NC State investigating possible link between hearing loss and dementia in geriatric dogs

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The new study performed hearing and cognitive tests on nearly 40 elderly and geriatric patients

North Carolina State University recently published a new study looking at the link between older and geriatric dogs with dementia and hearing loss. Through the study, the university hopes it could potentially help in the treatment of aging dogs and the relationship between loss of sensory and cognitive function in dogs.

“This study indicates that the same connection is at work in aging dogs. But since we can potentially treat hearing loss in dogs, we may be able to alleviate some of these other problems. By quantifying neurological and physiological changes in older dogs, we are not only improving our ability to identify and treat these issues in our pets, but we are also creating a model to improve our understanding of the same issues in humans,” said explained Natasha. Olby, Vet MB, PhD, MRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology), study corresponding author, in an organizational statement.1

Olby and his colleagues evaluated 39 senior or geriatric dogs by performing hearing and cognitive tests on the participants. The owners of the canines were also asked to complete 2 questionnaires, one relating to cognitive abilities and the other to quality of life. Cognitive tests and questionnaire score, as well as age, were compared between the hearing groups.

According to the study, 50 decibels (dB) are the average auditory tones that dogs can hear without difficulty. Among the dogs in the study,2 19 could hear 50 dB, 12 at 70 dB and 8 at 90 dB. With the groups, the average ages were 12 to 14 years old. The researchers then compared these results to the questionnaire, finding that companionship and vitality scores notably decreased as the dog’s hearing deteriorated.

The researchers then classified the cognitive scores of the 8 dogs in the 90 dB group as abnormal, comparing 9 of the 12 dogs in the 70 dB group and 8 of the 19 in the 50 dB group.1 Cognitive test results were similar, demonstrating sensory decline that contributed to loss of motor skills.

Reference

  1. Hearing loss in dogs associated with dementia. Press release. North Carolina State University. August 9, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022. https://news.ncsu.edu/2022/08/hearing-loss-in-dogs-associated-with-dementia/
  2. Fefer, G, Khan, MZ, Panek, WK, Case, B, Gruen, ME, Olby, NJ. Relationship between hearing, cognitive function and quality of life in aging companion dogs. J Vet Med Intern. 2022; 1- 11. do:10.1111/jvim.16510

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