You notice that your elderly dog doesn’t seem to obey voice commands to “come” anymore, especially when she has here back to you. Is she being stubborn, is she deaf or a bit of both? It is common for older dogs (9+ years) to start to experience hearing loss that progresses to near deafness in some very old dogs. But that is not because of changes in the ears. Even dogs with chronic ear infections seldom lose hearing due to their ears problems. Old age hearing loss occurs in the brain. And you can do something to prevent it or slow it down.
The Cause of Deafness in Dogs
The “hearing areas” of the brain are very sensitive to age related inflammatory reactions in the brain. Without reason, normal brain tissue is treated by the immune system as if it were a foreign invader. This sets off chemical reactions that result in an inflammatory response that eventually causes plaques or scar tissue replacing functional brain cells. As aging progresses the plaques replace more and more functional brain cells and the ability to hear slowly decreases, sometimes ending in total deafness.
How Can Deafness Be Prevented in Old Dogs?
There is no way to stop the aging process but the inflammatory reaction in the brain can be reduced. Studies show there are many supplements that can reduce inflammation in the brain and protect brain cells.
Omega-3 Fats: DHA and EPA fatty acids in fish oil are strongly anti-inflammatory. These oils easily enter the brain which is also very high in fat. They have been found to help slow plaque formation.
Antioxidant Vitamins: Vitamin C and E are potent antioxidants that decrease cell destruction caused by inflammation. Studies in humans and dogs strongly support their use in preventing hearing loss. In my veterinary career, I have seen some of my dog patients actually regain some hearing loss after adding these vitamins to their diet.
Curcumin: Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and curry. In its purified form it is also a strong anti-inflammatory. Studies in humans have found that curcumin reduces the plaque formation in the brain that causes Alzheimers’s disease. These are the same type of inflammatory plaques that cause hearing loss.
You can make a difference in the quality of life of your geriatric dog. Contact us for more information on preventing hearing loss and other age related problems in your dog.