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A UConn hearing expert has adapted human audiology technology to dogs and opened what may be the only site in the United States that offers hearing loss testing for canines.
A young dog is held by its owner while its hearing is tested at the bioacoustics lab in the George White Building.
In the bioacoustics lab located in the basement of the George White Building, Scheifele tests the dogs’ hearing using computers that record the electrical activity of the brain. Scheifele, who is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Communications Sciences’ disorders division, studied human auditory brainstem responses and adapted the test for canines, modifying the equipment to fit floppy ears and increased hearing range. The test works by placing small speakers into the animal’s ear, then measuring a change in its brain waves when a noise is produced.
Earphones appropriate for dog ears, as well as electrodes fixed on the scalp, produce a series of clicks, and the dog is wired to a computer that gives a read-out of its brainwaves. The dog’s reaction to the click happens subconsciously within a fraction of a second of the noise.
Just as in humans, auditory brainstem response tests performed on dogs can detect hearing loss, not just whether the animal can hear. Congenital deafness (when a dog is born deaf) is not an uncommon problem for purebred dogs. Scheifele believes that auditory brainstem response tests could eventually help eradicate congenital deafness in dogs. The test could also be used to check guide dogs and police dogs, so that trainers can be sure there is no hearing loss before money is spent on training. Most dog owners who suspect hearing loss in their pets learn that veterinarians currently have no way to assess deafness. To fully assess whether a dog is deaf requires the use of highly sophisticated equipment that most vets do not have in their offices. Scheifele and several graduate students who staff the bioacoustics lab have tested dogs from across New England and the east coast.
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You should clean your dog’s ears regularly to prevent bacteria buildup and possible ear infections. Never use peroxide or any household product meant for cleaning surfaces in your home as they can cause pain or damage to your dog’s ear. The best way to clean your dog’s ears is to use cotton balls or Q-Tip swabs soaked in an ear cleaner purchased from the pet store. If your dog doesn’t like to have its ears cleaned you should use treats as a reward for allowing you to clean its ears. Ear cleaners purchased from a pet store are designed to be safe and gentle on your pet’s ears.
Some dog owners use a homemade ear cleaner made by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol in a squirt bottle. Be very careful when pouring any fluid in the dog’s ears because you could damage its ear canals, leading to hearing problems or complete deafness if you are careless.
In these difficult economic times many dog owners are finding that they sometimes need help paying vet bills. If you need spay and neuter services for your dog, most ASPCA branches often sponsor low cost spay and neuter clinics. Many vaccination clinics set up special events during the year and offer free or inexpensive vaccines for your dog. If your dog needs medical treatment or emergency care and you’re unable to afford such care, there are charitable organizations across the country who work with caring veterinarians to provide medical care for dogs who would otherwise go untreated.
United Animal Nations which provides assistance to animal rescue organizations and helps victims of disasters, domestic violence and foreclosures to care for their pets. Help-A-Pet assists physically and mentally challenged individuals, senior citizens and children of the working poor to provide their pets with lifesaving veterinary care. Labrador Life Line helps individuals and rescuers care for Labrador Retrievers by providing medical assistance, supplies and transportation to foster homes and permanent homes. The Pet Fund provides financial assistance to pet owners to help pay for medical and preventive care of a dog.
Another source of help is one of the many community food banks that accept and distribute pet food to help owners feed their pets. Getting help with vet bills when you truly need it should never, and I mean never, cause you to be embarrassed. Chronic ear infections in dogs should be treated as soon as they are detected, because left untreated, they can result in permanent damage and hearing loss.

An inner ear infection in a dog is usually caused by the spread of an existing outer ear infection into the inner ear. Dogs with droopy ears are more prone to developing ear infections than are dogs with perky, upright ears. A veterinarian can diagnose an inner ear infection in a dog using x-rays of the head and an examination with an otoscope, an instrument incorporating a light and a magnifying lens used to examine the eardrum and the external canal of the ear.
The dog will have to be anesthetized to allow the vet to flush out the wax and other buildup within the ear before using the otoscope. If the inner ear infection is mild it can be treated with antibiotics administered orally or by injection.
Preventing inner ear infections requires that you feed your pet a healthy diet and see that it gets regular grooming to ward off ear infections. Older dogs health problems can start occurring as soon as a dog is eight to ten years old, depending upon the breed of the animal. Symptoms of arthritis in dogs include: weight gain not caused by excessive overeating, sleeping much more than usual, a decreased interest in playing or going on walks, favoring one leg more than the others, hesitancy climbing or going down stairs, acting less alert, having a lot of difficulty standing, and appearing to suffer from pain in the joints. If the arthritis is not severe and advanced to the point that your dog cannot walk at all without the aid of braces or a wheelchair, the best thing you can do for your pet is to put it on a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, an all-natural formula developed by a Naturopathic Doctor to heal his own dog. Older dogs are very susceptible to the development of heart disease, including heart attacks, strokes, and congestive heart failure.
Plaque deposits on a dog’s teeth can easily turn into tartar which can’t be removed by simple brushing. Some older dogs’ health problems include a lack of control over their bladder and they will urinate in the house. Dogs with ears that point straight up or those with short “perky” ears don’t have as many problems with ear infections.
Bristles that project from the tip of plants or even the grass from your lawn can easily become lodged in a dog’s ear. A common cause of problems with a dog’s ears is an allergic reaction which can be caused by ingredients in your dog’s food or environmental irritants such as pollen or dust. Injury to your dog’s ear can cause a semi-solid mass of blood to collect in the tissues of the ear (called a hematoma) and fluid to accumulate between the cartilage and the skin of the ear flap.
Certain hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism and adrenal malfunctions can also cause ear problems. In rare cases, some ear problems in dogs are hereditary such as connective tissue disorder affecting Collies and Shelties, or seborrhea which causes hair loss and scaly skin. Because the test measures brain waves, it does not rely on the dog having a conscious reaction to the noise. Our proven products will help you easily accomplish this without the use of drugs or invasive surgery.
It’s not a difficult job when you use an ear cleaning product from your local pet store or simple household products found in your home.
If the ears are not cleaned regularly, bacteria and yeast also accumulate, leading to ear infections.
To do this, pour a small amount of the ear cleaner in your dog’s ears, doing one ear at a time, then rub the base of each ear for 30 to 60 seconds. If you want to save money or would feel more comfortable knowing exactly what you were putting in your dog’s ears, you can make your own ear cleaner. Another homemade cleaner can be made by combining 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol, 2 tablespoons of boric acid and 1 tablespoon of glycerin. To prevent the solution from getting into the ear canal, cup the dog’s ear at the base and rub well. Doing this routinely will help keep your dog from developing any ear infections and you won’t have to put up with the unpleasant odor from smelly ears. Fortunately, there are programs and organizations willing to help with vet bills when money is tight. Vaccines usually dispensed at these events include Rabies, Corona, Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Leptospirosis.
The Fund also works to decrease the number of animals that end up being euthanized or surrendered to animal shelters due to preventable or treatable illnesses. Local humane societies sometimes are able to provide a list of sources for low-cost or no-cost pet food.
Minor ear infections can often be treated with medication, while severe ear infections will require medical intervention by a veterinarian. The inner ear controls a dog’s sense of balance and hearing and a dog with an inner ear infection will lose its sense of balance and all or most of its hearing.
The dark, moist environment of the inner ear can cause bacteria to multiply in the ear canal.

If the ear drum is then found to be infected, discolored and full of fluid, a definite diagnoses of an inner ear infection is assured. Early diagnosis and treatment of outer ear infections will also help prevent any inner ear infections. The most common health issues in older dogs include arthritis, heart disease, dental problems, and diabetes.
The condition can be genetic, as is the case with hip dysplasia, and it can also develop as the result of an infection or an immune disorder that affects the dog’s joints.
For over 20 years this proven formula has been bringing relief from pain and stiffness to all breeds and ages of dogs.
In addition to being caused by aging, urinating (or defecating) in the house may also be an indication of a urinary infection or some other medical condition like colitis, hormonal imbalance, kidney problems or diabetes.
Diabetes is caused by an increased level of glucose in the blood that the body is unable to properly assimilate.
If you are responsible for an older dog you need to be aware of the serious problems that can affect a dog’s health simply because it has grown old. The warm, moist environment created by the fold in the ear flap is ideal for the growth of bacteria. If you notice your dog vigorously rubbing one or both ears on the floor or carpet, it can be an indication of either an ear problem or simply the need to have its ears cleaned. This debris can wedge itself quite deeply inside the ear so you’ll need to look inside the dog’s ear with a flashlight. If you notice your dog’s ears or paws are itchy or inflamed, these are typical symptoms of an allergy. Symptoms include excessive loss of hair, poor coat condition, changes in behavior and itchy, reddened skin around the ears.
Your dog will then shake out the excess moisture and you can use a cotton ball or swab to clean the parts of the ear you can see. Use a mild soap and water or rubbing alcohol to clean the visible parts of your dog’s ears, being careful not to go deep into the ear canal.
Regardless of which mixture you choose to make, be sure you shake the squirt bottle well to mix the ingredients. When foreign objects or ear mites enter into a dog’s ear and the dog scratches that ear, you can almost be sure an infection will develop. The dog may not have an infection of the outer ear but if it has an inner ear infection, it will have an outer ear infection as well. For chronic or more severe infections, the middle ear has to be flushed out and then treated. An older dog’s diet needs to be low in carbohydrates and fats, and it needs a moderate exercise program so it will be less likely to develop a heart condition. A dog with periodontal disease is susceptible to other internal health problems because bacteria can easily enter the dog’s system through its receding gums. If it’s an infection and confined to only one ear, your dog will tilt its head in an attempt to equalize pressure between the ears.
Hematomas of the ear should be drained and surgically corrected by your vet because your dog’s ear will be permanently disfigured if not treated surgically. You’ll know when your dog’s ears are in need of cleaning because it will start rubbing its head on your rug or floor to relieve the itch or pain.
The slight tooth abrasion offered by dry dog food cannot be achieved when a dog eats a diet consisting solely of soft or wet food.
Some dog chew treats have abrasive surfaces that help remove plaque deposits and keep a dog’s teeth healthy. You can try switching to a better quality dog food and if that doesn’t help, you should ask your vet for a recommendation on which dog food to buy for your pet.
A dog’s ears should be cleaned at least once a month or more frequently if your dog is prone to heavy ear secretions.
It is also possible for ear infections to be inherited from a dog’s parents and passed from generation to generation. There are effective treatments on the market today that can help ease your dog’s symptoms, allowing your pet to live a longer, active life. If you suspect the problem is environmental, try to keep your pet away from grassy areas or lawns that may have recently been reseeded or fertilized.
If your dog is an indoor pet and spends most of its time inside, check your air conditioning or furnace filters to see if they need replacing.

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