Dog Goes Deaf After Ear Infection

A dog's complicated ear problem will require a specialist.

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Q. I have a 5-year-old mixed-breed dog who has had severe ear infections since birth. Each time he has had an ear flush and medication. He recently had a left ear infection with the same treatment. He awoke from the anesthesia just fine and actually better than ever before. Six hours later, he was severely ill, and I thought I would lose him. Now, he cannot hear out of either ear. Was it the sedation? We can’t tell if his eardrums are ruptured because my vet doesn't want to take the chance of another sedation. My vet is at a loss as to why he can’t hear anything from either ear. He's on antibiotics and seems to have pain in both ears. I’m at my wit’s end as to what to do next.

A. This sounds like a nightmare case. Your dog is suddenly deaf in both ears after being treated for an ear infection.
 
It's very possible that your dog’s eardrums were both already ruptured from the infections, and when medication was put in the ear it went down into the inner ear, where it can be toxic. Very few medications are safe to put into a dog’s ear if the eardrums are ruptured.
 
It can be difficult to determine if the eardrum is intact if the ear canals are very inflamed and narrowed. At this point, I would recommend asking about a referral to a specialist — inner ear disease can be very challenging to treat. Over time, the eardrum should grow back, but there may be some damage to the delicate mechanisms of the inner ear.
 
Hopefully your dog will regain full function of his ears. Some dogs have such severe problems with recurring ear infections that they require radical surgery to remove the entire ear canal. This may ultimately be the best solution for your dog since he's already deaf.
 
You may want to ask your veterinarian about prescribing a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to help control pain and swelling in your dog’s ear.
 
Good luck with this difficult problem.

Jon Geller, DVM

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Martha   dallas, Texas

7/29/2013 9:31:05 PM

My vet treated my dog with a steroid in her ear for recurring yeast infections. Shortly after, lost all her hearing she's only 9. My 10 year old dog is deaf too and has had treatments for ear infections. I wish I had done some research before just becoming at the mercy of the vet. Next dogs I have will go to a holistic vet. I have read that vinegar and natural products can clear yeast infections. I hate that my babies are deaf. So sad.

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Marsha   Poplarville, Mississippi

7/15/2013 1:08:36 PM

took my dog to vet for shots. He said ears were infected. He sedated her, put in a hot wax with steroid/antibiotics. Told me she would be hard of hearing first week until the wax drains out. bring her back for a f/u visit 2 weeks. Returned, said still some redness. wax again. So after 4 bouts of hot wax, involving 3 sedations, I took her back today as she is not hearing well at all. Asked vet if there could still be some wax in there.? She didn't get her hearing back since last visit/wax 3 weeks
ago.
He is going to check her further today, no more hot wax. Said he hoped her ear condition didn't cause damage to the structure of the ear. How do I say she was hearing awesome until the wax treatments began? She never had one infection in her previous 7 years of age.

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Evie   Middletown, Kentucky

4/11/2013 3:16:15 PM

I don't believe it was the antibiotic. I think it was the Bordatello vaccine. We vaccinated our 11 year old Doberman because we found a good kennel for when we occasionally needed to be away a couple of days. We had the same experience..our dog suddenly went deaf and began to experience signs of Wobblers type symptoms. She has gone downhill ever since that vaccination. If bordatello disease can cause deafness, then the vaccine can too. It's been sad to see her go from being perfectly healthy to very soon, we will have to put her down...all in less than 6 months.

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Mel   Tampa, Florida

12/27/2012 6:46:44 AM

My Sheltie of age 12 was diagnosed with double ear infections, I was sent home with instructions to flush her ears once a day and add ear drops called mometamax. By the second day I noticed she was not responding when called or being greeted. I took her back and they said this can happen but very rare, she had has an ear infection once in her life back in 2007. They said she may gain her hearing back but to date she has not. I know dogs with cope with changes since I know several blind dogs but there should be some kind of warning.

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