Sudden Deafness (Hearing Loss) in Dogs and Cats

Shitzu with ownerI received a veterinary consultation call yesterday from a woman in Florida asking about sudden deafness in her 8 year old Shitzu.

Her dog behaved completely normally the morning of this incident. She came home that afternoon and called her dog and it did not greet her as usual. She walked into the bedroom, found him lying on the bed and called him again and he did not respond. She became alarmed at this lack of response and walked up to him and put her hand on him. He responded with a startle reaction at her touch but then jumped off the bed and seemed completely normal.

Her dog had no history of ear problems and absolutely no other symptoms of ear disease- no head tilt, no neurologic signs, no odor. She took him to her veterinarian and he could find nothing wrong with his ear canals and had no explanation for his sudden deafness.


There are very few causes of sudden deafness in dogs and it is a rare event, especially in a young dog. Most of these causes have other accompanying symptoms.

Otitis Externa (Ear infections)

Ear disease can cause deafness if both tympanic membranes (ear drums) are completely occluded, but is almost always accompanied by discharge, odor, discomfort and scratching at the ears.

Medication toxicity

Some medications can cause temporary or permanent sudden hearing loss in dogs but is also generally accompanied by other neurologic signs such as a head tilt to one side, stumbling, unsteady gait (ataxia) or walking in circles. Some antibiotics and ear cleaning solutions have caused this type of deafness.

Traumatic Damage

Very loud noises can cause temporary or semi- permanent hearing loss (usually by rupturing the ear drums). Gunfire, fireworks, very loud alarms or music can be responsible for this type of hearing loss, but generally the animal recovers eventually.

Compensation or Selective Hearing Loss

In my 22 years of practicing medicine it is much more common for me to see older animals that have been slowly losing their ability to hear but have compensated for it in a variety of ways until one day their compensatory mechanisms (picking up on vibrations, smell, habits of their owners, etc) no longer works for them and they can no longer detect any sounds at all. This often appears as sudden deafness but is truly hearing loss occurring over time.

Animals adapt very quickly to hearing loss and learn to use other methods of detecting what is going on around them and don’t seem to be bothered by their inability to hear. But then, they don’t seem to be bothered by most of what bothers us humans do they? Do you have any other causes of sudden hearing loss that you know about?

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  1. Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Aw, this reminds me of my dog, Lucky. He recently passed, but before he did he was suffering from some serious hearing and sight problems. It was awful.

  2. Posted February 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Hope you got my email sending condolences for your loss and letting you know that dogs and cats seem to adapt well to the loss of both hearing and sight. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  3. Jessica
    Posted June 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    When I dropped my Miniature Schnauzer off at the groomer (inside my vet’s office) Saturday he had excellent hearing. He already can’t see, we adopted him with mature cataracts at about 5 years old, now he can’t hear either. His hearing was so precise that locking my car outside my apartment or the sound of crunching gravel outside would cause him to bark and greet me at the door. He’s an incredibly obedient little boy and the mention of his name usually sends him to my side. Ever since we got him back from the groomer he can’t hear a thing, I startle him when I enter the room and touch him, he sniffs around the house looking for us. I’m absolutely heartbroken that this has happened. The groomer had him sedated with acepromazine, no other medications in his system, and now I have a Schnauzer who has absolutely no hearing. I have no idea what to do and my vet doesn’t seem to believe me that his hearing loss was sudden.

    • Posted June 4, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Aloha Jessica, Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about this problem. My heart goes out to you. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that it’s possible that the groomer used a combination of powder and water in his ears that may have become somewhat solidified and is causing this immediate hearing loss. Please take him to a veterinarian and ask that they examine his eardrums (tympanic membranes) with an otoscope to see if there is anything on top of the ear drum, blocking his hearing. It is probable that he had some hearing loss (and believe it or not he can FEEL your car in the driveway) and this has made it much worse.
      I do not like the use of acepromazine at all, especially in older dogs! Please let me know how this turns out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  4. Kayti
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    My cat first presented the symptoms of scabbing with hair loss (mostly on belly and small amounts on top of head and ankles). We found that it was not fungal and it did tend to go away with antibiotics and steroids, though it does come back as soon as we stop treatment. My cat has now gone deaf (9 yrs old). This has all happened within the last 4 months. I’m wondering if there are any autoimmune disorders that would cause this? Or if you can help point me in the right direction so that I can help my vet? I would really appreciate your help. She’s like my child. She’s leaving clumps of fur everywhere. :/ I really don’t think it’s food allergies and it’s not ear mites. Thank you!

    • Posted August 1, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Hi Kayti, So sorry to hear you are having these problems with your cat. It is an unusual case. I am suspicious of a systemic (means throughout the whole system- immune, lymphatic, blood, etc) problem. Has she been tested recently for Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus? These are both fairly inexpensive tests you can have performed by your vet if they have not done so. Does the cat itch at the scabbing/hair loss or does it just seem to fall out? Is there redness or irritation in the areas of hair loss or is the undercoat skin normal and healthy looking? Are her lymph nodes a normal size. Be sure to have your veterinarian palpate (feel) her abdomen very carefully for enlarged lymph nodes and they may show up on an xray. Have any xrays been done? If they have been done, has a radiologist seen them and given a report. This does not really sound like a typical allergic, fungal, parasitic or skin problem in general, it sounds like something more complicated. With the deafness has your vet been able to see the tympanic membranes (ear drums) in both ears? Are there any other neurological signs like different sized pupils, head tilt, mentation (attitude, behavioral changes? Please let me know more. Thanks for your questions. Teri Byrd DVM

  5. Tobydog
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    My 9 1/2 year old terrier mix was treated for an ear infection, with in a week he could not hear a thing . . . .was it the medication? The ear wash? I’m hoping it is only temporary. I feel so bad for him.

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      So sorry, I missed this in the middle of a bunch of spam that I am getting on the site. What type of medication is your dog on? If it is Gentocin based, stop it immediately! Gentocin can cause hearing loss/deafness in dogs. If it is not Gentocin it may just have been the liquid in his ears which means you need to decrease the amount of medication/cleaner/liquid you are putting in the ear. A small dog need a very small amount and if it is staying deep in his ear canals you need to let them dry out anyway. Please let me know more information, type of ear cleaner and medication in particular. Thank you for your questions. Teri Byrd DVM

      • Stacy
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        This same thing just happened to my 8year old Maltese. She had an ear infection and it was treated with neomycin. I only put one drop in one ear each day for four days. By day four she could no longer hear! It is breaking my heart! I took her back to the vet. He believes it was a reaction to the medicine because her eardrum is in tact and looks normal. How did it damage both ears? Is there anything I can do to reverse the damage or to help her? My vet said this was rare and he was going to do some research on it and get back to me. Would love to know if anyone else has some advice?

        • Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          Hi Stacy, So sorry, my notification system is not working and I didn’t get this comment until today (october 1, 2013). Neomycin is definitely ototoxic and there are still some veterinarians out there using it. Please let me know if your dog recovered any hearing. I have another case where the dog ended up with severe peripheral vestibular disease (head tilt, nystagmus, ataxia, loss of balance, etc) I hope your Maltese recovered. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  6. Janice Hodgson
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Hi Tobydog/Teribyrd….
    i own a dog walking/pet-sitting company, and one of my clients’ dogs had the same thing happen with her golden last wk. Got medication for an ear infection, then suddenly went deaf. She stopped the drops, and will see a specialist today. Just wondering if Tobydog has any follow-up — did your terrier regain any of his hearing??

    • Posted September 9, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Hi Janice, So sorry, it took me a while to uncover this in my e-mail box. I have received a lot of responses about this happening so I think it is fairly common. I’m not sure why there isn’t better labeling on Gentocin ear products. Very sad. I will post this and we will see if Tobydog’s owner replies. Thanks for your comment. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  7. Tammi
    Posted September 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi. I adopted a boxer/st. bernard mix three years ago. He was 9 at the time and had been blind since the sanctuary that took him in at age 1. i had to have his eyes removed about 2 years ago. He has been perfectly fine.No problems getting around at all . Yesterday i noticed he wasnt responding to my voice commands. Today I have tested him all day. He seems to be completely deaf. He normally tilts his head when i talk to him and minds commands and goes to his bowl when i say dinner time… lets go out… come here..etc.Now he never even looks up. His ears do not move even when i sing him his favorite song. He always connected w me when I talked to him. Now, it’s like Im not even in the house. I am devastated.. what in the world?! One day my dog is fine, the next day he’s deaf. Im lost.

    • Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Hello Tammi, I am so sorry, my notification system is not working and I did not receive your comment until today (October 1, 2013). This is not an uncommon scenario that I have heard in my office setting. While it does seem like they become deaf overnight, generally they have been losing their hearing for quite some time but compensating in other ways (vibrations, certain wavelengths of sounds are heard but not others, etc) and then that compensation goes away for good. How are things now? Most dogs do not have attachment to the senses like we do and they are much more accepting when things disappear. He will learn to adjust to his surrounding much like he did when he became blind, You can figure out ways to communicate using vibrations or touch. Please let me know how things turned out. Take Care, Teri Byrd

  8. Jenny
    Posted September 10, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Our lovely Silky Terrier went to a pet sitter for the last week of Summer holiday. Since we brought him home, he seems not to be able to hear his name and does not react as he typically did to the noise of his food being prepated, the chime of our garage door or our calls from the laundry room when we are ready to take him for a walk… we are heartbroken! This was a new sitter recommended by a neighbor. She cares for 20+ dogs at the same time. During his stay, one of her dogs delivered 5 puppies. Could she have medicated Oliver to keep him sedated with an ototoxic drug?… He is a good boy! Can’t think of him giving her any trouble!

    • Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m so sorry, there is something wrong with my notification system and I did not get this until today October 1! How old is your dog and did you ask if any ear cleaning was done at the pet sitters? Please let me know how things turned out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  9. Rick Hansen RPh
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I have a female mixed fox terrier, age 11, no prior health problems who suffered sudden bilateral hearing loss following a 3 day stay at a pet boarding facility.
    Prior to visit the pet (Maggie) had perfect hearing.
    Visit to veterinarian demonstrated no physical abnormality post otoscopic exam.
    Pet presented no symptoms of auditory disease and was not introduced to any medications other than a vitamin/mineral supplement purchased week earlier distributed by GNC Pets.
    Could constant barking sounds while at a pet shelter for only 3 days or perhaps a supplement given at recommended dose ( one per day) described as a premium ultra mega multivitamin plus formulation be suspect to sudden hearing loss?

    • Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Hi Rick, I am so sorry but my notification system was not working and I did not get this comment until today (october 1, 2013) Here is some information from a letter I wrote as an expert witness in a similar case.

      Causes of ruptured tympanic membranes in dogs include: Iatrogenic (induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures) perforation with Q-tips or other devices used in the ear cleaning process, sudden severe changes in atmospheric pressure- including pressure or suction applied to the ear canal by bulb syringes used in the cleaning of the ear canal, Otitis externa (infection in the outer ear canal), Otitis media (infection in the middle ear canal) trauma, exposure to toxins, very loud noises (such as an explosion or gunshot creating a overpowering sound wave) and foreign objects (grass awns, Q-tips, bobby pins, curettes) and skull trauma/fracture.
      References for the causes of a ruptured tympanic membrane (ear drum) in both humans and dogs can be found at: and And in: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals and The Merck Veterinary Manual, Editors: Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS

      The barking would have to be very loud to cause hearing loss, not normal. Please let me know how things turned out. Take Care, Teri Byrd

  10. Diane
    Posted October 30, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    My dog just had an Otipak for an ear infection and now it seems that he lost some hearing. Should, I take my dog to another vet since the vet that prescribed the Otipak did not tell me of any side effects. If I had known I would have taken him right back to the vet at the first sign of hearing problems to remove the medication but did not because I assumed he could not hear because the medication was just blocking the sound and it would go away once the medication dissolved. I have read it happened to a lot of dogs and can’t understand why they would use this drug anymore if it causes so many problems.

    • Posted October 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Hi Diane, So sorry to hear about your dog’s problems. I am not familiar with Otipak? Are you sure that is the correct name of the medication? Otomax is a different medication, not known to be associated with the toxic effects of the gentocin based ear medications. Please check the label. Your dog may not be able to hear because the medication is present inside the ear canals. Is the hearing loss total or partial? Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  11. John
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    My dog seemingly overnight has some ( a lot) of hearing loss. Ears don’t seem irritated or in pain.
    Habitually her patterns have changed. she would sleep in my room nightly and only get up when I got up. Now she is up very early needing to go outside. she is older, almost 12 but very active and alert until suddenly over night she has changed. any thought? Thanks

    • Posted November 12, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Hi John, It sounds like two different things going on- the hearing loss and the needing to get up may not be related. In my experience sudden hearing loss in older dogs is usually a situation where they have been compensated for partial hearing loss by being very keenly attuned to movements, vibrations, patterns, etc and lose the ability to compensate. A good way to test this theory is to creep into a room where your dog is sleeping and without causing a lot of vibration, clap your hand together or make a sound and see if she hears it. If there is no response, she is truly deaf. Be sure to look deep into ear canals to see if there is any liquid or debris present, but it is unlikely if she has not been scratching them.
      The sudden need to go outside first thing in the morning is much more likely to be associated with the urinary tract- either a need to urinate more frequently which can be due to a variety of reasons or an incontinence which many older female dogs experience as they age or with some diseases such as Cushings or Diabetes. . I would encourage you to see a vet to have a UA and bloodwork done to see what is going on.
      Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  12. lyn
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    My collie cross, who is 13yrs old, seems to have gone deaf over night. Very occationally he will respond, but this is only when he is concentrating on what we are doing. He is not shaking his head, tge is no head tilting and no odour. He does seem yo be sleeping more deeply than before, but I guess if he can’t hear us entering a room he won’t wake will he? This may sound silly, but I worry he is sad because he thinks we are no longer talking to him.

    • Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lyn, Nothing is ever silly when it comes from the heart and loving your animals. I understand completely. It is likely that he has been going slowly deaf for quite some time and used to be able to compensate better by paying close attention to vibrational patterns and knowing and caring where you are and what you are doing. Just like us as we age, dogs and cats care less as their senses grow dimmer. So don’t feel bad. He will ALWAYS know you are talking to him whether he can hear it or not. He can feel your love and attention in a million different ways that we humans cannot. Let him have his time of sleeping deeply, just like you would your grandmother or grandfather. They need their naps more and more as they get toward the end of their time here. Don’t forget that animals are not as attached to life as we are. They are attached to us, but not life in general. They are very accepting of things that we aren’t. They accept changes easily and do not get sad or discouraged about things like this. Your dog knows you have given him a full lifetime of love and attention and that is why he has lived to be a very old person. Please let me know if you have any other questions, especially when the time comes to consider letting him go. It is one of the most graceful options we have in the animal world. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  13. Becky
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I was so glad to find this page. I have a 12 year old Cairn Terrier named Riley. He has a lot of allergy issues that have been under control for a long long time and generally he has been doing well.

    Nearly 2 years ago he had a seizure that left him temporarily blind and without sensation on one side of his face. I felt it was a stroke but the emergency vet seemed to think that was unlikely. His blood work was all messed up and they suspected a brain tumor. He gradually recovered his sight and we took him to our regular vet three weeks later and the blood work was nearly normal.

    Fast forward to 3 weeks ago we are not sure if he had some other sort of event, but one morning he just seemed unsure how to pick up his food off the plate. He eventually got it but it seemed sensory or neurological to me, as though something had changed. He could take food from my hand and did not seem to have an issue with eating, appetite or swallowing. He had no digestive upset, I could not find anything wrong with his mouth to cause this and gradually that improved. He still seemed a little slower on the uptake after that though his hearing was sharp.

    He is one of those dogs that will tilt his head when you say do you want a treat or for a walk and was always doing that. It was a cute thing about him. This past weekend we went away to visit our daughter. My son and wife stayed at the house and left shortly before we arrived back home. When I got home I called out to Riley that we were home and got no response at all. I went into the room where he was an called again and he did not respond until I tapped him on the shoulder. He got up and seemed ok but was not responding to any of the verbal commands or asking if he wanted a treat/walk with the head tilt that he could do just a few days ago. I asked my son if he noticed but he just said that he seemed slower than normal. He thought he might have been tired because they had played with him quite a bit that morning.

    This morning he is still not responding to anythingv verbal. When I say do you want to go for a walk or get a treat there is nothing and normally I could whisper that and he would be all over it. I looked in his ears and did not see anything. I smelled and there is no sign of infection. I got very close to each ear and spoke right into them. He seemed freaked out and wanted to get away from me doing that. Granted I have never done that in the past and perhaps it was just the air but it seemed like I got that response when I did it with his left ear but he seemed less affected when I did it with the right. He never cared much for the vet looking in his ears so he might just be sensitive. That is about all I know.

    I have an appt with our vet on Friday. Even though I am not sure what he can really do I figure it is the right thing to do. I will probably have him do some blood work just to see what is going on. He has had some high liver enzymes for more than half of his life but is on 1mg pred every other day to keep the allergies under control so the vet has always thought it was probably that. He has no other symptoms of cushings.

    I see that a lot of dogs can appear to go suddenly deaf and it’s really not so sudden. I will say that we have noticed him not being as affected by thunderstroms this past summer as previous summers. Same with fireworks. But something in this is definitely sudden. Four days ago he would run to the door if I said anything about going for a walk. Same with getting a treat. The cute tilting at the sound of my voice is absolutely gone and I am just heart broken.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Hi Becky, I’m so sorry to hear about Riley’s problems that are causing you concern. I love Cairn Terriers, they are wonderful personalities.
      It sounds to me like it is very likely that Riley did suffer a stroke. You are doing the right thing to take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Here is a link to some information on strokes: Another possibility is a brain tumor. The best person to diagnose him would be a veterinary neurologist if you have one in your area. Your regular veterinarian can refer you and it will be good to have the blood work and other data to present to the neurologist, they may need to do an MRI.

      I know that it is very upsetting to us to have our dogs not be able to hear us, but in my experience, they accept this much better than we do. Dogs adapt easily to many changes with their health. As long as he is not in pain and not anxious about the changes it is best to remain calm and keep things as normal as possible. They can substitute vibration for hearing so try snapping your fingers or tapping or stepping on the floor to get his attention. Here is another link that talks about training for non-hearing dogs.

      I will be hoping for Riley’s recovery, please let me know how things turn out. Thank you for being such a caring pet owner. Take care, Teri Byrd DVM

  14. Becky
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the links, I will check them out. When we discussed the possibility of a brain tumor we opted to not have the tests because there is no treatment so we did not want to have to sedate him to do it which presents issues. We opted to just enjoy him for as long as we had him. I will write back after his appt Friday. Thanks again

  15. Aditya
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to take an advice. My labrador is 8 years old and recently went through a treatment for B.gingivitus where he was given fluids via drips and antibiotics. A lot of times he did not eat medicines. But he was fine eventually. When he was about 4-5 years old he suffered a spine injury.

    That is just the history. He lately has been developing slight hearing problems. He does hear things but not immediately. Sometimes we are walking behind him and will call him he won’t hear unless we go a little loud. He does hear the bell properly. At times i have noticed that he hears things he is keen on. For ex. when i take him out for walk he knows the almirah sound where his strap is and when i open it he listens to it at times and at times doesn’t. He has a blood clot on the top of his ear flap n both the sides which i am guessing happening because of him scratching or shaking his head real hard.

    Since a month what i have noticed is foul smell from ear which comes occasionally. Sometimes he is ok and sometimes he shakes his head so bloody hard that it scares me. A few hours back he got up from sleep and did the same but now peacefully sleeping. So its not continuos but does happen often now. It has happened in past as i see dogs going through this time times but this time because it is accompanied by hearing loss, it is bothering me.

    Because doc gave me a huge treatment sometimes i get scared of over treating him. Sometimes i feel paranoid on trusting a doctor. He has never over charged us or did anything but i sometimes feel. He during his last injury a few months back was also diagnosed with a enlarged heart. The doc gave medicines which would help him pee more and clear the fluids. He was not able to move at times and stomach felt bloated too but he felt much better after those medicines and got ok very quick. What do you suggest here?

    i did clean his ear today. Sometimes the brown coffee coloured material comes out. Someetimes its more sometimes its very less.

    • Posted January 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Hello Aditya, Your dog has an ear infection and it sounds very bad. It needs to be treated with antibiotics both in the ear and systemic (pills given orally, by mouth) and possibly anti-inflammatory medications. Your veterinarian needs to evaluate the ears, clean them gently and thoroughly and possibly take a culture (bacteria test) to find out what is causing the problem. Sometimes ear infections also have a fungal (yeast) component that needs to be treated as well. You need to apply a lot of the ear medications twice daily for at least 14 days. When you are finished there should be no odor and absolutely no material in the ears. Dogs ears should normally be just like ours- nothing in them, clean skin. It is a lot of work (especially in Labradors) and finding the cause is important. Your lab may be allergic to something- make sure he is on flea medication and is eating healthy food. Please let me know how things turn out, Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  16. Ryan
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I have a 10 year old shepard chow mix. Like a few have commented I feel she has gone almost deaf over night. New years night she could hear fireworks in the distance and if I even picked up her leash she could be in another room and come running. I thought she was ignoring me a couple times yesterday but today thought it was weird so I picked up her leash and jingled it right behind her head with no reaction. Could this be temporary? Im going to try and get her into the Vet soon otherwise she seems fine. I checked her ears no bad odor or build up I could see.

    • Posted February 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ryan, So sorry, this was buried in my inbox and I just received it. Sounds like selective hearing (partial hearing loss). Hopefully you’ve had her into the vet to find out but it sounds like she is losing her hearing. They compensate for the loss by becoming more alert to vibrations and actions. For example, if you always keep the leash by the door and she senses you are headed toward the door, she may become more alert to find out if you are taking her out. I hope everything turned out ok. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  17. Posted February 10, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    My dog just had his teeth cleaned and a broken tooth removed four days ago. He was only at the vet for a couple of hours. We have gradually realized since his return that he cannot hear a thing. He is an older dog, 11 or 12, a rescue. We don’t know his exact age. The vet has no idea why.

    • Posted February 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Hi Linda, So sorry to hear about this development with your dog. I have no idea how a dental and hearing loss would be related. I would pursue further diagnostics- otoscopic exam, skull x-rays, etc to find out. It may be that he was slowly losing his hearing and the stress of the anesthesia/dental just took it one step further, but I’ve never heard of anything like this happening. I hope things turn out ok for him. Teri Byrd DVM

      • davidp
        Posted March 21, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        That experience with dental cleaning & extractions happened to our cat. His hearing came back after a few months, stayed for about ayear and recently went deaf again suddenly and profoundlly. No apparent issues of discomfort -he loves earrubs as always, no odor, energy and appetite is good. Saving for vet visit next but so traumatic for him and his old vet is gone super expensive. Thanks for such a generous sharing of your knowledge and compassion. DnJ n Mojo

  18. Ellie
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    My dog was put on liquichlor gel ointment for an ear infection for 14 days. By the 9th day he lost his appetite and by the 11th day he was vomiting bile and couldn’t keep water down, diarrhea, and depression. I stopped the antibiotics and took him to the vet. They gave him sub q fluids and said to only clean his ear with saline solution. By the following morning he was completely deaf.

    How can he be deaf in both ears when the medication was only gave in one?

    • Posted February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ellie, So sorry to hear about this. I’m not sure why he is deaf in both ears if the non infected one was never treated, I don’t know what age he is which can also be a cause of deafness, I would take him to a different veterinarian and have diagnostic tests (blood work, x-rays) to see what is going on. I hope things work out ok for him. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  19. ellen reisman
    Posted March 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    My dog had a kidney removed just over 2 years ago and I understand that this can exacerbate the aging process. Her depth perception is diminished and her hearing is no longer acute. Just this past week something new has been added to the mix. Whenever I cough or sneeze, she bolts from the room or off the bed and goes to another room in the house. She is over 12 and has certainly heard these noises before but I am wondering if the decibel level is now hurting her ears as her hearing worsens. I know that in humans when hearing deteriorates some sounds can hurt the ears but could this be true for dogs as well? I now keep a pillow nearby so that I can stifle the noise…I hate to see her freaking out.

    • Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Hello Ellen, Sorry about the confusion but my blog post had nothing to do with your comment. I cannot always get to these comments as quickly as people would like when I am working full time. I have no idea why your dog is bolting when you cough or sneeze but my guess is that it has more to do with her thinking that you are somehow in distress as she cannot hear that it is a normal cough or sneeze and may think you are having a spasm or seizure. It sounds like a bit of a phobia and you may try desensitizing her with smaller jerking movements while you are petting her or rewarding her for keeping calm. You also might try Cesar Milan as it sounds like a behavioral issue. Please see your veterinarian and maybe they can come up with a more accurate picture of what is happening. Teri Byrd DVM

  20. Alex Ibanez
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    My best friend Charlie is a 12 year old Papillon. Over the past couple of months he was gradually losing his hearing. I didn’t realize that this was happening until about a week ago when he didn’t respond when I offered him a cookie. I kept offering it to him several times, louder each time and he didn’t react at all. It was that moment that I realized that him not reacting when the mail man put the mail in the box wasn’t just age related indifference. I am extremely surprised because he has the energy of a puppy and is always very active. Well, not anymore. Ever since that moment that he didn’t respond to me offering him a cookie, he does nothing but sleep all day. Everything changed from one moment to the next. Up until that moment, he responded to my voice normally so I was shocked that from one moment to the next his ability to hear just stopped. Needless to say I am heartbroken. My beautiful little friend is completely blind in his ears. Total audio darkness. I am afraid that he will slip into a deep depression and he will never be happy again. I just can’t imagine that. He will never hear praise or love or affection. It is just him and me and I am disabled with a lot of health issues so I am not physically able to play with him a lot. Our relationship was based on verbal affection and petting him as I watched TV or when he snuggled up and sleeps pressed up against my side. Now he just sleeps in his bed all day in complete silence.
    Please tell me if you think he will get past this sleeeping stage. He doesn’t appear to be sad yet, but I think that he just doesn’t know what to do in this new silent world. I would greatly appreciate any information and advice. Thank you.


    • Posted March 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Hello Alex, I’m so sorry to hear that your friend is deteriorating. It’s important that you take Charlie to your veterinarian to make sure that he doesn’t have any health problems that are contributing to this decline. But, please don’t worry so much on his behalf about the hearing loss. Animals are much more accepting and adaptable about life changes than we humans are. Rather than fight against these inevitable changes like we do, they just accept them and go on. There will come a time in our lives when all we want to do is sleep most of the time as well. Charlie will be dreaming of all the great times you have had together and he will always be grateful for your obvious love and affection for him. I wish there was a way to prevent them from aging but instead we have to accept it. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

      • Alex Ibanez
        Posted March 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for your kind, encouraging words Teri. I feel much better. God bless you.


  21. Frank
    Posted March 27, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Teri, I have read all your comments, as my dog at 13 has lost all of her hearing. I am such a dummy it really did not dawn on me til recently that she was going deaf. Reading this blog has helped me so much dealing with this. Your calm answers and sympathy for the dog owners is just so amazing. Thank you for having this on the web, you have eased my fear about my dogs loss and I have learned so much from your taking the time to write your heartfelt thoughts on each dog. You are as blessed as our four-legged friends. Keep up the great work.

    • Posted March 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Frank, I appreciate your comment. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  22. Timothy
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    So the other day I took my dog (chow corgie mix) to the vet to get a hematoma on his ear checked out. They said they would have to drain the fluid so I left him there for a couple hours. When I picked him up the hematoma was gone but so whas his hearing! The vet had packed my dogs ear with medicine and gave me antibiotics to take home. This is so weird because the morning I took him he was just fine and responded to commands and now he won’t even bark when someone knocks. Idk I’m starting to think the vet botched up his ears

    • Posted June 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Hi Timothy, When dogs have hematomas it’s generally because they have been shaking their head very hard because they have a bad ear infection. It sounds like your dog had a pretty severe ear infection. Be sure to tell the veterinarian about the hearing loss but it is probably due to the medication covering the tympanic membrane (ear drum) so he can’t hear well. If that is the case, the hearing should return as his ears get healthier and when the medication is gone. Check to see if the ear cleaner or meds have gentocin in them, and if so you may want to switch to a different type of medication. Thank you for your concern for your dog. Teri Byrd DVM

  23. Betsy Choate
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I am dealing with my 13 year old Yorkie-poo in such similar scenario. I have been so distressed by my sudden realization she could not hear me…so sad as my entire family cracks up that I talk to her all of the time. This advice and perspective has greatly comforted me — on my sweet dog’s behalf, and mine. You are TRULY in the profession you are meant to be, Teri.

  24. Medora
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got a 11 year old Australian Shepherd (Blue) that we got from a rescue organization, (he was badly abused by his owner before the rescue agency got him) and I’ve noticed that he’s gone partially deaf. He can hear loud noises, but gets startled by them and either goes running to my bedroom door or outside. At first I thought it was the abuse but ever since my brother went to Cali with my mom, he’s been getting his hearing back. Now I’m thinking it’s because my brother has been playing a lot of loud Music. Could this be the case?


    • Posted July 2, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Hi Medora, It sounds like Blue is indeed losing his hearing and it seems to be a little bit inconsistent. My own dog Pua is 14 years old right now and is definitely losing her hearing and it’s the same way. Sometimes it seems like she can’t hear anything and at other times it seems like she can hear better. I think it has to do with the tone of the sound, the inflection of our voice, the amount of background noise and other variables. I know that hearing is definitely affected by loud music so it could have done some trauma to her ear drums that is healing. I hope it continues to get better. Thank you for your comments. Teri Byrd DVM

  25. Kenny
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    My 4 yr old boxer absolutly loves fireworks – thus, she broke loose and charged an aerial mortar which went off while she was about 3 foot away. She now only responds to a loud clap of the hands which startles he. Is this type of hearing loss temporary / should we consult a vet?

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Hello Kenny, Yes, you definitely need to consult a veterinarian as damage may have been done to her tympanic membranes (ear drums). Please take her in as soon as possible. Pets should be kept indoors on anti-anxiety medication for the 4th of July. I hope everything turns out ok. Teri Byrd DVM

  26. Debbie
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    My Vet put my dog on the medicine Easotic for an ear infection, after a few days use she suddenly lost all of her hearing. I took her back to the Vet and shows blockage in her ears, the Vet says the hearing loss is from the meds. Do you know of anything that can be done to help her regain her hearing? I am so very upset that I ever gave the medicine to her.

    • Posted August 18, 2014 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Hello Debbie, I hope that the decrease in hearing might have been due to the medication or cleaner in her ears. If so, things should be better by now. Otherwise I would return to the veterinarian who provided the treatment to see if anything else can be done for her. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  27. Debbie
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Correction to my post above, she has NO blockage in her ears.

  28. Juanita Jacobs
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Hi. My 11yr old Staffie went to the vet yesterday with VERY normal hearing. After 2 teeth extractions, castration & having his ears cleaned, he came home with a substantial decrease in his range of hearing. On advice from my vet, I took my Staffie for his ears to be flushed today as well as a cortezone injection. We are so sad that this has happened…and when his hearing was so normal before the vet trip. I thought it could have been the ONE treatment of Otomax I gave him as deafness is a possible side effect but yet, after the ear flushing he still has substantial lack of hearing. Is there a possibility he could get his total hearing back or could the procedures he had have caused a permanent hearing deficiency? My heart is broken to think that us trying to improve his health has now led to him losing so much of his hearing. Please advise!

    • Posted August 18, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Hello Juanita, I’m so sorry to hear that your Staffie is having these problems. I hope by now they have resolved. If the deafness resulted from the tympanic membranes (ear drums) being covered by a large quantity of medication or ear cleaner, perhaps now things are better. If not, I would discuss this with your veterinarian that performed the procedure and see if there is anything they can do to improve the situation. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  29. carol
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I bought a 9 week old germ shep puppy who wouldn’t respond to calls noises etc he can’t hear took him to vet who said he does have a hearing problem. the lady I bought him from say its selective hearing. I gave him back an will get another puppy in a few months. she took him in for a hearing test (it called bear test) she says it was normal an the puppy can hear, but when I made loud noseies behind the pups head he showed no response at all, not even a twitch of his ears. she said I can take him back if I want. he is a good puppy but I don’t want a deaf puppy, even if they say he can hear I feel there is a problem. I have a lot of babies an children, who may leave the front door open an he can get hit by a car or worse if he won’t come when I call him or bite if they come up on him an he doesn’t hear them. can the bear test be wrong?

    • Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Hi Carol, I’m so sorry about your trouble with your new puppy. I am very concerned about this issue. I am not familiar with any “selective hearing” problems in puppies. I agree with your concern about how his lack of hearing will affect his safety. He would be better placed in a home where this disability can be accommodated. Please consider having a veterinarian evaluate his hearing and helping you with your decision. Please research this breeder and find out about other puppies placed, make sure that you always get plenty of recommendations for breeders- talk to the people who have obtained puppies in the past and have visited the breeder to make sure they are in compliance with high standards of care. Please let me know how things turn out. Take care, Teri Byrd DVM

  30. Maura
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi, my 8 year old black lab has had a mild ear infection and hot spot around his ear for the last few weeks. The vet put him on antibiotics and told us to clean his ears out. This week we noticed his hearing got significatly worse and now he cant hear at all. The vet said he is 95%-100% deaf. We have finished the antibiotics and are not going to continue using the ear cleaning solution. What are the chances his hearing will come back? Or do you think it is irreversible? Thank you!

    • Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Hello Maura, So sorry to hear about this problem with your lab. The hearing returning depends on what is causing the loss in the first place. It may have been developing already and has worsened, it may be due to the medication being present in the ear canal, or other reasons. You need a veterinarian to look into the ear canals so that they can make sure that there are no problems with the ear canals or the tympanic membranes (ear drums). If they are healthy and the medication is not in the ears reducing the ability to hear and the hearing loss isn’t due to age deterioration, the hearing should come back. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

    Posted September 24, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink


    • Posted October 15, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Hi Frances, I’m so sorry to hear about Pepper’s deafness. I apologize, I did not get notice for your letter until today. I hope things are better now that you stopped the Gentizol. Gentamycin is an ingredient that is commonly used in ear medications but can be toxic to some animals if the tympanic membrane (ear drums) is ruptured (broken) and can cause hearing loss. Here is an article that explains this in more detail: Just copy it into your browser if you can’t click on it. The outcome of this type of hearing loss is uncertain. Please let me know how Pepper is doing. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  32. Jon Brown
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    My chihuahua Mr. Boots was pawing at his face near his ears. I took him to the animal hospital in which they put some waxy stuff in his ears gave him a shot of an antibiotic and steroid. Vet said there was some yeast and a little blood in his ears and that he was very alert and touchy about his ears. They sent him home with amoxicillin, novox and another ear drop solution MBD if I remember correctly. After a week worth of these meds he is completely deaf. I took him straight back to the hospital and the doctor says his ears are now clear and he can see all the way to his clean ear drum. I was now given the steroid Prednisone to give him for ten days. We have about finished this round of meds with no improvement. He has become clumsy now knocking things over, falling off of things somewhat disoriented at times and very clingy. He has also began this deep heavy panting just randomly. The doctor now says it must be something inner ear and to take him to the university if Auburn to have their ear specialist look at him. What the heck is going on. He could hear quite well upon taking him to the doctor. I am at a loss I was petting him in the rear in which he loves and now when I touch him he tries to bite like he is confused. He has never bit me in nearly 11 years of ownership this dog is like my son and is just like me he normally wants to do everything that I do whether it is working on a car and he bring a wrench to me or if I go somewhere he is the first in the car not so much anymore. Heck 7 years ago we both had knee surgery together the same week us both sitting on the couch together with our knee and leg wrapped and propped up. I am dying inside and just want him fixed. Can anyone fix him? Please help he is all I have. My only family and my only friend. Jon

    • Posted October 15, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Dear Jon, I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Boots problems. The behavioral aggression and panting that you are seeing in Mr. Boots is likely a side effect of the steroids and should go away when the steroids wear off. As for the hearing loss, I need more information- his age, the ingredients in the ear medications that were used (they are listed on the labels) and how much prednisone he is on, including any medications given by injection. It is possible that the tympanic membranes (ear drums) were damaged, ruptured (broken) when he was first treated and the medication may have damaged his internal ears. I would highly recommend a consult with a veterinary neurologist or another veterinarian who will take a good look at the tympanic membranes (ear drums). If he has indeed, permanently lost his hearing, I can give you some references on how to better communicate with him. He will still be a wonderful companion as dogs adapt to adverse circumstances in their lives much better than we do. Please let me know more information and how things turn out. Teri Byrd DVM

  33. Jon Brown
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    On Sept 30th Mr.Boots was given epic optic in his ears along with MBD Otic then a shot of Baytric at the vet. Sent home with amoxicillin and more MBD Otic as well as Novox to be given for a week. On October 5 th he was given .25 mg of prednisone to be given for 10 days. As well as Lasix to be started on day 5 PRN due to a scale 4 Murmer to see if it would pep him up any as he has been really lazy depressed and just not acting as normal. He has had this Murmer for many years and has been at a 4 for about 6 years. Boots is a bit overweight at 11 lbs and he is 11 years old.

    • Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Hello Jon, I would highly recommend making an appointment with another general practice veterinarian or a neurological specialist. They will need to examine his ears, heart and adjust his medications and work up these additional problems. I realize that many people think that veterinary services are over priced but the costs involved in owning a clinic, maintaining salaries for employees and equipment and upkeep are very expensive and it is challenging to make a living at it. I wish you and Mr. Boots the best of luck with finding the right fit for you. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  34. Jon Brown
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Part 2 me boots. After looking at the bottle of prednisone it says 5mg not .25
    Thank you.

  35. Jon Brow.
    Posted October 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Dr.Teri Byrd please respond on Mr.Boots. He has now began tugging at his ears again and inside ears feel wet to my touch just within the inside lap of his hear I feel as I massage his ears as he is having the ear itching fit. My vet the vet hospital has told me to find a new vet and they will fax his records as they can do nothing more. Although they sure will take my 125.00 each visit which has been many times this month. I need some direction please. Thanks in advance.

  36. Posted October 23, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Dear Dr. Byrd,
    A week ago my 11yr old chocolate lab, Abby, became deaf. I’ve read ever blog on every site that pops up in a google search that relates to hearing loss in dogs that I can find. I understand she’s getting older, and hearing loss is normal, but unlike a lot of dog owners, Abby comes with me everyday to work or wherever else. She has a second home set up in the back of my truck, with a bed and water, all under a topper cover, protected if it rains. And I feel I am very much in-tune with her behaviors and senses, and am quite confident she was a long long ways from being close to deaf. She had shown signs of minor hearing loss, but I would test her constantly to see how good her hearing actually was. On the way home from work we stopped to site our guns in for the upcoming hunting season. I left Abby in her spot in the back of the truck, under the topper, to keep her safe from line of fire, and noise….or so I thought. I did leave the back window open for her, as it was warm out with a nice breeze. We were approx. six to ten feet away when we shot, six total shots. Two hours later I noticed she was completely deaf, and still is a week and a half later. The only thing I can think of is by having the topper window open, that it increased the pressure/decibel/percussion? I’m just so surprised as so many dogs are around gun fire and hunting situations all the time, and I even tried to shield her from it. I took her to the vet rite away the next morning, her ears were clean, ear drums not ruptured or showing signs of problems. She’s never had an ear infection, or dirty ears, and has spent more time in the water in her life than I can explain.
    I guess I’m wondering if you have any suggestions or tips to help regain her hearing? The vet just said since she has no sign of damage, she has a 50/50 chance, only time will tell. I’ve read that some people claimed to have had luck with certain vitamins. Any help, advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    • Posted October 23, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Dear Josh, So sorry to hear about your dog, I just had a client who had the exact same thing happen to his labrador. Here is my reply to him:I hope by the time this reaches you that the hearing has returned in your dogs ears. Although it is impossible to predict, due to the variability of the possible damage done, the first 48 hours to 1 week tend to be the most important time to observe changes.

      The gun you describe probably is within the 150 decibel range and is therefore, one of the highest decibel sounds a dog/human can be exposed to and obviously will do the most damage. Normal conversation is at about 60 decibels and music played loudly is at about 100 decibels. It also depends on how far away he was when exposed, ideally should have been at least 32 meters.

      Sometimes part of the damage is due to the rupture of the tympanic membrane (not in this case), but more often, the damage is done to a more inner part of the ear- specifically the hair cells which are responsible for transmitting the noise from electrical signals into sound interpreted by the brain. The other thing that can be happening is a very loud tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which can subside somewhat over time or you can adjust your hearing somewhat.

      You can find out more about this through the National Institute of Health who does studies on noise-induced hearing loss in people and has referrals to other sources for understanding noise induced hearing loss.

      I consulted an internal medicine specialist and he said,”Sound levels above 120-140 dB can cause acute hearing loss. Shotguns average about 150 dB, which is why people wear hearing protection at gun ranges. Noise-induced hearing loss will sometimes improve or resolve over 1-2 weeks, which is the case in a lot of cases I’ve seen. But it can also be permanent.They do make hearing protection for hunting dogs.”

      Another specialist who studies hearing said,”Conductive deafness, caused by outer or middle ear obstruction, may be corrected, whereas sensorineural deafness cannot. Most deafness in dogs is congenital sensorineural hereditary deafness, associated with the genes for white pigment: piebald or merle. The genetic cause has not yet been identified. Dogs with blue eyes have a greater likelihood of hereditary deafness than brown-eyed dogs. Other common forms of sensorineural deafness include presbycusis, ototoxicity, noise-induced hearing loss, otitis interna, and anesthesia. Definitive diagnosis of deafness requires brainstem auditory evoked response testing.”

      A veterinary neurologist’s opinion was: “With acute noise trauma, temporary hearing loss tends to improve within a few days to a week or so. ”

      Based on the information I consulted I would say that if your dog does not seem to improve after 2-3 weeks, the hearing loss is more likely to be permanent.

      I appreciate the level of accountability you are taking for this problem and if the hearing loss is permanent there are many sources to understand how you can help your dog live without hearing or with diminished hearing. Here is one good link: here’s another: and another:

      I’m assuming that your dog is a labrador or setter and as you know these are tough, high energy, loving, dogs who need lots of exercise and mental stimulation so be sure to find a way to adapt to his new level of hearing. They are very smart dogs and adapt easily to changes in their physical health. I have dealt with many, many deaf dogs over the years and I have seen all of them lead productive, satisfying lives when their owners go the extra mile to figure out how to train them. One of my clients has had a completely deaf dog for about 8 years now and the dog goes hiking, swimming and climbing with her often and does great.

      The other good news is that our dogs immediately forgive us for everything that happens in their lives. They are the most forgiving beings on earth. So know that your dog has already adapted to whatever level of hearing he has and has long forgiven you. He just wants to be included in your life, so find a way to keep him safe while you are doing your regular activities and continue to let him be involved. It would be leaving him home alone that would hurt his feelings.

      I hope this helps, please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

    • Posted October 23, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Dr. Byrd,
      Thank you so much for your timely, detailed response. I really appreciate your thorough effort. I’ll certainly keep you posted, hopefully on some good news. Unfortunately the gun was a rifle, and not a shotgun, which I’m sure are even louder and is not help for our problem.
      With fingers crossed,
      thanks again,

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