Any dog has the ability to be born with or become deaf throughout his or her lifetime. Similarly to people, there are a handful of factors that can lead to canine deafness, but some breeds are definitely more susceptible than others. For example, Los Banos Veterinary Clinic recommends that pet owners with Dalmatians, Cocker Spaniels and Australian Shepherds consider hearing testing when puppies are only a few weeks old.
While some puppies are born deaf (and their owners will quickly adapt), sometimes our senior dogs can become deaf over time. If your pet no longer turns his or her head when their name is called or comes running when they hear their favorite toy, perhaps their sense of hearing is dulling.
How can pet owners determine if their pets are deaf?
If your pet is no longer reacting to typical noises or coming when called, you may want to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. The first thing your veterinarian will likely do is conduct an exam of the ears. Sometimes ear infections can cause temporary deafening, so that will need to be ruled out. If your vet can’t locate a cause for deafness in the exam, a BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test may be the next step. This test allows your vet to read results of stimuli directed to your dog’s ears and their responses to different levels of noise. These tests are harmless and very accurate.
Can deafness be prevented or reversed?
Temporary deafness, such as the kind caused by an ear infection, can lead to recovery of hearing if the infection is treated. Unfortunately, just like in humans, long-term hearing impairments are permanent at this time. Rest assured that deaf dogs live happy and full lives! Your vet can provide some tips for easing the transition.
Actively monitoring for ear infections, and seeking treatment when discovered, can greatly help in preventing deafness down the road. Another way to help ensure your pet can hear is to do research on your breeder if you are a pet owner and to practice responsible breeding if you are a breeder. Deaf dogs should not be bred to help stop dogs from carrying on the traits.
If your pet starts to show signs of deafness, please let us know! The Los Banos Veterinary Clinic staff is well versed with diagnosing deafness in pets and can help provide some tips for your pet and for you!