Questions for Dr. Shawn - Hearing Loss and Deafness
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"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"My older cat Jeff seems to be losing his hearing. Is there anything to reverse hearing loss in older pets? His regular veterinarian said we would just have to live with this."
”I get this question a lot. Hearing loss in older cats and dogs does occur as a normal part of aging in some pets, similar to the situation in some older people. Basically the cells of the inner ear start to degenerate, and sound transmission via the auditory nerves decreases. A special test called a brain evoked auditory response test can be performed to confirm deafness, but in most cases simply observing the pets response to various noises is enough for owners and veterinarians to determine if hearing loss is present.
Having said all of this, I would first make sure that Jeff does not have any diseases of the external ear. If his ear canals are full of debris, simply cleaning the ears (under anesthesia) will restore his hearing. If his ears appear normal on physical examination, there is one other possibility. Some older pets with cognitive disorder will show hearing loss as one of their signs. Supplying these pets with choline (I use Cholodin) and antioxidants (I like Proanthozone) can help these pets. Otherwise it may be that Jeff’s hearing loss is simply related to aging; while there are hearing aids for pets, most owners choose to simply live with (and keep inside!) pets with hearing loss.”
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