NC State investigates possible connection between hearing loss and dementia in geriatric canines

dvm360dvm360 October 2022
Volume 53
Issue 10
Pages: 20

The new study performed auditory and cognitive tests on almost 40 senior and geriatric patients



North Carolina State University recently published a new study investigating the connection between senior and geriatric canines with dementia and hearing loss. Through the study, the university hopes this could potentially aid 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 issues. By quantifying neurological and physiological changes in elderly dogs, we’re not only improving our ability to identify and treat these issues in our pets, but we’re also creating a model for improving our understanding of the same issues in humans,” explained Natasha Olby, Vet MB, PhD, MRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology), corresponding author of the study, in an organizational release.1

Olby and her colleagues evaluated 39 senior or geriatric dogs by performing auditory and cognitive tests on the participants. The owners of the canines were asked to also fill out 2 questionaries, one focusing on cognitive ability and the other on the quality of life. The cognitive testing and questionnaire score, along with age, were compared between hearing groups.

According to the study, 50 decibels (dBs) are the average hear tones that dogs can hear with no difficulty. Of the dogs in the study,2 19 could hear 50 dBs, 12 at 70 dBs, and 8 at 90 dBs. With the groups, the average ages were 12-14. Researchers then compared these findings to the questionnaire, discovering that the scores related to companionship and vitality declined notably as the canine's hearing deteriorated.

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


  1. Hearing Loss in Dogs Associated With Dementia. News Release. North Carolina State University. August 9, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  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 Intern Med. 2022; 1- 11. doi:10.1111/jvim.16510
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