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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Hearing requires normal function of the ear, of the nerves that communicate between the ear and the brain, and of the brain itself.

Deafness is quite common in cats and dogs. It most often occurs in young animals in which it may be associated with a congenital defect, or in old animals in which there is degeneration of the receptors (sensory cells) in the ear. Dalmatians are predisposed to develop congenital deafness, as are white cats.

Deafness can result from:

  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Drug toxicity 
  • Tumours

Hearing loss can be partial, but it is complete if the sensory cells have been destroyed. Deafness can sometimes affect only one ear, but this is unlikely to be noticed by an owner, and it can be difficult to demonstrate without performing some special diagnostic tests. Many old animals appear to experience a gradual progressive, loss of hearing and because dogs and cats rely quite heavily on their sense of hearing, deafness can cause profound changes in their usual behaviour patterns. It also presents practical problems for owners who use their voice to call or control their pet.

Unfortunately, most forms of deafness, apart from temporary deafness caused by ear infection (see otitis externa), are not treatable in dogs and cats.

CLICK HERE for information about deafness in old animals


Updated October 2013