Dogs have much sharper hearing than humans, which allows them to perceive sounds that are inaudible to us. Deafness in dogs is a relatively common condition and can occur from birth or develop over time.
Let's see what are the main factors that cause deafness and how to tell if your dog is going deaf, as well as the options we have to solve this problem.
What Causes a Dog to Go Deaf?
The causes of canine deafness are very varied and can be classified as acquired or congenital. In the first case, deafness appears due to a condition or trauma; in the second it is present from birth.
There are also varying degrees of deafness. When it is total, the dog cannot hear any of the sounds that are generated around him. On the other hand, if it is partial, it means that he still perceives some. Deafness can also be unilateral (only one ear) or bilateral (when both ears are affected).
The most common is that it is due to one of the following causes:
If it is due to an infection or a blockage, surely the dog can regain its hearing capacity with the appropriate treatment. On the other hand, at other times there will be no turning back. In any case, it will be the veterinarian who can assess the condition of the dog's ear and offer a reliable diagnosis.
You should know that some breeds are more prone to canine deafness than others. Among these, the Dalmatians, the Bull Terriers, the Cocker Spaniel or the San Bernardo stand out. In general, white dogs have a greater genetic predisposition towards this condition, which has to do with a lack of pigmentation inside the ear. This can lead to deafness even in puppies. On the other hand, advanced age also plays a role.
What Symptoms Does a Deaf Dog Have?
The symptoms of deafness in dogs will vary depending on the cause that prevents them from hearing normally.
Some of the most obvious signs are:
In addition, the dog may appear somewhat disobedient or you may detect changes in his behavior. If he has a deafness problem, it is not that he ignores you, it is that he cannot hear you. If you suspect that this is what is happening, our advice is that you take him to the vet so that he can examine him well. Only then can you get out of doubt.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Going Deaf?
If you suspect that your dog is deaf, you can perform some simple tests at home to determine his degree of reaction to sounds. When the dog has his back to you, make a sound that does not produce vibration, such as turning on the television, placing his food container on the floor, or shaking something that makes noise.
If the dog does not react, you should consider deafness as a possibility and proceed to determine its causes together with a veterinarian. If, on the other hand, he is disoriented looking for sound, it may be one-sided and even reversible deafness.
Professionally there is a test to determine deafness in dogs, called BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response), which is performed by a veterinarian. The test consists of placing a series of electrodes on the dog's head, accompanied by headphones on the ears. Faced with sound stimuli sent to the headphones, the dog's brain response level is studied. The only downside is that it is an expensive exam and not all vets are trained to perform it.
However, by observing the signs that we have mentioned in the previous section and with the correct advice of your pet's veterinarian, they will be able to discover what the problem is. X-rays of the ear, observation of the ears, and a study of the clinical history of the animal, among others, are in the pertinent analyses.
How is Deafness Treated in Dogs?
If the deafness is due to simple otitis and is detected early, the normal thing is that the dog manages to recover in a matter of days. When there is a wax plug involved, it will be enough to carry out the proper cleaning so that our furry friend can hear again as before. However, sometimes there is no possible treatment. In that case, there will be no other option but to accept the situation.
What a deaf dog requires is understanding and a lot of love, as well as patience. When you approach him, for example, always try to do it head-on, so as not to startle him. If the hearing has not completely atrophied, call out to the dog using claps or some other low sound, until he gets used to responding to this sound.
Outside the home, it is essential to be extremely careful, as the dog will not be able to detect sounds that warn it of approaching dangers. Whenever you go out for a walk, put your dog on a leash and do not leave him free in unsafe, crowded places or where he can run and escape. On the other hand, train your dog in the same way that you would with one that can hear, only instead of sounds for commands use signs and hand gestures.
As a form of prevention, we also recommend that you put on a collar with a tag that not only indicates the dog's name and your contact information but also includes the word “Deaf”. Add a bell to the collar, so it is easy for you to know where the dog is at all times.
Do not be confused. That a dog cannot hear does not mean that he is not healthy or that he will be more aggressive or antisocial. With your love, understanding, and care, surely your canine companion will soon be able to adapt and have the full life they deserve.
Important: This article is for informational purposes only. We always recommend that you go to a trusted vet with your pet first.