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.
First – What Dogs Hear
- Consider that the higher the frequency of a sound, the higher its pitch. Dogs can hear very high pitches.
- Humans are able to hear frequencies of about 20 Hz (Hertz) to 20,000 Hz
- Dogs hear sounds with frequencies of approximately 40 Hz to 46,000 Hz, meaning they hear ultrasonic sounds (sounds humans cannot hear).
- Dogs have a lot of ear muscles to locate the source of a sound.
- Read more here.
Three Surprising Ways That Dogs Can Lose Their Hearing
Otitis – Ear Infections
Ear infections, particularly the inner ear (otitis interna) can produce transient or permanent deafness. While the middle ear, otitis media, can experience sound blocking due to an infection, your dog’s body should eventually clear this out with hearing improvement. However, inner ear infection needs to be treated swiftly and effectively, because when left unattended it is likely to produce permanent deafness.
While rare, dogs can lose their hearing due to general anesthesia. It’s been reported that animals have woken deaf in both ears following ear cleaning or teeth cleaning. It’s believed that their bodies move blood away from the cochlea during anesthesia to protect other critical organs. Another thought is that the pressure, or jaw position, may compress the arterial supply to the cochlea. Talk with your veterinarian to understand if they’ve had this type of experience with any of the animals in their care.
This is a scientific way of saying a pharmacological adverse reaction that affects the inner ear or auditory nerve. Basically, dogs can lose their hearing due to medicine and the resulting cochlear or vestibular dysfunction. Before giving your dog any medication, discuss the side-affects with your vet. The most common medicines that can cause canine hearing loss includes:
- Garamycin: an antibiotic used to treat several types of bacterial infections. This drug is used in dogs and cats to treat septicemia and infections of bone, joints, respiratory tract, skin, soft tissue, urinary tract, and uterus. Also, this drug is often given as a topical application for ear infections.
- Cisplatin: a chemotherapy medication used to treat a number of cancers (testicular, ovarian, cervical, breast, bladder, head and neck, esophageal, lung, mesothelioma, brain tumors, and neuroblastoma. This drug is given by injection into your dog’s veins.
- Diuretics: often given to your dog for the treatment of high blood pressure and edema.
Recalling how sensitive a dog’s hearing is, it depends on the loudness delivered either suddenly or over a period of time, a dog may experience temporary or permanent hearing loss. Dogs have a tiny muscle in the middle ear that reflexes to reduce sound transmission. However, percussive noises happen too suddenly for this muscle to react. Gunfire and explosions, like fireworks, car backfires, slamming doors, lawn equipment, etc., are major contributors to noise trauma. A simple way to think of it: if a human’s ears ring, the noise is causing trauma to the dog’s hearing. Protect your dog’s hearing as it is one of their most valuable assets that they use daily.
How To Tell If Your Dog May Be Losing Their Hearing
We explained earlier that dogs tend to hide their hearing loss. Here are some simple ways that you can tell if your dog is losing or has lost their hearing.
- Not coming to you when you call them.
- Disobedience when not normal.
- Responding in a startled manner even when not a surprise.
- Increased barking when normally not a barker.
- Apathy or lack of interest.