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Thread: Sudden hearing loss

  1. #1
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    Default Sudden hearing loss

    Over the past week, my husband and I have noticed that Sophie's hearing has gone. She doesn't hear normal voice volume; only loud noises. Sophie isn't quite six years old, so it's not old-age-related deafness.

    She has no PSOM symptoms listed at cavalierhealth.org and otherwise is a very happy, healthy dog.
    Sophie had an excellent health check-up back in June.

    So, I am relying on the collective wisdom here at CavalierTalk. Hubby wants me to take her to the vet for an exam. Outside of the inconvenience of having a deaf dog at such a young age, what could a veterinarian do for it?

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    Based upon her age, this sounds like a case of progressive hearing loss. It probably was not as rapid as you think. See http://www.cavalierhealth.org/deafness.htm

    Is she your only dog?
    Rod Russell

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    Yes, she is our only dog. I read that page when reading about PSOM, and told my husband last night how the BAER test doesn't cover the human voice level. This is why I doubt it's worth having her examined. I've also thought this might be the/one of the reasons her breeder has stopped breeding (she can no longer be found).

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    My Oliver started to go seriously deaf at the age of 6; a BAER test confirmed that he was very deaf on one side - so, for example, if that side was uppermost when he slept he wouldn't hear me coming into the room. Another test 2 years later showed that he couldn't hear anything below 9 decibels, so effectively he is totally deaf unless I really yell at him. He obeys hand signals for come, go down, wait and other basics, and can sometimes get disoriented if he loses sight of me when off-lead on a walk, so I need to keep a sharp eye on him, but otherwise his deafness seems to make little difference - though it does deprive a dog of one of their major ways of experiencing the world, and as I can no longer talk to Oliver I try to handle him more so that we still contact each other. This sort of progressive hearing loss seems to be common in Cavaliers, but I don't think it is hereditary, so I wouldn't think it had anything to do with your dog's breeder giving up.

    Kate, Oliver (now 13) and Aled

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    Quote Originally Posted by waldor View Post
    Yes, she is our only dog. I read that page when reading about PSOM, and told my husband last night how the BAER test doesn't cover the human voice level. This is why I doubt it's worth having her examined. I've also thought this might be the/one of the reasons her breeder has stopped breeding (she can no longer be found).
    I think maybe you should get a second one. Deaf dogs get essential information from the non-deaf ones. We've had enough deaf cavaliers to know to start training hand signals to all our cavaliers when they are puppies. I competed a deaf cavalier in agility trials without saying a word out loud to him. It was eerie to many spectators because handlers tend to be shouting at their dogs the entire time they are in the ring. I finally had to start talking to him anyway, because apparently in the AKC, deafness is a disqualifier for agility, and the judges were getting suspicious. So I would shout out commands like "left" and "right" just before I knew he was going to go left or right anyway, and after my runs I would be asked how I taught him those commands.
    Rod Russell

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    Sadly Cavaliers do seem to suffer with early onset deafness. Mostly they cope incredibly well, and easily switch to hand signals for commands. Obviously you have to be aware of any dangers when you are out and about, but hopefully there are places where Sophie could still enjoy some off lead exercise?

    You could get her BAER tested, but I suspect it will only confirm what you already know...

    It is with getting the vet to check inside her ears, just to make sure there isn't something like a build up of wax causing hearing difficulties.

    If they have a doggie companion, that can be very helpful, as Rod says, they can build a very special bind and the hearing dog is a great support to the deaf dog. However I'm not sure it's sufficient justification for adding to the family, unless you were already thinking of doing that anyway.

    You will probably find that Sophie wants more physical contact with you.
    Nicki and the Cavalier Clan Our photos www.scotlandimagery.com
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    Just seconding some of the previous comments -- deafness is SOOOOOO common in the breed. It's pretty clear there are at least two causes, PSOM being one and some sort of inherited condition as well. Every single cavalier I have had -- 7 now -- have been at least part deaf by about 6 or 7. Some had PSOM (but no symptoms for it necessarily; it is extremely common but doesn't always -- maybe even often does not -- cause symptoms (other than deafness in some dogs...). It shows up on at least half of MRIs as far as I recall from past discussions with neurologists.

    I also agree that it probably wasn't a sudden change -- dogs read body language so well that people tend to only notice a dog is deaf when it isn't waking when they come in a room, etc. They know their people so well, and certain routines etc that until they REALLY cannot hear much, we don;t tend to notice a slow decline.

    Some level of deafness was a very common finding in cavaliers tested -- think it was an Ohio State study?

    Most dogs do better with hand signals than verbal commands anyway -- used to be in the olden days that classes always taught a hand and voice command. It isn't hard to teach a hand signal to actions the dog already knows, but it is useful for all cavalier owners, I think, to link a hand sign to every command their dog knows while the dog can still hear .

    My Jaspar has been totally deaf -- cannot seem to hear a thing -- for about two years now; I first noticed he was getting deaf around age 6 as well. Most people have no idea at all that he is deaf -- he is a bright dog and always checking in with me so tends to be more alert and responsive than the ones that can hear!!

    This is a great website on deaf dogs and hand signs etc: http://deafdogs.org/

    Owners do need to be sure their dog's always on a lead on walks if it tends to wander and lose sight of it people; and of course always around traffic. I've no doubt one of the reasons people often say cavaliers have no 'road sense' (a kind of false concept anyway; at best, a risky one!) is due to some degree of hearing loss in most of them as they age.

    On my very deaf dogs, I add a second dog tag to the collar stating they are deaf and to please put them on a lead if found and call me.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Karlin and Rod - Yes, you are correct that this did not happen overnight. In talking with my husband, we think it has happened over the past several weeks, but with a profound sudden progression in the past week. We both compared notes, and definitely in the past week we have both noticed no response to calling her, etc.

    Sophie is never, ever off lead outdoors, so no worries there. I will have to tell her boarding kennel, as she joins their daycare/day school while boarding there.

    Another question --- can this have an emotional impact on a dog? Today (and never before today), Sophie has been very clingy. Stuck to my side. Not letting me get out of her sight. She even tried to slip out the door with us (something she has never done!) when we were going to church this morning. I had to stop her.

    Her demeanor and behavior today make me think that SHE has finally realized something is wrong, and that she's disturbed by it. I've not done anything differently with my behavior, so I doubt I've triggered anything. I just wonder if she has finally noticed and is worried.

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    Sophie knows a few hand signals when she was obedience trained. Looks like she will be learning a few more. Yesterday, I found that site you linked, via the cavalierhealth.org site. I"ve already ordered two books on the topic, since we'll be living with a deaf Sophie for many years.

    Karlin - you mention one of your dogs had PSOM but no symptoms? Did you have it treated?

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    Oliver too tends to ask for more hands on contact, though this is partly that he is now old. I'm not sure that this is worry - perhaps a more practical response that they are going to have to rely more on humans to make up the deficiency caused by loss of hearing, and that they miss the contact provided by us talking to them. Oliver has always been a very independent dog and his deafness really made very little difference until the last two years or so - and he will still see my 'come' signal and turn away so that he can't see it, in order to sniff a few more blades of grass in the park! We just have to keep each other in sight.

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

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