All Things Dog

Common diseases in older dogs: Hearing loss

Humans aren't the only ones who can become hard of hearing as they grow older. Dogs, too, can experience hearing loss as part of the aging process. You may have started to notice some of the signs that your dog's hearing is no longer as keen as it used to be:

Your dog doesn't respond to your verbal commands anymore. You may notice that your dog is much slower or inconsistent in responding to your commands. This is most likely due to the fact that your dog simply can't hear you, not because he's being deliberately disobedient.

He seems startled when awakened. If your dog doesn't hear you approaching, it can catch him off guard and even frighten him.

He appears to be oblivious to noises. If your dog used to run to the window when he heard voices or sirens but now doesn't seem to hear them at all, it's highly possible he doesn't. You can test this by clapping your hands when your dog isn't looking at you and see if he responds.

Partial or full hearing loss is common in senior dogs. If hearing loss occurs in both ears, it's known as bilateral deafness. Hearing loss in one ear is referred to as unilateral deafness. Your vet can let you know whether or not your dog is experiencing bilateral or unilateral deafness.

Helping your dog cope with hearing loss
Ultimately, your dog will begin to rely on his other senses in order to function. You can also teach your dog simple hand signals to represent commands like sit, stay or come.

Here are some other suggestions to help your dog deal with his loss of hearing:

  • Don't let your dog roam around freely in open areas - he won't be able to hear approaching cars, people or other dogs.

  • Be careful waking up your dog. Dogs with hearing loss sleep very soundly, and if you disturb him he may snap at you because he's startled.

  • Make sure you let visitors (especially children) know about your dog's deafness. Let them know that your dog may get frightened if he doesn't hear them approaching.

  • Don't let your dog run around unleashed. A dog that is deaf can't hear approaching traffic or other dangers.

  • While your dog's hearing loss may pose some extra challenges to you at first, with enough love and patience, you'll both be able to adjust to them.

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