Unfortunately Deafness in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is a common health condition which the breed is prone to.
There are a couple of different types of deafness to be aware of in Cavaliers. With Otitis Externa being the most common.
While more common in other breeds such as Dalmatians and Bull Terroirs, Congenital or Hereditary Deafness is reported to effect 100 breeds of dog including the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
As its name suggests, this form of deafness is present at birth and is caused due to receptors of the dog’s inner ear not forming correctly, or degenerating.
It’s always wise to discuss with your breeder the history of their pups.
While not present at birth, progressive deafness can also be a hereditary.
This form of deafness will usually worsen as the dog ages. In most cases, the dog will eventually have a complete hearing loss and become deaf.
Unlike Congenital deafness, the cause of Progressive Deafness tends to be due degeneration of the hearing nerve.
This is known by many other names, "Primary Secretary Otitis Media (PSOM), (OME) otitis media with effusion”, “Middle Ear Effusion” and more commonly “Glue Ear”.
Otitis, is caused by a mucus plug filling the dog's ear. Eventually, this plug will cause hearing difficulties due to it blocking the ability of the dog’s ear to conduct soundwaves.
It Is not uncommon for your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to appear to be losing their hearing progressively with this form of hearing loss. Perhaps only responding to loud noises, or not noticing you enter the room like they once used to.
The symptoms are often similar to Syringomyelia, in that it causes pain to the Cavaliers head and neck and in severe cases can cause seizures and fatigue.
Providing the symptoms are only minor, this should, fortunately, be able to be treated with medication. More severe cases may require surgery.
Importance of Health Insurance
We would always recommend contacting your trusted veterinarian if you notice any signs associated with any of these forms of deafness.
Likewise, we highly recommend a good lifetime pet insurance policy.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Living with Deafness
It's all very well knowing about Deafness. But what's it actually like living with it?
As a responsible pet owner, what is it like living with a Cavalier that suffers this disease?
How does it affect the life and overall happiness of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?
In order to answer these questions, we reached out to our friend on Twitter @Ryan_Genealogy to find out all about his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rex.
All about Rex
Rex is a 12-and-a-half-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
He came into his owners lives somewhat unexpectedly roughly a decade ago, through family involvement with an animal welfare charity, who were looking to rehome him.
Rex's owners had just lost their previous dog after she had tragically run in front of a truck. Obviously, an extremely upsetting event and still grieving they were unsure if they were ready to bring another dog into their lives.
But it wasn’t long before Rex made his way into to his new owner's hearts and they were smitten.
It should be stressed that Rex was never mistreated by his previous owners. They simply hadn’t realized just how much attention a dog needed.
Rex’s owners had never owned a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and admitted to being a bit wary of the breed due to their health issues.
But it didn’t take long for Rex to settle in and to declare his ownership of the house and everyone in it.
Rex’s owner took advice from a family Friend who’d owned Cavaliers who were able to advise on the best way to take care of him.
Being a rescue dog, he had no papers. So there was no information on his age or lineage.
Like most Cavaliers, Rex likes to spend his days cuddling, sleeping and eating.
In his younger days, he was extremely active, although getting on a bit now he still likes to go for walks, although refuses to step outside of the house if it’s raining
Rex’s new owners were aware of health issues the breed suffered and we’re prepared for this.
Despite these horror stories, they were pleased to find out upon rescuing him and having him checked over by the vet, that he had a clean bill of health.
It wasn’t until fairly late on in Rex’s life that he started to have any health problems.
The earliest health problems noticed in Rex were related to his arthritis. He used to have a habit of jumping up on the furniture, to cuddle up with his owner (no matter how hard they tried to discourage it).
But gradually it became apparent that he was getting stiffer. He would sometimes stop while out walking and refuse to move. He found it harder and harder to jump up on the furniture.
Nowadays, he prefers to stay on the ground. The vet gave him some tablets which help with arthritis. He has also been given injections to slow arthritis. Administered over a number of weeks every few years, Rex is always feeling much livelier afterward.
His arthritis has also meant keeping a strict eye on his weight and diet, something Rex isn’t happy about.
Hearing Loss / Deafness
His hearing loss was less obvious at first. He always had selective hearing. For example, he might not respond right away when called but would appear almost instantly whenever a kitchen cupboard was opened.
He was also never a very reactive dog. Other dogs barking or other loud noises never bothered him.
It was only gradually that his owners began to suspect that he had gone completely deaf.
While this might sound traumatic, his life hasn’t been too greatly impacted.
He was never the type of dog to come running immediately when called. And he can still sense when the treat cupboard is opened, regardless of how well he hears.
While the deafness had little negative impact on Rex’s life and wellbeing, something that worried Rex’s owners was the diagnosis of a heart murmur as they thought Rex was finally nearing his end.
They had noticed he wasn’t as energetic as he used to be and was coughing much more than normal.
Fortunately, they were proven wrong. Through medication, Rex has continued to enjoy a good quality of life.
Living Life happily whilst being deaf
Despite these health issues, Rex still enjoys life. He doesn’t mind the occasional walk and still gets excited by any visitors to the house, demanding their undivided attention.
Like most cavaliers, his main passion in life is food. He is very quick to let his owners know if he feels his meals are late or is owed a treat.
His favorite spot is underneath the kitchen table, waiting for anything that may fall.
His advancing years are an obvious concern, especially when he has reached what would typically be the upper age for the breed. But being aware of this just makes us more determined to enjoy however long we have left with him and to make sure he knows he is loved.