This type of hearing loss is often termed “sensorineural hearing loss”. It results from missing or damaged sensory cells (hair cells) in the cochlea of the inner ear and is usually permanent. Damage to the auditory nerve in the brain can cause neural hearing loss, which is also usually permanent. Hearing tests using an electroencephalogram (EEG) are often recommended, along with a brain stem auditory evoked response (BAER) test. I typically notice age-related hearing deficits or total deafness beginning late in a dog’s life, typically at 12 to 15 years of age. I usually find the hearing loss is not complete, as the dog may hear certain high-pitched such as a doorbell ringing or a fork hitting a metal food bowl.
When people find out their dogs have hearing loss, they often feel concerned. But in most cases, the cause is either treatable or simply a normal part of aging, and not harmful or fatal to the dog. This article will discuss hearing loss and deafness in dogs, along with treatments to try with the guidance of your veterinarian.
Usually, dogs with organic brain disease have other clinical signs besides hearing loss, such as seizures, depression, or changes in cranial nerve function (blindness, paralysis, circling, etc.). These dogs must have advanced imaging done (CT, MRI, etc.) in order to properly diagnose and treat the underlying problem. These causes of hearing loss are serious and expensive to diagnose and treat — but fortunately, they are very rare.
Before diagnosing “old age” as the cause of a hearing deficit, it is important to rule out the other causes of hearing loss discussed below. These other issues are usually treatable if they’re diagnosed early and treated properly.
Again, I must stress the importance of a thorough examination and lab testing to look for underlying causes of any disease or symptoms, including deafness, so those causes can be treated.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Dogs
Symptoms of deafness include little or no response to sounds like:
Dogs with hearing loss may also be:
Recovery of Hearing Loss in Dogs
Deaf animals (whether the hearing loss is permanent or temporary) require special care. It is essential to carefully monitor deaf pets to avoid injury. Never let deaf pets outdoors without a fence or leash.
Deafness in Dogs
Subtle changes in your dog’s hearing can go unnoticed because dogs compensate for their hearing loss. As a whole, they tend to use their other senses to offset their loss of hearing. Pet owners are often surprised to find out that their dog has lost their hearing. This is typically due to their dog masking the hearing loss through knowing their environment. However, we want to encourage you to protect your dog’s hearing – once it’s lost, it’s gone forever. Here are three surprising ways that dogs can lose their hearing.