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68–71 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

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A Guide to Testing Your Puppy's Hearing

When you call your puppy's name and he doesn't respond, do you automatically think "He's ignoring me, darn it!"? Well, that's certainly a possibility but also consider that your puppy's hearing may not be good. Good hearing and healthy ears are important to dogs for the obvious reasons - safety and balance - but it's also important in their communication and in the interpretation of their other senses.

Signs of a dog with bad hearing include not responding to spoken commands, excessive sleeping, only waking by your touch, going in the wrong direction when called, shaking his head or pawing at his ears. Because your puppy's hearing is now fully mature, it's a good time to test it. If you think your puppy may be hard of hearing, there are tests you and your vet can do to get further information.

Testing a Puppy's Hearing

  1. Behavioral Tests - Simply looking for a turn of the head or a twitch of the ear when you call your puppy can help you start the testing process. But this test produces very limited results.

  2. Otoscopy - This test rules out infections or diseases in the ear.

  3. Brainstorm Auditory Evoked Response - This is a non-invasive test during which a dog is placed in a quiet room with headphones on. The headphones send different clicking sounds and the dog's neural response is measured.

  4. Radiography and MRI - These tests must be done when the dog is sedated. They assess the integrity of the middle ear.

If you do find out that your puppy has a hearing problem, there are many solutions. For some hearing problems, medications are used. For others, restorative surgery may be an option. For example, dogs who have surgery on the vertical canal usually have a full restoration of hearing. Hearing loss caused by faulty sensory nerves cannot usually be corrected with surgery but hearing aids for dogs are available, though you will need to train your pup to leave it alone.

Often white dogs with blue eyes are born deaf and some breeds, such as the Akita and Cocker Spaniel, are more prone to hereditary deafness. Dogs who are born deaf or entirely lose their hearing can lead very good lives. They can be trained to respond to hand signals and a bell can be attached to their collar so they can always be found. Dogs are very adaptable creatures and learn easily how to get around any disabilities.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Puppies Eat Less When They are Teething

When my dog was teething his appetite decreased quite a bit. Our vet recommended adding water to his food to soften it up, which worked great. He did not recommend that we do that all the time because the hard food helps their dental hygiene. That worked for us! Ice cubes and toys in the freezer also helped (i.e. water down a rope toy and freeze).

~TALIE D., owner of Labrador Retriever

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