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What are Hearing Loss?

Deafness refers to temporary, partial or total loss of hearing in one or both ears. Deafness may be a result of heredity, birth defects, infection, trauma, blocked ear canal or old age. Certain breeds of dogs and white or merle-coated animals are predisposed to congenital deafness. Congenital and geriatric deafness and deafness due to trauma is often permanent and not treatable. Acquired deafness (due to infection or blocked ear canal) can often be temporary and treatable.

Deafness in dogs can either be a temporary partial or total loss of hearing—due to a wax build-up in the ear canals—or permanent hearing loss due to a host of causes such as severe, untreated ear infections, congenital defects, old age and injuries. One or both ears may be affected. A veterinarian can initially examine your dog’s ear canal for wax accumulation, infections, inflammation, injury or foreign object.

Hearing Loss Average Cost

From 129 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$350

Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Dogs

Symptoms of deafness include little or no response to sound:

  • No response to squeaking toys
  • No response to clapping
  • No response to snapping fingers behind the head
  • No response to doorbells, loud noises
  • No response when called by name
  • No response when you enter the room
  • No response to other dogs barking
  • Difficult to wake
  • Startled when woken
  • Excessive barking
Types

Deafness is either congenital or acquired:

  • Congenital: Animal is born deaf due to genetic inheritance or birth defects in the development of the ear or nervous system involved with hearing.
  • Acquired: Animal is born with normal hearing and develops deafness through trauma, infection, blockage of the ear canal or geriatric nerve degeneration.

Deafness may be conductive or sensorineural:

  • Conductive: Sounds cannot be conducted from the outside to the nerves in the inner ear.
  • Sensorineural: Nerve receptors cannot transmit sound signals from the ear to the brain or brain centers responsible for hearing cannot interpret the auditory data.
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Causes of Hearing Loss in Dogs

Causes of Congenital Deafness

  • Birth defects of the ear or nervous system may result from genetic inheritance or abnormal anatomic development.
  • Certain dog breeds and coat colors carry a high degree of inherited deafness. White head and ears and merle coats have been associated with deafness.

Causes of Acquired Deafness

  • Old age (natural geriatric nerve degeneration)
  • Repeated exposure to loud noises (gunfire, stereo equipment)
  • Foreign object blockage (includes wax buildup, inner ear hairs, grass, other objects, fluids)
  • Injury (includes trauma to the ear canal or ear drum, head trauma causing injury to brain)
  • Infection (outer, middle or inner ear bacterial or yeast infection)
  • Inflammation (swelling of the ear or Eustachian tube)
  • Tumors (of the ear or Eustachian tube)
  • Heavy metals (exposure to mercury, arsenic or lead can lead to hearing loss)
  • Drug toxicity (certain drugs can lead to deafness if used incorrectly or as a side effect including furosemide, cisplatin, chlorhexidine, ethanol, aminoglycosides, erythromycin, chloramphenicol, ethanol chlorhexidine, furosemide, cisplatin)
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Diagnosis of Hearing Loss in Dogs

If you suspect your dog is experiencing hearing loss, you can test your dog’s hearing by clapping loudly or rattling a can of coins and noting his response. Partial hearing loss or deafness in one ear only may be can be difficult to identify. Try testing with softer sounds like snapping your fingers close to one ear or the other to look for a response.

At the veterinary clinic, the veterinarian will conduct a history and physical examination to measure hearing loss and determine any possible causes. Hearing tests may be used to diagnose hearing loss. Examination of the ear canal will detect wax accumulation, hair overgrowth, any foreign object blockage, infection, inflammation or injury and ear drum state.

If the veterinarian suspects an ear infection, ear swabs and cultures may be done to diagnose the infecting agent and determine the proper mode of treatment. In some instances, a brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test will be conducted to measure the brain’s response to auditory stimuli. Radiographs may be used to determine possible causes of deafness.

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Treatment of Hearing Loss in Dogs

Permanent Deafness

Congenital deafness and geriatric deafness are not normally treatable. Surgery may attempt to correct hearing if the defect is in the middle or outer ear or involves inner ear inflammation, however most congenital defects involve delicate inner ear mechanics or nervous system defects. Drug toxicity, heavy metal exposure and exposure to loud noises often cause permanent damage.

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are becoming available for dogs, however they are currently still costly and somewhat impractical. The devices work similar to human devices, but animals do not respond well to the device’s presence on the body and may not tolerate it.

Foreign Body Removal

In the case of a foreign body, treatment may involve removing the blocking object, cleaning wax out of the ears, or plucking overgrown ear hair. The veterinarian will examine the ear canal for injury and normally do a thorough ear cleaning.

Treatment for Infection

The veterinarian may prescribe an ear flush and topical ointment to be used daily for 2-3 weeks along with oral antibiotics depending on severity. Pain and irritation respond well to topical provided by the veterinarian and can make the pet more comfortable quickly. A longer acting wax-based medication may be inserted into the ears at the clinic if ear washing daily at home is not feasible.

Tumors of the Ear

Surgery may be performed on tumors growing in the ear to free up the ear canal for sound conduction.

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Recovery of Hearing Loss in Dogs

In cases of medical or surgical treatments, weekly follow up appointments will monitor healing and recovery. Ear infections should clear within 2-3 weeks of treatment depending on severity.

Deaf animals (whether the hearing loss is permanent or temporary) require special care. It is important to monitor pets as much as possible to avoid possible injury. Deaf pets should never be let outdoors without a fence or leash. They cannot hear when you call and cannot hear approaching vehicles.

Train your pet to understand hand signals rather than using verbal commands. Instead of calling, stomp on the ground to get a hearing impaired pet’s attention. Prevent startling the pet by letting him know when you’re around with a pat on the head. Deaf pets are prone getting lost so microchipping and collars with ID tags that identify the pet as deaf and provide contact information are a good idea.

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Hearing Loss Average Cost

From 129 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$350

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Hearing Loss Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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German Shepherd

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

He is unable to hear

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is not uncommon in older animals for them to have some hearing loss, and there is often nothing that can be done about that. Sometimes, however, there may be an ear infection or a problem in the ear canal that can be resolved to help with hearing. If you have noticed a sudden loss in hearing, it would be a good idea to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see if there is anything going on with the ear canal that can be resolved. I hope that everything goes well for your pet.

Sept. 30, 2020

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Belgian Malinois

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Problem

How can I help my dog regain hearing naturally after a range day? He can hear the squeaky toy if it's near him... I'm trying to see if I need to take him to the vet soon or his hearing will just get better in time?

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. Unfortunately, without being able to examine him, I don't have any way of knowing if his hearing will return or if it has been permanently damaged. Time will tell if he is able to hear things again once his ears have had a chance to recover.

Oct. 8, 2020

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Griffichon

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Eleven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Won’T Jump

Jojo saw vet saturday and for hematoma on ear. Has been acting like he doesn’t feel well. Yesterday it was like he is losing hearing. Tonight, he won’t jump up in bed like normal. He puts paws up but doesn’t jump

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I did not think that those are normal things to have happened after a hematoma, and I think something else might be going on with Jojo. It would probably be a good idea to have a recheck with your veterinarian, to see what else might be going on and if you need any other medications. I hope that everything goes well for him.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Coonhound mix

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Can’T Seem To Hear Me/Ear Irritation

Hi there - my 13yo dog is suddenly unresponsive to noise. He’s incredibly well behaved and responsive to sound. He has a history of ear infection. We were u it’s in the south where humidity was high and he had issues. We lived in Colorado for years and he never had any issues. Right now we live in Chicago and the humidity is extremely high. Is there a possibility he has a blockage and it can? Possibly reverseable? Thank you in advance;) Kev n’ Q

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he has a history of ear infections, that can cause scarring of the inner ear and lead to hearing loss, and if he is currently having an infection, it may be affecting him so that he can't hear but with treatment may regain some of that hearing. If you see a veterinarian, they can assess his tympanic membrane and advise on any medications that might help. I hope that all goes well for him!

July 14, 2020

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Gigi

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Boston Terrier

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8 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

My almost 8 yo. Boston Terrier, with perfect hearing, just went to the vet 3 weeks ago because of head shaking. She was diagnosed with a minor ear infection and given gentizol. After 7 days on it, she is completely deaf. I took her back to the vet where they cheerfully explained "she's just completely deaf. No connection to the medicine. Just coincidence!" I'm furious. Is there anything I can do to help her - or to keep this from happening to other dogs?

Aug. 15, 2018

Gigi's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Some dogs do have a local reaction to ear medication, and nobody can predict that reaction, unfortunately. Her hearing may improve over time now that the medication is stopped.

Aug. 15, 2018

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pocahantis

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chewinie

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14 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hard Of Hearing

my 14 year old cheweinie's hearing started deteriorating a year ago. She hears some pitches better that other. I thought about getting a dog whistle, so we could alert her when we are behind her etc, and so she could come when we call, etc. Will she be able to hear a dog whistle? I guess it's a stupid question! We will know after we get the whistle and see if she responds to it!! But, after reading many questions/entries etc. on your website, I never saw any mention of a dog whistle to help with deafness. No, I take that back- I saw one mention, but it was for a dog who was deaf in very early life. So--- I am both asking, and putting forth the possiblity of dog whistles being a help to deaf- especially deafness in older dogs- being a help. Thank you.

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Maggie

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Jack Russell/Poodle

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

We have a 12yr old Jack Russell/poodle. We took her to the vet for her annual checkup and she had a bit of yeast infection. We were given MotoZol and have given it to her twice now. Yesterday she could hear us and today she can't. I looked up the medication and one of the side effects is hearing loss. Is this possible? Why would medications to make her ear better make her lose her hearing? Makes no sense. Could it be temporary and what can we do to help her? It's so sad :(

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Bruno

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Pit bull

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Deafness

We have a 10yr old pitbull name Bruno that has had medical issues since early on in life. When he was 7 he developed diabetes, but wasn't diagnosed early enough and as a result he lost his eyesight. Later on he also developed Cushing's disease. All of these issues have been addressed with our vet and the appropriate medicines prescribed. recently we took him to see the vet for a large ear hematoma, we suspect he banged it since he cannot see. Anyway the vet recommended surgery to drain it. We also requested to remove a fatty cyst on his chest while he was under. When we went to pick him up after the procedure, the vet prescribed us Metetavet drop for a yeast infection in his ears. 8 drops per ear once a day for 14 days. I placed the drops as directed and by the second day of treatment we noticed that he was not responding to verbal commands. We tried whistles to no avail... We immediately took him back to the vet as we were very concerned, they did a saline flush and told us to wait and see. It's almost a week now and no sign of improvements. My wife and I are heart broken that our dog with sight impairments is now also deaf with the possibility of it never to return. Has anyone also experienced this situation with their pets?

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Digby

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Wire Fox Terrier

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

My dog is going to be 12 in a month. He had a little hearing loss over the past year and when we took him to the vet for a skin condition his hearing got worse within three weeks. He was prescribed antibiotics, antifungals and Apequel for his chronic itchiness. When I realized his hearing had worsened I stopped these drugs, all of them. Now I have him on Quercetin plus washing him every other day with T-Sal shampoo mixed with sulfur and witch hazel. That helps his itch almost as much as the Apequel. I just wish I knew how delicate my dog's hearing was, and wish I knew how to best preserve the hearing he has left.

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Mr Bojangles

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Shih Tzu

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

My 12 year old Shih Tzu recently tumbled down a flight of stairs (12 total) Amazingly enough he didn't have any apparent physical injuries. He is walking fine, still eats and eliminates as usual. However he appears to be deaf now. He doesn't come when we call him, doesn't respond to the door bell ringing. My husband tried tapping a fork on a plate which he did hear. His ears look normal inside-no excessive hair, no redness, no odor, no drainage. Just wondering if his fall could have caused his hearing problem or if it is a coincidence? Is there anything we can do to help him now? Planning on taking him to the veterinarian this week.

Hearing Loss Average Cost

From 129 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$350

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