Deafness in Dogs
Definition of Deafness
Deafness is the complete or partial lack of hearing. It can be hard to assess in dogs, because they can’t discuss their hearing difficulties. Deafness in one ear is especially difficult to detect. Anything that injures the ear canal, ruptures the ear drum or interferes with the tiny bones inside the ear can contribute to deafness, including infections, tumors, waxy build-up, repeated exposure to gunfire and nerve degeneration associated with old age. Some dogs are born deaf; this can be associated with whiteness of the head and ears. Normal puppies respond to sound by about 2 weeks of age. Attentive breeders recognize hearing problems well before a puppy is ready to leave for its new home. Owners may not notice deafness until their dog stops following commands or responding to familiar sounds, such as doorbells. Fortunately, most dogs adapt to relying on other senses in place of one they lose or never had.
For a dog to hear, the cells and nerves that transmit sound, as well as the areas of the brain that interpret and respond to sound, must be intact and fully functional. There are a number of causes of deafness in dogs. Conduction deafness is caused by diseases that destroy the outer ear canal, rupture the ear drum (tympanum) or interfere with the function of the tiny bones (ossicles) in the middle ear. These include
Dogs are gifted with the ability to easily rely on their other senses to make up for one that they have either lost or never had in the first place. Dogs with total congenital deafness are born deaf and never experience the sensation of sound. They do not know that they are deaf or that they are any different from other dogs. Most astute and reputable breeders will recognize a deaf puppy well before the
Deafness in dogs can be one of two kinds: conductive or sensorineural.If sounds cannot travel properly in the external or middle ear (i.e. sound does not conduct properly), the problem is said to be conductive. This can occur when there is an ear infection, a ruptured eardrum, blocked ear canals or fluid in the ear. Usually in these patients, hearing loss is only partial and treatment involves medical or surgical correction. If this is the
Since dogs cannot tell us what they hear, or whether they hear at all, the best criterion for confirming deafness is careful assessment of the dog’s conscious response to sound. A dog’s reaction to sound must be differentiated from its reaction to smells, sight and touch. There are some classic signs that a veterinarian will look for if an owner suspects that his dog might be losing its hearing. The veterinarian will assess the dog’s
There really is no way to “treat” deafness in dogs. The therapeutic goals are basically to prevent deafness from developing in the first place (don’t breed dogs with hereditary deafness; try to prevent acquired deafness) and to improve an affected dog’s hearing ability if at all possible. The best way to deal with canine deafness is with kind, careful and consistent training, management and care of affected animals.There is no realistic treatment for congenital deafness