Have you ever had a deaf Chihuahua? Unlike humans, deafness is a little harder to deal with since dogs can’t talk. Fortunately, dogs will pick up cues from us and can even learn a type of sign language. But, deafness in Chihuahuas is a little different.
Deafness is defined as partial or complete hearing loss. Levels of hearing impairment vary from mild to total loss of hearing. Dogs of any breed can be affected by hearing loss or deafness from various causes. But, species with white pigmentation are most often affected. The Chihuahua is among the dog breeds that present congenital (at birth) deafness (Strain, G.M.)
Causes of Deafness in Chihuahuas
• 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 identified in dog breeds with white pigmentation and blue eye color; however, albinism is not usually associated with deafness.
• Obstructive Deafness. In these cases, deafness or hearing loss results from obstruction of the sound transmission due to occlusion of the outer or middle ear. Otitis of the middle or external ear can cause an excessive build-up of earwax that occludes the outer and/or middle ear.
• Age-related Hearing Loss. As dogs age, they are expected to lose their hearing progressively, which is not related to trauma, genetics, or other diseases. This occurs gradually. But, most owners perceive hearing loss as an acute event because most animals only show signs of deafness when they completely lose their hearing ability.
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• Toxicity. 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. Moreover, some drugs that may cause hearing issues are aminoglycoside antibiotics, tetracyclines, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, cisplatin, vinblastine, vincristine, furosemide, benzalkonium chloride, digoxin, insulin, potassium bromide, prednisolone, and salicylates.
• Other Causes. Exposure to intense sounds may cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Other causes of deafness are trauma, infection, anoxia, and anesthesia.
Signs of Deafness in Chihuahuas
- He or she is unresponsiveness to everyday sounds
- Your Chihuahua turns the wrong way when you call him or her
- He or she does not wake up when there is a loud noise
- Constantly shakes his or her head
- Your dog doesn’t respond or seems confused when given familiar vocal commands.
- Excessive barking
- Your dog has itchy, painful ears
- A smelly discharge comes from his or her ears (could be a sign of an ear infection)
If you identify any of the above signs, you can test your dog’s hearing by padding behind and clapping once loudly to check his/her response. Also, some deafness present in the dog at birth is irreversible, and these dogs should not be bred. But of course, they still can make great pets.
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.
Preventing Deafness in Chihuahuas
Dogs that are genetically predisposed to deafness should not be bred. Appropriate ear hygiene and care are essential to prevent hearing loss. When your dog is groomed, clean the external ear (only the visible part of the ear) using a small gauze or cotton ball and mineral oil to prevent excessive earwax buildup. Whenever you visit your veterinarian, make sure that they check your Chihuahuas’ ears.
How Can Pet Parents Help Their Dogs With Hearing Loss?
- Train deaf dogs to understand hand signals.
- Use a flashlight or laser penlight to get your dog’s attention.
- Let your dog know that you are entering or leaving a room by tapping him/her gently on the back or shoulder.
- Never let a hearing-impaired dog go unleashed outside the house because they won’t be able to hear traffic.
So, have you had to deal with deafness in your Chihuahua or any other dog you have had? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and let us know!