Is your dog barking excessively, sleeping more, not listening to your commands, or starting to have accidents in the house? These are all signs that she could be losing her hearing. Dogs that cannot hear (and therefore cannot respond to verbal commands) can seem like their behavior is changing, when in fact they are just adapting to a new world without sound.
Why is my dog hearing impaired?
Some dogs are born without the ability to hear, but the majority of dogs that later become hearing-impaired or deaf are senior dogs. Most dogs that develop hearing loss do it over a period of weeks to months, or even longer. There are many causes of deafness; some are treatable and many irreversible. Treatable causes, like ear infections or ear wax buildup, cause sound to not reach the hearing apparatus of the inner ear. Common forms of hearing loss that are irreversible include but are not limited to progressive nerve degeneration (also very common in humans,) strokes, and cancer.
Can my dog still have a good quality of life?
Absolutely! The good news about hearing loss in dogs is that they are great at adapting and can still have an excellent quality of life! Dogs rely a great deal on their sense of smell, which improves their awareness of their environment. Like humans, dogs can also feel vibrations to help them sense their surroundings. With some training and patience, most dogs can learn to follow commands like sit and stay with visual stimuli only.
What extra precautions do I need to take to keep my dog safe?
A dog who is unable to hear has more safety concerns that a non-hearing-impaired dog. Since they are unable to hear potential dangers like traffic, dogs experiencing hearing loss or deafness should always be on-leash or in a secure, fenced-in area. If your hearing-impaired dog is looking out the window, eating, or sleeping, it’s a good idea to approach slowly and gently touch them to get their attention. Without audible cues or warnings, a hearing-impaired dog may be easily startled and even frightened. If there are small children around, please teach them how to properly approach your dog.
If you suspect that your dog is losing her hearing, please make an appointment with your family veterinarian. Once diagnosed, you and your family veterinarian will be able to discuss strategies and possible treatments available to give your dog the best quality of life possible.