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Dogs' Hearing: Understanding How They Hear and the Causes of Hearing Loss

Dogs are known for their keen sense of hearing, which is one of their most important senses. Dogs have a much greater range of hearing than humans, and they are able to detect sounds that are too high-pitched for us to hear. However, like humans, dogs can experience hearing loss, which can have a significant impact on their quality of life. In this article, we will explore how dogs hear and the reasons why they may experience hearing loss.

How Dogs Hear:

Like humans, dogs hear through their ears. However, the structure of their ears is different, and they are able to pick up a wider range of sounds than we can. Dogs have three parts to their ears: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.

The outer ear is the part that we can see, and it is made up of the pinna (the flap of skin and cartilage that sticks out from the side of the head) and the ear canal. The pinna helps to direct sound into the ear canal, where it is amplified and directed towards the middle ear.

The middle ear contains the eardrum and three tiny bones called the ossicles. When sound waves hit the eardrum, it vibrates and sends these vibrations to the ossicles. The ossicles then amplify the vibrations and send them to the inner ear.

The inner ear is where the magic happens. It contains the cochlea, which is a fluid-filled structure lined with tiny hair cells. When the amplified vibrations reach the cochlea, they cause the hair cells to move, which sends electrical signals to the brain. It is these signals that the brain interprets as sound.

Reasons for Hearing Loss in Dogs:

There are several reasons why a dog may experience hearing loss. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Aging: Just like humans, dogs can experience age-related hearing loss. This is known as presbycusis and it is a gradual loss of hearing that occurs as the dog gets older.

  2. Genetics: Some breeds of dog are more prone to hearing loss than others. For example, Dalmatians are known to be susceptible to deafness.

  3. Ear Infections: Ear infections can cause inflammation and damage to the ear, which can result in hearing loss. Chronic ear infections can be particularly damaging.

  4. Trauma: Trauma to the head or ears can cause hearing loss in dogs. This can be the result of a car accident, a fall, or a dog fight.

  5. Exposure to Loud Noises: Exposure to loud noises over a prolonged period of time can cause damage to the hair cells in the cochlea, which can lead to hearing loss. This is why it is important to protect your dog's ears when they are exposed to loud noises, such as fireworks or concerts.

  6. Medications: Certain medications can be ototoxic, which means they can cause damage to the ear and result in hearing loss. Some antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and diuretics can have this effect.


Hearing is an important sense for dogs, as it allows them to communicate, navigate their environment, and respond to potential threats. Understanding how dogs hear and the reasons why they may experience hearing loss can help you to identify potential problems and seek treatment if necessary. If you suspect that your dog is experiencing hearing loss, it is important to speak to your veterinarian, who can help to diagnose the problem and recommend appropriate treatment.

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