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Hearing Loss in Dogs

The problem of hearing loss in dogs is discussed in the following article. Acute hearing loss and other problems could be dealt with by learning to communicate with these dogs effectively.
DogAppy Staff
Dogs that are affected by hearing loss are similar to ordinary dogs in their behavior and habits, except for the fact that they hear only loud noises and this might lead to problems in dealing with them in day-to-day life. The main problem that owners of such dogs face is communicating with them effectively. By making use of sign language and having a willingness to take proper care, it is possible to have meaningful interactions with them.

Causes

Deafness in dogs could either be congenital or acquired. Age-related hearing loss is the common form of deafness. The cause of congenital deafness is the presence of a defective gene that leads to a non-functional or malformed ear. Problem of acquired deafness on the other hand, could result from many different reasons such as accumulation of dirt, wax, hair, etc. in the ear; ear canal swelling or inflammation; ruptured or torn eardrum; internal or middle ear infection, head trauma, loud noise; mites; old age; drugs, etc. A sudden loss of hearing could be attributed to injuries or infection. Temporary loss resulting from accumulation of wax, hair, or dirt can be dealt with by keeping the ear clean.

Signs

The following signs can help determine whether a dog has the problem of deafness. The puppies, while still in a litter, show signs like biting too hard. It is because they cannot sense the yelping of other dogs from pain. The dog may tilt its head sideways due to the irritation resulting from painful or itchy ears. A smelly discharge from the ears is also one of the signs that should be considered while determining whether a dog is deaf. Many times, puppies that are weaned do not wake up at their regular feeding times because of deafness. It is only when they sense the vibrations or are bumped by their littermates that they wake up. Deaf dogs do not respond to calls if they are facing away from the caller. Sometimes, it is difficult to determine whether a puppy from the litter is deaf. This is because the affected puppy observes its littermates and imitates them, making it difficult for owners to decide whether it is deaf or not. One can thus test such dogs separately by calling them while they are facing away.

Keeping the Dog Safe

It is necessary to keep the dogs safe while they are outdoors. Communicating with them properly is also important. Children should be taught how to interact with deaf dogs. The 'American Sign Language' could be used for communicating. No matter which language or signals one uses for interaction, consistency needs to be maintained while doing so. This kind of training would definitely help in communicating with them. Keeping them clean is also an important part of dog care. An ear mite infection is also a common health problem that should be taken care of.

BAER Test

The BAER Test is used to determine deafness in dogs. The acronym BAER stands for 'Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response'. In this test, the electrical activity that takes place in the brain in response to the stimulation provided by sound is recorded. In this test, earphones are used to direct a clicking sound in the ears of the dog, after which the brain activity is studied. The test which lasts for not more than 10-15 minutes can be conducted on any dog above six weeks of age.

The problem of hearing loss in dogs can be detected by the BAER test. One can also determine these problems by observing the behavior of the dog. If one pays proper attention, life will be much better for them as well as the dog.