Everything You Need to Know About Hearing Loss in Dogs

hearing loss in dogs

hearing loss in dogs

It can be quite scary when your dog goes deaf, but this article will help you with everything you need to know about hearing loss in dogs.

While hearing loss in senior dogs is not an absolute, partial or full hearing loss is common. Your dog will begin to rely on his other senses, and can still live a very happy, good quality life. I have had deaf dogs, and they have adapted well.

First things first! Love and empathy! It’s not your dog’s fault he can’t hear you, or respond as quickly as he used to.

Signs your dog is losing his hearing

  • Sleeping more deeply
  • Doesn’t react to noises/squeaky toys/doorbells/knocking the way he used to
  • He doesn’t know you’re in the room until he sees you, or you touch him
  • Shakes his head a lot
  • Barks a lot
  • Paws at his ears
  • Doesn’t respond when you give him a cue
  • Startled when he wakes up, because he didn’t hear you approaching

diagnosing hearing loss in dogsHow do I check?

It’s very simple – stand behind him and jingle your keys, or clap really loudly. Do his ears move? Does he turn his head? How quickly/or slowly does he respond?

If he has lost hearing or his response time is slow, take him to the vet. You never know, it could be an ear infection.


There’s not a lot you can do about age related hearing loss. However, regular vet checks to keep your dog’s ear canals clean and free from wax and hair build up, are a good idea. If you suspect he has an ear infection or any problems with his ears, see the vet right away.

Only temporary deafness can be reversed.

Communicating with your dog

Just because your dog may be partially or completely deaf, does not mean he can’t still hear you.

  • When giving him a cue, say it louder.
  • Use a flashlight or laser pointer to get his attention.
  • A stomp on the floor with a heavy shoe or boot, may cause vibrations your dog will notice.
  • Teach him hand signals. For instance, when I taught my dog to sit, I paired it up with a hand signal, so now I don’t have to say anything.
  • Practice walking up behind him, and gently tapping him on the back – then give him a nice tasty treat to get him used to it.

Keeping your deaf dog safe

  • Keep Your Deaf Dog on a LeashDon’t let him run off leash, unless it’s in an enclosed area.
  • Consider a long training lead. He’ll have some freedom to run, without the fear of losing him.
  • Pay closer attention to your surroundings when out walking. Your dog was used to hearing what’s approaching – he’ll rely on you for that now.
  • Attach a bell to his collar, so you can hear him if he gets out.
  • If the dog park is too much for him right now, play dates with his doggie friends will keep him active and socialising, but in a more controlled setting.
  • If you have kids running around the house, or visitors dropping by, don’t let them startle the dog. Explain the best way to approach.

Everything you need to know about hearing loss in dogs – conclusion

I know it’s a difficult time for you, but imagine how your dog is feeling? You can understand what’s going on, he doesn’t. He may be feeling confused, scared, nervous. Of course there will be challenges while everyone acclimates to what will be your new “normal” – but as long as you keeping loving him, and showing compassion and patience, you’ll all be fine.

I hope this post on hearing loss in dogs has helped you see that life for, and with, a deaf dog can be just as wonderful as before, with a few “minor” adjustments. 




Everything You Need to Know About Hearing Loss in Dogs
Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

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10 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Hearing Loss in Dogs

  1. Thanks! I did not realize that dogs can lose their hearing too. I like the way you structured this post. I feel a lot of care from you caring for the well being of senior dogs.

    1. Hi Chase, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. It’s fair to say, many of the same illnesses and conditions that we’re vulnerable to, so are our dogs. It’s kind of you to say – I really do have a soft spot for senior dogs. My dream is to open a retirement home for animals!

  2. Wow! I never thought of all the adjustments one would have to make when having a dog that has lost it’s hearing. Let alone the dog! You bring up a good point simply about awareness with your dog and keeping him on a leash. If he started to run away from you, you couldn’t easily call him back. Are there any types of medication for dogs with still partial hearing loss, or is even the partial hearing loss permanent? How about a hearing aid for dogs!! 🙂

    1. Hi Steve, Thanks for taking the time to comment. There are definitely some adjustments to make, but nothing major or difficult. If hearing loss is caused by an inflammation, surgery, for example, may help but it would depend on the extent of the disease, x-ray findings… As a matter of fact, there are hearing aids for dogs. From what I understand the University of Cincinnati is the only place that does it, but there are lots of issues – try getting a dog to wear one, and teach him to interpret sounds he’s hearing, not to mention the fact they cost thousands. Dogs adapt to loss of hearing, making their other senses even keener.

  3. Thanks for posting! You’ve given us a fresh, new perspective on caring for senior dogs with hearing loss. Love & empathy, that’s true… It was thought-provoking… the idea of hearing aids for dogs and the challenges that come with it? Hmmm…

  4. hi Hindy
    I had never really about the facts that dogs could also be deaf. I can imagine the challenges encountered, somewhat like children. How would a dog lose his hearing though? An infection, an illness? Or is it possible that it could only be due to older age? I would imagine that a dog who recently lost their hearing would be more skittish and would stay close to their human to feel safe. As I am sure it can be a tad scary at the beginning. Treating the dog with respect, love and providing reassurance would be key. As you would become their key person to go to. You provide good tips to help an older dog with hearing loss 🙂

    1. Hi Emily, Yes dogs can definitely experience hearing loss, and total deafness. Usually it’s just age related, but sometimes wax builds up and is left, or ear infections go untreated. It’s a good idea when training a dog, to teach him hand signals in addition to the verbal cues. That way if he does lose his hearing, you can still communicate.

  5. Very informative and it’s obvious you know your dogs! Little tell-tale signs might be overlooked if it weren’t for you bringing them out, for example a dog pawing at its ears. Thanks to you dog owners can successfull care for senior dogs with less stress. Keep up the good work

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you found this post helpful. When dogs get older, people tend to assume everything that’s going on is just a normal sign of ageing, when in fact often our dogs are trying to tell us something, we’re just not paying attention. I certainly hope this helps.

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