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
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
- Don’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.