Dogs may have partial or total deafness affecting one or both ears. The two main causes are birth defects (deafness at birth) and aging. A test makes it possible to know with certainty if an animal hears well or not of the two ears.
What are the causes of deafness in dogs?
Dogs May Have Hearing Loss partial or total. Depending on whether there is one or both ears affected, we speak of deafness unilateral or bilateral.
The two main causes of deafness in dogs are:
- birth defects : a dog can be deaf from birth, some birth defects are responsible for deafness in animals (the main cause being a developmental abnormality in the inner ear). Many breeds are predisposed to deafness: Dalmatian, Irish Setter, Australian Shepherd, Bull terrier … Among the breeds at risk, dogs with a white coat and blue eyes are most at risk of deafness. Most often, congenital deafness affects only one ear.
- aging : Elderly dogs often have partial or total hearing loss associated with old age. This is called the presbycusis.
Other causes may be responsible for deafness in dogs: ear infections, toxics, trauma, infectious agents, endocrine disease (hypothyroidism), tumor, etc.
A deaf dog can live normally even if some precautions are to be taken. First of all, it is necessary to adapt the education and give priority to gestures for learning the different “orders” (lying, sitting, etc.). Exits should only be on a leash to avoid accidents (dogs cannot hear arriving cars, recall is also impossible). Finally, we must be vigilant with children who can be a bit abrupt and surprise animals.
Hearing impairments are not easy to spot, but it is important to spot them as this has consequences for the animal’s life.
A simple method of knowing if a dog is hearing is to make a loud noise when awake. Normally the dog’s ears turn towards the source of the noise. If the ears are stationary in the event of a sudden loud noise, then a hearing impairment may be suspected.
Adult dogs must also know their names and come when you call them. If they never respond to their name, then we can again suspect a deafness problem.
A deaf dog can also sleep more (for lack of external stimulation), play little or bark very loudly … It can also be surprised and therefore react aggressively. You have to be very careful when deaf dogs live with children.
To know for certain if a dog is deaf, a consultation with a veterinarian is recommended. A full clinical examination and additional examinations will be performed to assess the hearing of the animal.
An examination makes it possible to know with certainty if a dog hears or not. This test is in particular very useful for highlighting cases of unilateral deafness which often go unnoticed. This is the exam ABR : this corresponds to the analysis of the auditory potentials evoked from the brainstem. This test is done in a few minutes, it does not require that the dogs be anesthetized. It can be performed from the age of 5 to 6 weeks.
Testing puppies of high-risk breeds can highlight a possible unilateral or bilateral deafness. It is advisable not to breed these dogs since hereditary transmission is suspected.