?
If the hearing loss is permanent there isn’t a lot can be done surgically. On rare occasions where the defect causing the deafness is in the outer or middle ear then surgery can be attempted to fix things but this is not common.
If the hearing loss is partial or caused by something such as a tumor or a blockage or even an infection, then it is likely that the vet will be able to perform some procedure to restore the hearing.
In some cases, as with humans, hearing aids or even cochlear implants are becoming available. These devices and implants work pretty much the same way they do in humans. However, dogs may not be very receptive to the presence of the foreign body and may try to remove it. These options are also very expensive.
Can my deaf or hard of hearing dog have a quality of life?
Most certainly yes. Obviously, your pet will require special attention but it can totally have a fun and full life.
Make sure your dog is chipped with the information that it is deaf or hard of hearing.
Never let your dog out into a garden or yard that isn’t completely surrounded by a fence or unless it is on a leash. It won’t hear you calling and it won’t be able to hear traffic approaching.
Look at getting a vibrating collar for your dog. With a remote control, you can teach them to know when you want their attention.
Teach your dog hand signals rather than voice commands. Many working dogs are commanded through hand signals so you should be able to teach your dog with a bit of patience.
The bottom line is, we owe it to man’s best friend to look after them. If you have any doubt regarding your dogs hearing then please make an appointment with your vet and get them checked. A healthy pet is a happy pet.
I would love to hear from anyone who has or had a deaf or hard of hearing dog. How did you discover it? What was the outcome? If you have any other information you would like to share then please leave a comment below.
If you have any other information you would like to share then please leave a comment below I will reply asap.