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 deafness. It is relatively easy to tell when a dog is 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 hearing loss:
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, the most common causes.
- Nerve damage in elderly dogs.
- Fluid buildup in the brain that damages the part of the brain used for hearing. This is caused by poor development of nerve receptors in the ear.
- Cancerous or benign tumors affecting nerves.
- Infectious diseases causing inflammation such as distemper. Inflamed masses in the ear can also lead to hearing loss.
- Physical trauma that affects the nerves.
- Inflammation of the outer ear.
- 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 loss is a result of inflammation in any part of the ear, there are surgical and medical procedures that can reduce the inflammation. These procedures, however, may have different results if there are other diseases or conditions that are affecting your dog.
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. In this case, you should always make sure to keep your dog safe and away from environments where they may not be able to hear incoming threats, such as cars.
If you feel as though your dog might be losing its hearing, or that it may be experiencing any other issues related to old age, schedule an appointment at American Veterinary Hospital today! We are happy to increase your dog’s happiness, longevity, and overall well-being as they transition to this new stage in life.