In Honor Of Deaf Dogs Awareness Week, How Much Do You Know About Hearing Loss In Dogs?

The last full week of September is Deaf Dog Awareness Week. This week is meant to honor furry family members, but even if you do not have a deaf dog, it's a good time to learn a bit more about hearing loss in dogs and signs to watch out for.

What are the signs of hearing loss in dogs?

The older your dog gets, the more at risk he is for hearing loss. However, hearing loss has many causes (as discussed below), and it really can appear at any age. Here are the most common symptoms:

  • A loss of responsiveness to commands. (For instance, your dog used to respond immediately when you told him to sit and stay, but now you have to repeat yourself a few times.)
  • Less responsiveness to his name.
  • Failure to wake up easily from sleep when there's a loud noise. (You may have to touch your dog to wake him up because calling him or clapping doesn't work anymore.)
  • Expressions of surprise when there's a loud noise as these may be the only noises he still hears.

What causes hearing loss in dogs, and what can you do about it?

Some causes of hearing loss are temporary while others are permanent. So, if your dog is showing signs of hearing loss, don't panic and assume he'll be deaf for life. Make an appointment with your vet, who can figure out the cause. Common culprits include the following:

Infections: Ear infections may cause temporary hearing loss. If your dog seems to be rubbing his ears on things or you see discharge from the ears, infection is the likely cause. Your vet can prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection, and in most cases, your dog will gain his hearing back once the infection clears.

Injuries: Accidents that result in head trauma sometimes damage to the ear drums or the bones in the ear. If your dog was dealing with more serious injuries after a recent accident, the hearing loss may have initially gone undetected. In some cases, surgery may restore or improve his hearing.

Genetic Nerve Degeneration: Some dogs are genetically predisposed to nerve degeneration as they age, causing a loss of hearing. If your vet determines that this is the case, you can expect your dog's hearing to continue to worsen as he ages. Re-training your dog to react to visual stimuli may help make life easier for the both of you in the coming years.

Foreign Bodies: If there's a chunk of mud, some dirt, ear wax, or other debris lingering in your dog's ear, it may be muffling his hearing. Your vet should be able to remove it safely. Do not attempt this yourself as you may do permanent damage to the delicate eardrum.