Is Your Dog Losing His Hearing?

One sign of your dog aging which can be very upsetting if you don’t fully appreciate what is truly happening is an increasing inattentiveness and apparent loss of obedience training. When you call to him, your dog seems to be ignoring you, or else he responds so slowly that you tempted to punish him for disobedience. Nothing of the sort should be done!

Your older dog is, more likely than not, developing a gradual hearing loss. Both the loudness and the range of sounds are being reduced and account for what seems to be inattentiveness. These same changes, plus slight alterations in the nerve pathways leading to, through, and from the brain, account for his noticeably slower response once he does finally pay attention to you. To punish him, or to subject him to obedience retraining, would be a cruel thing which could easily break his spirit and build a wall of distrust and fear between the two of you.

It is quite easy to conduct an objective test of Duke’s hearing yourself. Be sure the room is quiet and there are no distracting sounds, lights, or physical vibrations. While he is resting quietly but awake, stand about five feet behind him, being sure he cannot see you. Loudly clap your hands together as you watch his head and ears. If his ears perk up and he turns to see where the sound is coming from, he can still hear quite well. If there is little or no response, there is a hearing impairment to some degree. You should then try the same test a bit closer, again being sure that he neither sees you nor feels the vibrations or air currents created by the movement of your hands.

Assuming he does respond adequately, you may try again with not so loud a clap or by snapping your fingers, progressively decreasing the volume of the sounds. One caution; do not do these tests in rapid succession, as louder sounds may temporarily diminish response to succeeding quieter ones. Allow at least fifteen to thirty seconds to elapse between each decreased degree of sound. By means of such testing, you can establish the approximate level of your dog’s hearing ability as well as monitor it periodically to detect any further hearing deficiency. Keep in mind, however, that there can be a considerable variation in his ability to hear spoken sounds of the differing pitch. Therefore his response may be quite different, depending on whether the speaker is a woman or man, child, or adult.

Question and Answers: Part 2

What can be done for a very old dog with severe dysplasia problems? First, the condition would have to be evaluated through X-rays. The symptoms may be due to a neurological problem and not a bone problem. If surgery is indicated, and the dog is checked out as a good surgical risk, operating can prove very helpful in alleviating the pain. Excellent results have also been obtained using vitamin C therapy.

What is the incidence of cancer in dogs? Cancer incidence is low as compared with humans. Even when there exists a lipoma, a benign fatty tumor, or breast tumors that are diagnosed as malignant, these do not precipitate a spreading malignancy or death. Occasionally dogs will have a liver or spleen tumor that spreads to the lungs. Such dogs can bleed to death because the tumors bleed, or the malignancy can cause sufficient damage to the liver to cause death. Fibrosis of the heart and kidneys, which means a loss of elasticity in those organs, is far and away the most common disease-induced cause of death. Cancer affects more cats than dogs, but the reasons for this are somewhat obscure. Much can be done to control and prevent cancer in dogs.

Is the older dog more affected by heat prostration? Yes, an older dog’s thermostat does not work as well, so he will be more affected by extremes of heat and cold. If a dog has a bad heart or bad kidneys, he will be more affected than the healthier dog. However, if you were to put a two-year-old dog and an eleven-year-old, both in good physical condition, into a sun-baked car, they will both suffer from equal severity and trauma.

Is it advantageous for an older dog to wear protective clothing of any kind? Wearing apparel we would define as being generally superfluous. However, there are some good reasons for wearing clothing on certain occasions.

Are older dogs subject to high blood pressure? If a dog has a bad heart, he usually has low blood pressure because he is hampered by an inefficient pump and poor circulation. This is why a dog with heart problems often also has kidney problems. You must maintain adequate pressure and blood supply to organs in order to maximize kidney efficiency.

Should an owner take his own dog’s temperature? No! In consideration of safety factors such as thermometer breakage and absorbing the thermometer up into the rectum, as well as not being able to diagnose the symptoms concurrent to the temperature (which at 101° to 102° is normal in a dog), you should not to take your own dog’s temperature, but to call the vet without delay if you suspect illness.

Question and Answers: Part 3

Can older dogs develop cataracts? Yes, but cataracts can also be seen in younger dogs.

Do mixed breeds live longer than pure breeds? Researchers have not found that longevity differs greatly between mixed and purebred dogs.

Are there any kinds of parasites that would particularly affect older dogs? If an older dog gets hookworms, it might affect him more. In general, it all depends upon the dog’s state of well-being.

Are organ transplants performed in older dogs? These operations are performed experimentally. But practically, the cost would be prohibitive, not to mention the problem of availability of organs.

Do older dogs shed more? No, they may even shed less. But they may develop more seborrhea.

What dog diseases are communicable to humans? Ringworm, rabies, sarcoptic mange, ticks, can all be communicated to humans. Incidentally, ringworm is a fungus disease of the skin, and, as such, it is a misnomer. In the case of sarcoptic mange, when you kill it on the dog, the human symptoms will disappear.

Does an aging dog become senile? In general, no, unless there are other circumstances involved, such as a brain tumor.

Do dogs utilize their full capacity for intelligence? We know, and most people are amazed to discover, that a dog has a tremendous capacity for learning, regardless of age. This potential is seldom tapped by most dog owners.

Are there special food considerations for diabetic dogs? Yes. In general, you should not be using the semi-moist packaged foods for a diabetic dog, because of the sugar they contain that moderate in whole grains, and high in high biological-value dairy products.

Can you tell a dog’s age by the condition of its teeth? No. Some two-year-old dogs could chew on rocks and have teeth that look like the dog is fifteen. Others retain the shape and color through very advanced years.

Is there any age beyond which you should not purchase a dog? You should try to find out why the dog is being sold at an advanced age. If he is aggressive, you likely will have a problem. But if you are satisfied that the reasons are valid as to why the dog is being given up, then, beyond the fact that you will have a shorter life together, the love that passes between you will be just as strong and meaningful as if it had been a complete life span.