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How can I improve my dog's hearing? Deafness In Dogs!

Can deafness in dogs be cured?

Many people believe that deafness in dogs is an uncommon problem, but the truth is that about many dogs of all purebred dogs are unilaterally or bilaterally deaf. What's more, some dog breeds are more prone to deafness than others (e.g., Doberman Pinschers).

The lack of noise and auditory stimulation in a dog's early life can cause him to compensate for his hearing loss by using vision and other senses.

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Deaf dogs can do many things, such as understand their canine friends, teach themselves to communicate with the world around them, learn tricks and have complex behaviors associated with deafness.

Deaf dogs can be trained to "hear" using their sight and smell (e.g., dogs that befriend a blind person on walks), they can hear on television or radio (e.g., via a hearing aid), or they can even hear (or sense) sounds in the human ear canal.

Is my dog deaf or just ignoring me?

There are many different reasons a person may have a deaf dog, including, but not limited to:

What kind of signs might I observe if my dog is deaf?

Your dog may lack ability to hear or sense your voice when you call them.  This does not mean that they do not love you.  It just means that they cannot hear you when you call.  They may respond with behaviors such as:

Not really.  Although your dog may have a very mild hearing deficit, their brain may not be able to process the messages that they are receiving.  My opinion, is it just easier and more cost-effective for you to train your deaf dog than it would be to teach them how to listen.

Can deafness in dogs be cured?

The only cure for deafness is a surgical procedure to remove damaged areas in the dog's ear.  Severe hearing loss can be repaired with an operation performed by an ear specialist.  

The dog may still have a small hearing deficit for some time after the surgery, but he should be able to understand commands and respond appropriately. However nothing is guaranteed!

How can I improve my dog's hearing?

Deafness in dogs (dogs which are less than 6 months old and weigh less than 3kg) is generally due to a genetic defect which manifests itself as a form of congenital deafness, or a hearing loss.

To improve a dog's hearing is very difficult, in part because a dog with congenital deafness does not learn by what other people say but rather by what he/she hears.

It is important to take this into consideration. Therefore it is usually a lot more difficult to improve a deaf dog’s hearing than that of an average dog.

Foremost, you need to make sure that the ear canal has been properly cleaned after eartipping your pet.

Many times owners do not realise that they have forgotten to clean the ear canal after having done so every six months or so, or even less often, resulting in serious infections which can lead to permanent damage of the ear drum and/or middle-ear bones (malleus and stapes).

Do dogs know when they go deaf?

The first sign that a dog is deaf is that they do not recognise some sounds (like a name, word or command). This can be so subtle that the owner may not notice anything and it can also be a little more obvious, especially with very young puppies.

After some time the dog will learn to ignore the missing sounds and will continue to function as normal regardless of what the owner says.

However, if you notice that your pet ignores certain words, this should make you suspect he cannot hear them.

If this is the case, it is crucial you take your dog to see an ear doctor (otolaryngologist) who will be able to determine whether or not there is any malfunctioning of the hearing organ.

What can I do if my dog is deaf?

The most important thing is to remember that even a deaf dog can live as normal a life as possible, with the help of the owner. It is difficult to work with deaf dogs, but it is still possible! You will have to use a lot of visual signals, hand signs and other signals (like tapping your dog on the skin) instead of verbal commands.

However, talking to your pet is still very important because it will stimulate him/her. Deaf dogs do not respond to verbal communication but they are quite receptive when spoken to in sign language or tactile speech.

Another thing to remember is that a deaf dog will not be able to hear you if you are far away from him/her.

In fact, the ears of a deaf dog are more directed towards what is in front of them than those of an average dog. This also means that it is harder for them to hear sounds coming from behind.

Therefore, when you want your pet to come towards you, make sure they can see you or feel your presence; this will usually make him/her turn around and come towards you without consciously realising why they are doing so.

Can you make a deaf dog hear again?

If you have a deaf dog, it is important to understand that this is not something you can do! You will have to accept the fact that your dog cannot hear or speak and learn to live with this.

Most dogs which have lost their hearing will not be able to adapt as well as those who have been hearing all along.

What drugs cause deafness in dogs?

A long list of drugs can cause deafness in dogs. The most well-known is probably the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (aspirin, Naproxen, Ibuprofen and others).

Aspirin can cause temporary hearing loss in dogs as well as a number of other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

This type of drug makes the middle ear very sensitive so that any small amount of fluid which gathers there will lead to pain and deafness; it should therefore be used sparingly when treating dogs.

Antibiotics (especially penicillin) can also cause deafness in dogs. The use of these drugs should be limited.

Other drugs which can cause deafness in dogs are quinine and other quinolines (for example, quinine sulphate), barbiturates (for example, barbiturates used to treat epilepsy), as well as anesthetics (especially ototoxic anesthetics such as those used for instance in the treatment of cancer). These can all cause permanent deafness in dogs.

How can I test my dog's hearing at home?

You can come quietly in to a room and try to call your dog's name. Instead of speaking, show him/her your hand in a way that he/she can recognise as telling them to come.

If he/she does not come, and you know for sure that he/she is not sleeping or occupied with something else, it may be worth testing his/her hearing further by tapping on the floor next to you (the sound should be the same - or louder - than when tapping on a table).

If a deaf dog does come then it may be wise to take him/her to see an ear doctor.

How do vets test for deafness in dogs?

BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) is used by vets to test the hearing of both dogs and humans. This is a very advanced method which has to be used in a soundproof room and is able to tell us not only if a dog can hear but also how well he/she can hear in different frequencies.

It is more expensive than an ordinary hearing test but it is a very useful method.

Other tests for deafness

A lot of other tests are available which give more information about certain parts of the ear canal such as infection and damage caused by chemicals, middle ear infections and others.

These are obviously more expensive than a routine hearing test, they give better results than an ordinary audiogram but may not be necessary in all cases.

What breeds of dogs are prone to deafness?

Certain breeds are prone to deafness. This is probably because they have a genetic tendency to this condition. These are:

Other Questions

Can a deaf dog hear a dog whistle?

Some dog can hear frequencies like a dog whistle, and some can't. I have not seen any statistics about this, but I think the answer may well depend on the breed of dog.

In my experience dogs who are able to hear a dog whistle are:

  • All terriers. This is because they need to hear high-pitched noises in order to hunt underground.
  • Afghan Hounds and others whose ear canal is very open and therefore sensitive to very high sounds (such as Afghan Hounds).
  • Dogs with big ears (whippets, greyhounds, dachshunds).

How do you get a deaf dog's attention?

Thy things like clicking your fingers, or tapping it with a cane, or using the dog whistle are probably the most common ways to get a deaf dog's attention. But it has to be said that this is quite difficult. The dog will have to be looking at you, and not sleeping

Why is my dog suddenly deaf?

Lose of hearing can be either temporary of full on deafness. It is quite possible that it will be temporary, and that the dog will regain its hearing. Deafness can sometimes be caused by ear infections, by an ear mite infestation or by excessive cleaning of the ears.

Other causes include trauma to the head or ears, tinnitus (pain in the ear), and finally old age.

Author: Nick

Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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