How to Tell if Your Dog is Deaf: A Guide to Hearing Loss in Dogs

All dog owners want to make sure their pet is healthy and happy, but one ailment that may be hard to determine is hearing loss in dogs. Deafness can strike puppies quickly or gradually come on for older dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of dogs in the U.S. suffer from deafness.

Owners need to stay vigilant when it comes to their dog’s hearing. Fortunately, there are several signs to watch out for. These symptoms are key to understanding your dog’s hearing issues. There are also some solutions to communicating with a dog that has suffered hearing loss.

 

Dog with tilted head and tongue sticking out.

 

It might be difficult for people to wonder, “Is my dog deaf?” but it is a natural occurrence in some pets. Working with a veterinary expert, you can monitor your pet’s hearing and ensure a high quality of life.

What are the signs of deafness in dogs?

There are several warning signs that may signal a loss of hearing, especially in older dogs:

  • Sudden disobedience and/or ignoring verbal commands
  • An uptick in startle reflex
  • Excessive barking
  • Unresponsive to everyday sounds, like a knocking
  • Apathy or an increase in sleep
  • Shaking or tilting of its head

First and foremost, if your dog starts ignoring commands, it could be a clear sign of hearing loss. Dogs with deafness begin to lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds first, so if it doesn’t respond to a whistle, try attempting other sounds like claps or clicks while facing away from your pet. You may also notice a general lack of activity and have trouble waking your dog.

What the signs of deafness in puppies?

It can be harder to determine deafness in puppies – after all, they are distracted, energetic and a little wild by nature! But there are a couple of simple tests you can try. Watch your puppy walk through the house. If it doesn’t turn its ears toward sounds, that is a sign of hearing loss. You can also shake keys or play with a squeaky toy to see if your puppy will react to the sound. A deaf puppy will not react to “exciting” noises or voices. Your vet will know more about how to tell if a puppy is deaf after that.

What breeds of dogs are prone to deafness?

While all dogs can suffer from deafness, there are more than 30 breeds of dogs that have a higher rate of hearing problems. Some of the breeds include Australian and German shepherds, terriers, sheepdogs, settlers, great danes, dalmatians and cocker spaniels. Studies have determined that dogs with white coats have a higher rate of deafness, with two genes – merle and piebald – playing a role in hearing loss.

What should owners know about sudden hearing loss in dogs?

While sudden hearing loss is rare, there are a couple of exceptions. If your dog experiences some sort of head trauma, it could lead to damage to the bone surrounding the ear canal, which can then result in acute loss of hearing. Certain medicines can also have adverse effects on canine hearing – check with your vet if you have any questions about applying medicine in your dog’s ears.

Is there a dog hearing test?

You may be wondering how to tell if your dog is deaf at home, but if there is any question, you should head to your veterinary provider with your concerns. They will likely suggest a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test for your pet. It detects electrical activity in the cochlea along with checking the auditory routes in the brain. The test involves placing electrodes on your dog’s head and then sending a slight stimulus through earpieces. It is the best way to determine the hearing capacity of your pet.

Deaf dogs can function normally, as long as owners take certain steps to keep them safe. You will have to train your dog to understand hand signals. They shouldn’t be left unleashed or placed in unfamiliar situations, since sudden touches or movements may startle them. With some adjustments, your dog can continue to live a happy life even with hearing difficulties.

If you’re beginning to notice that your four-legged friend isn’t responding to your calls or is slow to react to commands, connect with us. Knowing how to tell if a dog is deaf for certain is nearly impossible without taking a trip to your experienced veterinary provider.