Signs of Deafness in Dogs

While some of the signs of hearing loss in dogs are obvious, such as a lack of response to sound, it may be difficult for a pet parent to realize their dog is deaf, especially if it's new or slowly developing. 

This is why it's essential to pay careful attention to any changes in behavior. What may seem like poor obedience may actually be a sign that something is wrong. 

One of the most common signs of deafness in dogs is a lack of response to commands or other noises they used to react to or being easily startled. This may include squeaky toys and doorbells. Pet hearing loss is sometimes accompanied by excessive barking as well. 

Diagnosing Hearing Loss in Pets

As you start to notice the above behavioral changes in your pet, it's worth seeking a formal diagnosis from a veterinarian. This can not only help confirm your suspicions, but it can also be sure your pet gets any necessary treatments.

Consider checking their ears for any potential problems and making a list of symptoms to discuss with your dog's veterinarian. The veterinarian will examine your dog's ears, including using tools to view deep in the ear canal, to check for issues.
Infographic on potential causes of dogs hearing loss

Potential Causes of Dog Hearing Loss

While there are many potential causes of dog hearing loss, understanding the exact cause is important for their health. Some issues are unavoidable and, besides a lack of hearing, are otherwise harmless.
However, other causes of deafness in dogs may be painful or threatening to their health. Having their ears thoroughly examined for a diagnosis can help ensure a good quality of life, even if they'll never hear again.
Sometimes foreign objects or bodily changes can result in blockages of the ear canal. This can limit a dog's ability to hear well (or at all). This is one example of why it's important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian.

Blockages caused by foreign objects such as dirt and debris can be cleared so they don't result in pain and infection. Blockages caused by inflammation or growths (such as tumors) may be treatable with medication or surgery.
Birth Defects
Some dogs and dog breeds are genetically predisposed to dog hearing loss. This means they have a higher chance of being born deaf or developing deafness later in life. 

More than 100 dog breeds experience may experience this cause of deafness, especially in breeds with white and merle fur. Some examples of affected breeds include Dachshunds, Great Danes, and Bulldogs.

However, just because your dog is a certain breed does not mean they will develop deafness, even if they have a certain fur color. It depends on a number of genetic factors.
As dogs age, parts of their body begin to change, including their ears. The nerves in their ears help them hear, but these nerves can degenerate over the years. 

When age and nerve degeneration are the cause of hearing loss, the symptoms appear gradually. This can mean it's not always apparent that hearing is the issue. 
Ear Damage
Signs of deafness in dogs can be a result of ear damage. Ear damage comes in different forms such as physical damage to the ear and eardrum. This includes frequent and repeated exposure to loud noises.

Infection can also result in inner ear damage. This can happen when infections are left untreated or occur frequently. The infection can result in long-term inflammation that can even result in the need for surgery. 
Exposure to Toxins
Exposure to heavy metals or certain chemicals may result in dog hearing loss. For example, when certain medications are used incorrectly or have side effects that may result in deafness, known as ototoxicity

When treating dogs with medications, it's important to use them as prescribed. If dogs are exposed to possible toxins, it's important to contact a veterinarian or Pet Poison Control immediately. 

How to Care for a Deaf Dog

Even if you see signs of hearing loss in dogs, it doesn't have to mean they have a lower quality of life than dogs that retain their hearing. The most important thing is restructuring your approach to pet care.

You may need to retrain your dog to learn non-verbal commands. Start by learning how to get your dog's attention such as by stomping your feet, especially when entering a room. 

While adjusting your routines to accommodate a deaf dog, patience is essential. It may take a dog time to learn new commands and adapt to its new lifestyle. Be patient and consistent for the best results to maintain a positive relationship. 

Be Prepared for Deafness in Dogs

While it's not always obvious how our dogs' lives will play out, it's important to be prepared for deafness in dogs. By understanding the signs of hearing loss in dogs and what to do about them, you can help your pet continue to live a healthy life.

For more helpful tips and recommendations pertaining to hearing, visit the Connect Hearing blog
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not use the information as a substitute for, nor should it replace, professional medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.