Welcome to your complete guide to hearing aids for dogs!
If you’re reading this article, then chances are that your beloved senior dog has begun to lose his hearing. Or perhaps, you got a new puppy who may be showing signs of deafness.
Many owners of dogs with partial or total hearing loss wonder, “Can dogs get hearing aids?” and whether or not there is anything else they can do to help their four-legged companions.
Fiction into Fact!
The good news is, hearing aids for dogs have been in development since the late 1980s.
The bad news is, there is still much research to be done before hearing aids for dogs are affordable, readily available, and tolerable for the wearer.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the causes of hearing loss and deafness in dogs.
Finding out how to tell if your dog has a hearing problem, as well as the current research surrounding hearing aids for dogs.
What causes hearing loss or deafness in dogs?
Canine hearing loss or deafness can be congenital (present at birth), a result of infection or trauma to the ear, or it may be gradual as a dog ages.
Congenital deafness is more prevalent in certain dog breeds.
According to renowned canine deafness researcher Dr. George Strain, there are over 100 dog breeds with incidents of hereditary deafness.
The most commonly affected breeds are the Dalmatian, Bull Terrier, Australian Heeler, Catahoula, English Cocker Spaniel, Parson Russell Terrier, and Boston Terrier.
Additionally, some dogs with a certain color seem to be predisposed to deafness.
According to Strain’s 2015 The Genetics of Deafness in Domestic Animals study, “the recessive alleles of the piebald locus and the dominant allele of the merle locus are associated with congenital hereditary deafness in dogs.”
Simply put, dogs with the piebald gene (a lot of white fur and lack of skin pigmentation) or the merle gene (the ‘dappled’ coat color that is often observed in breeds such as Australian Shepherds and Great Danes) are more likely to be born deaf in one or both ears.
However, any dog, regardless of their breeding or age, can permanently lose their hearing due to an untreated ear infection, constant exposure to loud noises over time, or trauma to the bone surrounding the inner ear.
Permanent hearing loss has also been reported in some dogs after they’ve undergone anesthesia for surgical treatment.
And, similarly to people, dogs can simply lose their hearing function as they grow older.
How can I tell if my dog is going deaf?
If a puppy is born completely deaf, then you may be able to tell by the pup’s lack of individual response to noise in his environment- such as your voice and other sounds around the house- which continues after 10 days of age.
Additionally, deaf puppies often tend to stick with and mimic their litter mates’ behaviors, as opposed to discovering new things on their own.
If a puppy is born with unilateral deafness (one deaf ear and one functional ear), or if your adult dog is losing their hearing, then it may not be so obvious in the early stages.
Initially, you may just notice the dog having a hard time figuring out where a sound came from.
This often is apparent to the dog’s owners.
As the hearing loss progresses, the dog may be slow to respond or not respond at all to noise that they normally would, such as your calling their name, giving them a verbal cue, or perhaps the sound of their food bowl being filled.
They may also be easily startled or become aggressive to animals and even their owners because of their inability to hear someone or something approaching. Their bark may also sound much different from before.
The aforementioned signs of deafness aren’t the only tools to determine whether or not your dog is suffering from hearing loss.
In fact, there are three different diagnostic tests which can detect hearing loss in dogs in varying degrees: