Living With A Deaf Dog

Canine deafness often occurs as dogs age. Any dog over the age of ten may begin to exhibit signs of hearing impairment. In some cases, the hearing loss is temporary and responds to treatment by a vet. However, in other cases, the hearing loss may be permanent, and both you and your dog must adjust to a different way of interacting.


Causes of Deafness in Dogs

Deafness can be caused by a number of factors:

· Congenital factors – Some dogs are born deaf.

· Head trauma

· Ear trauma

· Chronic infection

· Ear parasites

· Aging

· Medications

Signs Your Dog Has A Hearing Problem

You should have your dog’s ears checked by a veterinarian if he displays any of these signs:

· The dog is startled by your appearance in a room.

· He does not respond or turns the other way when you call him.

· He barks excessively.

· Outside stimuli like the doorbell ringing or someone knocking on the door do not elicit a response.

· The dog paws at his ears.

· The dog has a discharge coming from his ears.

· When he is sleeping, he does not hear your approach, and you must touch him to get him to awaken.

Breeds That Are Prone To Deafness

Dalmatians are particularly prone to deafness. Other breeds in which deafness is a problem are English Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, English Setters and Beagles. Cocker spaniels and other breeds with a great deal of hair around the ears are often troubled with ear problems and deafness. Breeds with merle coloring, such as Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs and harlequin Great Danes are also at high risk for deafness.

Diagnostic Tests Your Vet Can Do

Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s ears and general condition to ensure that no infection or other condition is causing the problem. The vet can also use the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response Test, or BAER test, which uses electrodes that are placed under the dog’s scalp to measure his auditory response.

Treatment For Canine Hearing Loss

Your vet will treat the dog for any infection or foreign object in the ear.  If the buildup of wax is the problem, the vet can attempt to remove it so the dog can hear. However, in some cases, the hearing impairment cannot be treated, and the dog will have to learn to adjust to life in a more silent world. Deaf dogs do learn to rely on their other senses more, which allows them to live happy, healthy lives in spite of their impairment.

Life With A Deaf Dog

You may have to work a little harder to preserve the bond between you and your deaf dog.  Because he cannot hear, he will be unable to provide those immediate responses you previously expected. However, small adjustments in both your behaviors can help to restore a healthy interaction between you and your dog:

· Learn a few hand signals so that you can communicate important commands to your deaf dog.

· Use touch to get your dog’s attention and provide leadership.

· Use a flashlight or laser to get your dog’s attention.

· A loud stomp of your foot may provide enough vibration to allow your dog to respond.

Safety Tips For Deaf Dogs

Hearing-impaired dogs are at particular risk for accidents because they cannot detect the sound of hazards around them. The American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends:

· Keep your dog on leash whenever he is outside the house.

· Teach simple hand signals instead of voice commands.

· Attach a small bell to the dog’s collar so that you can find him if he wanders off. He will not be able to respond to your calls.

· Make gentle tactile contact with your dog frequently to reassure him and let him know you are close by.

Although living with a deaf dog offers certain challenges, it also offer special rewards. The bond between you and your pet can become closer because of the closer interactions.