Breeds that are susceptible to deafness are:
• Breeds with narrow ear canals
• Breeds with a lot of hair around the ears such as Cocker Spaniels
• Puppies from deaf parents
Deafness in dogs is often hereditary. When searching for a puppy from a breeder the question of deafness in the bloodline is an essential question to ask. A reputable breeder will have had his bitches and studs checked before mating to ensure the healthiest possible puppies.
Having to cope with a serious dog problem such as deafness is when the truly adaptable nature of your canine pet will come to light. It may take a while for an owner to realize that their dog is deaf, especially if it has come on gradually. However their dog has likely been aware of it and adapting by watching their owners more closely and frequently during that time.
There are both incurable and curable types of deafness
• Damaged hearing due to loud noises, severe, untreated ear infections, etc.
• Old age
• Some medication side effects
• Mild to moderate ear infections
• Build up of hair and/or wax in the ears
Cocker spaniels suffer a lot with curable deafness due to the large amount of hair around the ear. This can easily shed into the ear causing a blockage, or a plug. Pet health and wellbeing can be affected by this, so regular check-ups at the vet are essential.
The avoidance of deafness in Cocker spaniels involves having a good dog health care plan, and regular grooming and trimming of the fur around the ear.
Signs to look for:
• Not responding to spoken commands
• Being unaware of a person’s presence until physically touched
• Not barking at noises such as doorbells, knocks, fireworks etc.
• Barking incessantly
• Pawing at the ear
• Rubbing the head
• Jumping when touched
• Not waking unless touched
If an owner suspects that they have a deaf dog they can take him down to the vets for a hearing check – or sneak up on the dog and clap loudly to gauge it’s reaction.
If a vet diagnoses curable deafness due to a build up of hair or wax, they might ask the owner to clean out the ears every day with a prescription solution to flush out the blockage. If an infection is causing hearing difficulties then they will prescribe antibiotics.
An incurable case of deafness does not mean that the deaf dog is not a healthy dog and cannot live just as happy and active a life as any other dog. It does mean that certain provisions must be made, and special training strategies adopted. There are a lot of training aids available for owners of deaf dogs such as a vibration collar (nothing like an electric collar), which will vibrate when the remote is pressed. Owners can teach their dogs to respond to the vibrations in the place of a voice command and this enables a deaf dog to be able to run free off the lead.
Hand signals can be taught to all dogs, deaf or not. That way, if the dog does become deaf later in life, the transition from spoken to visual commands will be a lot easier.
The serious dog illness distemper has been known to cause damage to the ear, which affects the hearing. Ensuring all vaccinations are up to date will not only minimize the risk of illness, but also secondary infections or complications such as deafness.
Maintaining dog health is important for more reasons than to avoid deafness. However if a dog goes deaf, there is little to nothing that can be done to stop nature taking its toll. Keeping up to date with vaccinations and talking to a vet about precautions is advisable especially if you have a Cocker Spaniel, any dog breed with a lot of hair around the ears, or a dog with white, piebald, merle or spotty coats.
For more information about Cocker Spaniels, check out the highly recommended The Complete A – Z Guide To The Cocker Spaniel package today.