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Hearing Loss in Dogs - What You Need to Know


Our dogs are the only thing that love us more than we do ourselves. They will forgive us as many times as there are lights in the starry sky.  The only sad thing is they age faster. But pause that thought. It’s best they go first. Because a dog could never get over the death of its owner, such is its undying love.

Did You Know a Dog’s Hearing Can Deteriorate with Age?

Dog ears work the same way as human ones do, meaning canine hearing loss is as likely with them as it is with humans. However, they have refinements that enable them to detect things far beyond the upper limit of our human auditory spectrum. And they can move their ears around to detect the exact location of a sound.

When your dog gets the shakes, and you realize the next day there was a distant thunderstorm, that’s not necessarily because they are psychic. It could also be because dogs can hear sounds at four times the distance humans can.

Signs of Hearing loss in Dogs and Other Pets

Our pets can’t talk back and explain things in words. Perhaps that’s best, because they could dominate the conversation. So it’s up to us to keep an eye out for hearing loss in pets. Your dog could be telling you they can’t hear properly in one of these ways according to Forever Vets Animal Hospital:

  • Suddenly becoming disobedient or ignoring verbal requests
  • Reacting quickly as if startled, beginning barking excessively
  • Not noticing everyday sounds like a knock at the door, or footsteps
  • Shaking or tilting their head, becoming disinterested / sleeping more

In addition to these signs, you can do a quick hearing test to confirm the situation.

VCA Hospitals suggests rattling your keys, squeaking a toy, clapping your hands behind the dog, ringing a bell, and whistling at different volumes until you get a reaction.

Is There Something I Can Do to Prevent This Happening?

There’s not much we can do to prevent hearing loss in dogs, any more than we can stop it happening to ourselves. Although we suppose not regularly exposing our pets to excessively noisy situations could be a good start.

Congenital Deafness among Puppies

Forever Vets says it may be difficult to detect deafness among young dogs, although we could try those ‘hearing tests’ on them if they are unresponsive. There’s a fair amount of information on the internet regarding how to how to train a deaf dog. This boils down to using sign language, and having abundant patience. From the animal’s perspective though, the silence is business as usual.

Sudden Loss of Hearing in Pets

Owners should respond quickly to sudden hearing loss in pets. That’s because - although rare - it could be the outer sign of head trauma or an ear infection. Also consult your vet if your pet’s medical condition suddenly changes.

Dog Loss of Hearing due to Increasing Age

Animals can lose some of their hearing as they age, just as people do. There’s little we can do about their eardrums becoming less flexible, beyond understanding our pet’s hearing loss is not their fault.

However, a researcher at Auburn University in Alabama did have some success with fitting hearing aids to dogs. We understand he placed these in containers attached to their collars, and connected them via plastic tubes to foam plugs in their ears.

In reality this is probably not needed, as dogs with hearing loss appear to adapt by relying more on other senses. However, their owners may need to think for them, for example when walking them near traffic.

Tips for Living with Hard-Of-Hearing Dogs

Dogs can’t do anything to change the situation. Therefore adaption must come from their caretaker unless we are super rich, and can afford cochlear implants. The great news is animals have no hang-ups about their condition, beyond wanting to make their owners happy.

Deaf dog training is easy if we have patience, because of their desire to please. They will readily associate our hand signals with desired behavior, provided we reinforce this with treats. Some dogs may also be sensitive to vibrations. In this case, we could waken them gently by tapping our feet.

However, deaf and partly-deaf dogs are at a disadvantage in busy situations. That’s because they could stray into traffic, lose their cool and panic. The workaround is keeping them on leashes and then communicating our desires in much the same way as riders communicate with their horses through reins.

Dogs are our most perfect of friends. We may have many others, but we can be their only friends if we want. Then they will be our best ones no matter what we do. And they will leave paw prints on our hearts. After we explain what we want them to do.