Yes, Dogs Can Suffer from Hearing Loss and Deafness
Did you know that dogs can suffer from deafness? Yes, it is true. Dogs, at any age, can suffer hearing loss and puppies can be born deaf. Some breeds experience deafness more than others, but there is not one single breed that is completely exempt from hearing loss. Senior dogs often experience diminishing hearing as they age.
Dogs can experience bilateral (both ears) and unilateral (one ear) deafness. Dogs that are bilaterally deaf often carry the genetic material for deafness, so it is important to speak to us about managing their hearing loss so they can live safely and happily. It is harder to tell at home if a dog is unilaterally deaf because dogs compensate very well for the loss of hearing in one ear.
It can be hard to tell if your dog is experiencing hearing loss. Dogs rely on smells and vibrations, so you may not realize that they are experiencing diminished hearing. For example, a dog that responds to the loud, vibrating sounds of a garbage truck rolling past your house but cannot hear his name may be experiencing hearing loss or be deaf.
Here are a 5 quick tests you can do at home to test your dog’s hearing ability:
- Clap your hands while standing away or behind your dog. They should respond appropriately (i.e., turn around and look) to your clapping.
- Ring the doorbell when they are not around the door. You know what their response should be!
- Give your dog a voice command. He or she should respond to the voice command appropriately.
- Squeak a toy or make fun noises. He or she should respond.
- Stand behind your dog and call his or her name. They should turn around to look and may come to see you. Repeat this when your dog is sleeping; do they wake up and look at you?
If you suspect your dog is experiencing hearing loss, call us to have your dog’s hearing checked. There may be medical reasons for the hearing loss, such as a bad ear infection that is causing temporary deafness.
What if your dog is experiencing permanent hearing loss?
Discovering that your dog may have permanent hearing loss can be worrying, but there is no reason why a dog with hearing loss cannot live a safe, full and happy life.
- Safety: The most important consideration when you have a dog with hearing loss is his safety. If he is deaf, he is not able to hear dangers such as passing cars. Please keep your dog on a lead during walks and to try and keep them interesting by taking different routes so he or she is getting mental stimulation.
- Locating your Dog: Fit a bell or other noise object to your dog’s collar so you can locate him easily, not just on off-lead walks but around the home and garden too, as he or she can’t hear you calling.
- Teach your dog hand signals: Dogs can learn hand signals very quickly. These gestures can let him know when to come, sit, stay, lie down, and follow. As your dog approaches you, start giving your chosen hand signal and then give him a treat when he reaches you. He will soon come to associate the hand signal with the treat and will return to you each time expecting it.
- Have patience: If your dog has always been obedient but now is slow to respond, keep an open mind and find other ways to relate to your dog.
- Try not to startle your dog: Approach your dog from the front, especially when he or she is resting; they may not hear you from behind. If your dog is laying on the floor, he may feel the vibrations if you stamp your feet to announce your arrival.
Please give us a call if you are unsure if your dog is experiencing hearing loss to be examined by one of our veterinarians. We will help to confirm whether your dog is deaf or not, and to discuss other testing options with you.