Is your dog losing his hearing?

April 13, 2012

Owner: Hey Rover want to take a walk?
Rover: Puke? I did not puke. It was the darned cat.
Owner: Come on Rover – get your leash.
Rover: Yes! I really wish you would get rid of the snooty cat.

Alas, the dog is losing his hearing!

Dogs are noted for their highly sensitive senses. A dog’s eyesight and scenting abilities are far superior to what humans have. The ultrasensitive ears are one of the reasons why these four legged friends make dependable watchdogs. However, just like human beings, dogs too have the possibility of losing these very important senses. For various reasons, dogs can lose the eyesight. The heightened scenting ability can wane and hearing can be gradually lost. An owner would be surprised if the dog failed to obey commands. The snarling and the snapping when the pet is approached from behind can be attributed to the development of negative behavior when in fact the changes in the dog’s behavior are signs of hearing loss. Slight hearing loss will progress until the dog becomes totally deaf. Gradual loss of hearing resulting from health concerns could have been prevented from progressing to an advanced degree if only treatment was administered early on. Unfortunately, a dog cannot tell the owner that he is losing his hearing. Dogs have the tendency to compensate for any abnormality. If hearing is lost, the scenting ability and the eyesight are sharpened even more. Thus it would be difficult for an owner to know the condition of the pet.

Some dogs are born deaf. Knowing if a puppy is deaf can be quite difficult given that for the first 10 days, the puppies will not respond to sound. Congenital deafness is common in Dalmatians and in dogs with predominantly white coats. Excessive build up of earwax is a simple and an easy to resolve reason why the dog is losing his hearing. Temporary hearing loss due to earwax build up can be resolved with regular ear cleaning. Parasite infestation that causes severe damage to the inner ear and infection is another possible cause why the dog would lose his hearing. Dogs with floppy ears are prone to infection because moisture is not totally dried up making the inner ear an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Infection that causes the inflammation of the ear canal can rupture the ear drum. Hearing loss can also be attributed to head traumas.

Gradual hearing loss is common in aging dogs. Aging humans are troubled with fading memory and fading eyesight. Aware that bones have become brittle, senior citizens would take great care with their movements. Grandparents would start to show hearing disabilities. Similar to aging humans, aging dogs would suffer from the signs of aging. It is common for dogs aging 10 years to start to lose their hearing. Senile deafness is usually not complete loss of hearing. The loudness as well as the range of sound the aging dog can hear is gradually reduced. Aging dogs though can still hear high pitched sounds. Because other senses are sharpened due to the hearing loss, the dog can better sense vibrations.

Dogs would manifest a different behavior when the hearing begins to fail. Life can be difficult for a hard of hearing dog. However, this does not mean that the pet cannot live a full life. The safety and the quality of life the pet would have would largely depend on the care provided by the owners. New methods of communicating with the pet have to be developed. As calling the pet’s name would be ineffective in getting the dog’s attention, the pet has to be trained to respond to sign language. A dog that has totally gone deaf may be less active but for sure the affection and the loyalty the pet will give to the family will remain the same.

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