Deafness in dogs is a serious problem. At the UQ Small Animal Clinic, we can investigate sensorineural and conductive causes of canine and feline deafness. We use brainstem auditory evoked response to air-conducted and bone-conducted sound. These are simple short tests.
The most common cause of sensorineural deafness is the inherited absence of cochlear hair cells. This problem has been reported in up to 42 breeds of dogs, particularly Dalmatians, Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs and Bull Terriers. It is also reported in a range of cat breeds.
Conductive deafness is often due to changes in the external or middle ear. These changes are detectable with air and bone-conducted BAER and can be further investigated through radiographs or computed tomography if otitis media or tumours are suspected.
The BAER tests are easy to perform, minimally invasive and can be used to screen litters from six weeks of age. Mild sedation may be necessary to perform the test. Certificates and copies of the BAER tracings are issued to breeders and owners. In future, blood sampling for DNA sequencing work may be undertaken.