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Hearing Loss In Dogs

Cost of Treatment: $115 to $2,507

What Is Hearing Loss In Dogs?

Deafness is defined as a partial or complete hearing loss. Levels of hearing impairment vary from a mild to a total loss of hearing. Dogs of any breed can be affected with hearing loss or deafness from a variety of causes, but breeds with white pigmentation are most often affected.

Types Of Hearing Loss In Dogs

Congenital Deafness

Some dogs are born without the ability to hear in one or both ears; in these cases, the disease is inherited and irreversible. Congenital deafness is most commonly found in dog breeds with white pigmentation and blue eye color.

Obstructive Deafness

In these cases, deafness or hearing loss results from obstruction of the sound transmission as a consequence of occlusion of the outer or middle ear. Otitis of the middle or external ear can cause an excessive buildup of earwax that occludes the outer and/or middle ear.

Age-related Hearing Loss

As dogs age, it is common that they lose hearing progressively and this is not related to trauma, genetics or other diseases.

Even though this occurs progressively, most owners perceive the hearing loss as an acute event because most animals only show signs of deafness when they have completely lost their hearing ability.


Certain drugs such as antibiotics, diuretics, and chemotherapeutics can cause hearing loss. The hearing loss may be reversible if diagnosed early but will, in most cases, result in permanent hearing deficits.

Some of the ototoxic drugs are:

  • aminoglycoside antibiotics
  • tetracyclines
  • ampicillin
  • chloramphenicol
  • cisplatin
  • vinblastine and vincristine
  • furosemide
  • benzalkonium chloride
  • digoxin
  • insulin
  • potassium bromide
  • prednisolone
  • salicylates

Other Causes

Exposure to intense sounds may cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Other possible causes of deafness are trauma, infection, anoxia, and anesthesia.

Symptoms Of Hearing Loss In Dogs

  • He/she is unresponsiveness to everyday sounds
  • Your Dog turns the wrong way when you call him/her
  • Not woken by a loud noise
  • Constantly shakes his/her head
  • Your dog shows no response or seems confused when given familiar vocal commands.
  • Excessive barking
  • Your dog has itchy, painful ears
  • A smelly discharge comes from his/her ears (could be a sign of ear infection)

Treatment Of Hearing Loss In Dogs

If you identify any of the above signs you can test your dog’s hearing by stepping quietly behind him and clapping once loudly to check his/her response. Any deafness present in the dog at birth is irreversible and these dogs should not be bred.

The treatment of temporary deafness depends on the cause. If hearing loss is caused by an inflammation of the ear it can be treated with antibiotics and analgesics. If your dog has wax build-up in his ears, he/she will need daily ear cleaning with a prescription wash.

Resources For Hearing Loss In Dogs

 1- ASPCA: Deafness In Dogs

Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.

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