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Companion Animal Practice
Investigation of hearing loss in dogs
  1. Celia Cox

    Celia Cox graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1981. After five years in practice, she joined the University of Bristol, where she gained a certificate in veterinary radiology and a diploma of fellowship of the RCVS in small animal ear, nose and throat surgery. In 1988, she set up an ENT referral practice in the Winchester area and, in 1993, the Hearing Assessment Clinic evolved to test dogs' and cats' hearing using the brainstem auditory evoked response test. She is an RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery (ENT).


HEARING is important in dogs for their social interaction. It makes them more pleasurable companions and also alerts them to potentially dangerous situations. In the case of working dogs, such as police dogs, guard dogs and hearing dogs for the deaf, which alert their owners to sounds like the telephone or doorbell, animals are only useful if they can 'hear well'. Hearing loss in dogs can range from complete to partial hearing loss in one or both ears. Minor losses generally go undetected, but severe loss in one ear can cause difficulty in localising sound. This article discusses how hearing loss is classified and describes a number of diagnostic aids which are available to help determine whether a hearing disorder is present, which ear is affected, the severity of the loss and the site of the impairment. It also provides some guidelines on the management of deaf dogs.

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