Dogs. They’re just like us. They’re gaga for treats. They love it when the mail comes. And they’re always down for some playtime in the park. But did you know? Man’s best friend has something else in common with us humans: hearing loss.
HOW COMMON IS HEARING LOSS IN DOGS?
With an estimated 20 percent of Americans 12 and older, nearly a quarter of adult Canadians, and some 466 million children and adults around the world living with some level of hearing loss, it’s no leap to conclude that this condition is pretty common on a global scale.
For dogs, whose hearing can be exponentially better than humans (especially with higher-pitched sounds), hearing-loss statistics can vary across breeds. Overall, however, some “5 to 10 percent of dogs in the United States,” for example, have hearing impairment, per the American Kennel Club (AKC).
WHAT’S THE CAUSE OF CANINE HEARING LOSS?
As with people, hearing loss in dogs can occur through genetic, environmental, or other factors and can be temporary or permanent, gradual or sudden. And — just as in humans — aging can play a prominent role. “Many senior dogs suffer from hearing impairment as they age and become less responsive to you and the world around them,” notes the AKC on its website.
A few other potential causes:
- Ear infection
- Ear-canal blockage
- Head injury
- Excess noise
- Tumors or other abnormal growths
- Cognitive disorder
- Glandular disorder
- Medications or other chemicals toxic to the ear
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Like us, canine pets can benefit from prevention and other important steps when it comes to maintaining good hearing health. Certain breeds may be more vulnerable to hearing loss than others, but some key actions could make a difference in helping keep dogs’ hearing in the best shape possible:
- Prevention. From safe ear cleanings and protection from excessively loud sounds to regular vet visits and avoidance of ototoxic chemicals, preventive steps do matter. Sometimes hearing loss can’t be prevented — a congenital defect, for example, or an ototoxic drug needed to address another serious issue — but close coordination with your veterinarian can potentially mitigate it.
- Recognition. Recognizing hearing loss can prove critical to timely intervention. Failure to respond to their name, oral commands, the doorbell, a favorite squeaky toy, an approaching animal, or other typical stimuli is a potential sign of hearing impairment. Behavioral changes such as reduced activity level could also indicate it. To help confirm the condition, seek a veterinary evaluation.
- Treatment. A dog’s hearing loss can be permanent in some instances. In others, however, treatment such as oral or topical solutions, removal of earwax buildup or a foreign object, or other approaches may reverse or help manage the problem. A full exam to evaluate and diagnose the hearing loss and identify the underlying cause will help determine appropriate treatment.
- Accommodation. Helping doggos navigate hearing loss without letting it slow them down can help them live their best lives. They can wear hearing aids — just like us humans! — but many dogs don’t necessarily want to. Other approaches such as teaching them to respond to hand commands and devices such as vibrating collars can be effective. Be sure to consult an obedience-training expert.
Remember, hearing loss affects humans and our canine buddies, but regular exams offer the op-paw-tunity to catch potential problems early and maintain optimal hearing wellness. So don’t wait — call us to schedule your own regular hearing checkup today!
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. One in Five Americans Has Hearing Loss. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/one_in_five_americans_has_hearing_loss. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- Canadian Hearing Society. Facts and Figures. https://www.chs.ca/facts-and-figures. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- World Health Organization. Deafness and Hearing Loss. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- American Kennel Club (AKC). Dogs Don’t Have a Sixth Sense, They Just Have Incredible Hearing. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/sounds-only-dogs-can-hear/. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- AKC. What You Should Know About Canine Deafness. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/what-you-should-know-about-canine-deafness/. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- AKC. Hearing Loss in Senior Dogs — Symptoms and Management. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/hearing-loss-senior-dogs-symptoms-management/.
- The Honest Kitchen. How to Assess Dog Hearing and How to Prevent Hearing Loss. https://www.thehonestkitchen.com/blog/assess-dog-hearing-prevent-hearing-loss/. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- Sayers Animal Hospital. 5 Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing. https://www.sayersanimalhospital.net/customer-resources/5-ways-to-protect-your-dogs-hearing/. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- Animal Wellness Magazine. 5 Causes of Hearing Loss in Dogs. https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/hearing-loss-dogs/. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- The Drake Center. Deaf Dogs: Living With Hearing Loss. https://www.thedrakecenter.com/services/dogs/blog/deaf-dogs-living-hearing-loss. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.
- Hearing Health & Technology Matters. Aural Rehabilitation for Dogs…. Robert M. Traynor, Ed.D. https://hearinghealthmatters.org/hearinginternational/2012/aural-rehabilitation-for-dogs/. Accessed Feb. 4, 2019.