Post-anesthesia deafness in dogs and cats following dental and ear cleaning procedures


George M Strain, Comparative Biomedical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 USA. E-mail:


Objective  The present study was performed to document hearing loss in dogs and cats following procedures performed under anesthesia. Most cases of reported hearing loss were subsequent to dental and ear cleaning procedures.

Study design  Prospective and retrospective case survey.

Animals  Subjects were dogs and cats with deafness, personally communicated to one author, cases discussed on a veterinary information web site, and cases communicated through a survey of general practice and dental specialist veterinarians.

Methods  Reported deafness cases were characterized by species (dog, cat), breed, gender, age, and dog breed size.

Results  Sixty-two cases of hearing loss following anesthesia were reported between the years 2002 and 2009. Five additional cases were reported by survey respondents. Forty-three cases occurred following dental procedures. Sixteen cases occurred following ear cleaning. No relationship was observed between deafness and dog or cat breed, gender, anesthetic drug used, or dog size. Geriatric animals appeared more susceptible to post-anesthetic, post-procedural hearing loss.

Conclusions  Deafness may occur in dogs and cats following anesthesia for dental and ear cleaning procedures, but the prevalence is low. The hearing loss appears to be permanent.

Clinical relevance  Deafness can be a consequence following anesthesia for dental or ear cleaning procedures. Older animals may have greater susceptibility.