Much like humans, dogs tend to lose their hearing, either partially or completely, as they age. Some dogs begin to lose their hearing at a young age, and certain breeds of dog are more susceptible to becoming deaf.
Dalmatians, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, and Boston Terriers are just some of the breeds that are known to be more genetically predisposed to hearing deficits. It is relatively easy to tell when dogs are born deaf, but it can be far more difficult to figure out whether they are losing their hearing.
Here are some signs to look for which may indicate that your dog is experiencing abnormal hearing:
Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many things that can cause hearing loss in dogs, just like there a variety that can lead to human deafness. Some of these risk factors include:
- Old age nerve changes, the most common cause of acquired hearing loss in dogs.
- Nerve damage that accumulates over the lifespan of a dog.
- Fluid buildup or scarring in the part of the brain that damages the part of the brain used for hearing. This is called central hearing loss.
- Cancerous or benign tumors affecting nerves used for hearing.
- Infectious diseases such as distemper.
- Inflammation in the ear canals can also lead to hearing loss by blocking sounds from reaching the ear drums.
- Physical trauma that affects the nerves related to hearing.
- Inflammation of the middle ear.
- Drugs such as antibiotics, antiseptics, and chemotherapy drugs can have a negative effect on a dog’s hearing.
- Exposure to heavy metals such as lead or mercury can also lead to deafness.
- Long-term inflammation of any part of the ear may make your dog more susceptible to hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
If your dog is becoming partially or fully deaf, you may notice these symptoms:
- No response or lowered response to everyday sounds.
- Your dog may not respond when you say his name, or you may have to say it louder before he responds.
- He may be unresponsive to squeaky toys that he previously reacted to quickly.
- Loud noises may not wake your dog as easily as they used to, or at all.
- Your dog may also begin to bark excessively––much more than previously.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If your dog is beginning to lose his hearing, there are several measures that can be taken to reverse or slow the damage. If the hearing loss is a result of inflammation in any part of the ear, there are surgical and medical procedures that can often reduce the condition. Results of treatment can vary depending on the cause(s) of the hearing deficit.
There are also hearing aids available for dogs; however, these are expensive and sometimes difficult for a dog to wear. Some dogs just have to deal with a decreased ability to hear. You can help keep him safe by avoiding environments where they may not be able to hear incoming threats, such as cars.
If you feel as though your dog might be losing her hearing, or that she may be experiencing any other issues related to old age, schedule an appointment at Apple Valley Veterinarians, LLC today! We are happy to increase your dog’s happiness, longevity, and overall well-being as they transition to this new stage in life.