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Deafness in dogs

When we talk about deafness in dogs, we need to compare them with their owners. Just like people, dogs can suffer from deafness from the day they are born, due to some fetal development problems, or develop this problem later in life. If they are not born deaf, dogs can lose their sense of hearing due to a side-effect of certain medications. Also, infections can cause this problem and so can old age.

A Breed Problem?

Some breeds of dogs are more prone to deafness than others. For example, studies have shown that among 5000 dalmatians, 22% are likely to be unilaterally deaf, while 8% may be bilaterally deaf. Bull terriers are also prone to deafness, especially the white ones.

Reasons behind Hearing Loss in Dogs

If a previously healthy dog becomes deaf, there is a wide range of possibilities to be considered responsible. Many times, deafness does not take place overnight. Rather, the dog loses its hearing gradually, always compensating for the loss, without letting the owner know or notice anything about it until it is too late.

Also, quite often, owners do not realize that their dog is deaf in one ear ever since the day of its birth, losing hearing completely once the other ear gets affected as well.

In cases of ear inflammation or infections, once these are gone, there is usually a mass left inside the ear of your dog, blocking sounds, making it deaf. Then, you need to take the dog to a vet. After examining your pet, he/she will diagnose the problem, remove the obstruction and help your dog to hear again. The dog's body can remove this material on its own. However, this natural process takes a lot longer to get completed.

As for medications, a lot of them can trigger deafness in dogs by destroying the hair cells in their ears. This can affect the balance of your canine or force it to walk in circles and behave in other strange ways. Aminoglycoside antibiotics are the most common causes behind this. Gentamicin, neomycin, tobramycin and kanamycin are aminoglycoside antibiotics capable of causing deafness. Thus, they are usually considered to be last resort medications, when the dog is likely to die without the treatment.

Finally, exposure to excessively loud sounds can damage a dog's hearing permanently. A gunshot can do this as well as firecrackers and fireworks. Usually, the dog will prepare to block loud sounds by turning its ears. However, in sudden cases, its ears get exposed, leading to possible hearing loss.

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