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Deafness And Hearing Loss In Dogs

Deafness In Dogs

Deafness or hearing loss or Hearing impairment refers to the complete or partial, permanent or temporary inability to hear sounds.

Just like humans, dogs can suffer hearing loss as they age. Usually, geriatric deafness may be difficult to notice as it is a gradual process and eardrums flexibility decreases with age. Some dogs are not aware of the loss of hearing. Generally, high-pitched noises are hard to distinguish and the ability to perceive low-pitched noises is not affected.

Chronic ear infections are another major cause of hearing loss. Wax build-up in the ear canals causes temporary hearing loss. Traumatic injury to the ear causes hearing loss that may be temporary or permanent.

Some dogs are prone to be deaf due to genetic defects; this is called congenital deafness. Congenital deafness can be either cochleosaccular (pigment-related) or neuroepithelial (non- pigment-related). Most often congenital deafness is cochleosaccular (the color of the coat), and most of these dogs have piebald or merle genes (white pigmentation). It is often associated with blue eyes and white pigmentation and produces deafness in one or both ears.

Symptoms Of Deafness

Hearing loss is more complicated than it seems - although it can be one of many symptoms that surface out caused by an underlying condition, there is also a possibility that it may an independent condition manifested.

In any case, you should be careful about these symptoms of deafness in your dog:

  • No response to clapping
  • No response to other dogs barking
  • Difficult to wake
  • Excessive barking
  • No response to doorbells, loud noises
  • No response when called by name
  • No response when you enter the room

Treatment Options For Deafness

Your vet may recommend diagnostic tests depending on your dog’s health, current symptoms, and medical history.

Depending on the underlying cause, vets may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

  • Geroatric deafness and Congenital deafness are not treatable
  • Hearing aids and cochlear implants
  • Acquired deafness: Pluck overgrown ear hair, remove a foreign object in-ear or wax out of the ears
  • Infection: Oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatories
  • Tumors: Surgery

Home Remedies For Deafness

Discuss with a veterinarian any home care specific to your dog’s situation.

This may include dietary changes, alternative therapies, further medications to administer, and future veterinary visits for treatments as needed.

Prevention Of Deafness

There is no way to prevent hearing loss or any other hearing disorder. Inculcating a healthy routine from the start is a good way of prevention.

Currently, DNA testing to find out those genes that are responsible (piebald, merle genes) for the cause of deafness is not available.

BAER testing (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response): Also called auditory brainstem evoked response (ABR), this testing is usually performed in a referral setting whereas behavioral testing is generally performed in the clinical setting. Reaction to tone bursts or clicks in the ear is measured with the timing of the electrical waves from the brainstem. The responses produced by an audible stimulus outside the animal’s visual field are observed and analyzed.

Affected Breeds Of Deafness

Australian Shepherd, Boston Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier, Maltese, Toy Poodle, Miniature Poodle, West Highland White Terrier

Additional Facts For Deafness

1. Causes:

Causes of Congenital Deafness

  • Cochleosaccular deafness: White pigmentation and merle coats have been associated with deafness.
  • Neuroepithelial deafness: Deafness due to Birth defects of the ear or nervous system.

Causes of Acquired Deafness

  • Geriatric deafness: Old age.
  • Foreign object blockage (such as inner ear hairs, grass, or wax buildup,)
  • Repeated exposure to loud noises (gunfire, stereo equipment)
  • Trauma (includes injury to the eardrum or ear canal, injury to skull or brain)
  • Repeated or sudden exposure to loud noises
  • Inflammation (Eustachian tube swelling)
  • Infection (inner, middle, or outer ear bacterial or yeast infection)
  • Tumors
  • Exposure to heavy metals (such as mercury, lead, or arsenic)
  • Drug toxicity (aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, cisplatin, chlorhexidine, erythromycin, ethanol, ethanol chlorhexidine, furosemide, etc)

2. Types of Deafness in dogs:

  • Congenital: This is due to genetic inheritance or birth defects.
  • Acquired: Dog is born with normal hearing and develops deafness through geriatric nerve degeneration, blockage of the ear canal, trauma, and infection.

Acquired deafness is of two types:

  • Conductive: Obstruction or reduction of sound from the outside to the cochlea.
  • Sensorineural: This results from the loss of cochlear nerve receptors as they cannot pass on sound signals to the brain.

3. Mortality:

Deafness is not usually associated with mortality, however, hearing loss can lead to Behavior problems, which in turn decrease their health as well as their quality of life and may lead to euthanasia or relinquishment.

4. Diagnosis:

  • BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) testing
  • Otoscopic examination
  • Radiographs

5. Prognosis:

Prognosis depends on the diagnosis and appropriate treatment/ behavior/environmental modification.

When To See A Vet

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • No response when called by name
  • No response to clapping
  • No response to other dogs barking
  • Difficult to wake

Food Suggestions For Deafness

  • Fresh, lean protein (Lean ground beef, White-meat skinless chicken, or turkey).
  • Low-carb dog food/peas, sweet potatoes, squash, yams, pumpkin, etc.
  • Antioxidants: Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Cranberries, Red cabbage, Cooked yellow squash, steamed broccoli, spinach, kale, and green beans.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Mackerel, Salmon, cod, herring, oysters, Sardines, Anchovies, etc.
  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids: Brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, kale, pineapple, papaya, strawberries, etc.
  • Iron: Lean meats like ground beef and lamb, fish, such as sardines and salmon, pumpkin, carrots, and leafy greens.


The prognosis for dogs with hearing loss depends upon the specific diagnosis, as well as the dog's health condition at the time of diagnosis.

If the underlying cause of hearing loss is diagnosed early and the dog is in relatively good health, effective treatment for the underlying illness will result in a good prognosis.

Sadly, certain hearing loss causes that indicate your dog is suffering from a very serious or life-threatening condition (such as cancer, toxins, or severe trauma) have a less favorable prognosis but still, it is manageable

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