Dealing with a deaf dog.

Dealing with a deaf dog. Image: Pixabay

How can I deal with my deaf dog?

A deaf dog is unable to hear sounds and relies on visual cues, hand signals, and touch for communication and training.

Dealing with a deaf dog.

Dealing with a deaf dog. Image: Pixabay

Our canine companions rely heavily on their hearing to navigate the world, from interpreting our commands to staying alert to potential dangers. But just like us, dogs can experience hearing loss, which can be a confusing and worrying time for both pet and owner.

Causes of Canine Deafness

Drawing from the expertise of George Strain’s book “Deafness in Dogs and Cats,” we learn that deafness in dogs can be present at birth (congenital) or develop later in life. Among the reasons for acquired deafness, age-related hearing loss is a common culprit. Acquired deafness can have various causes, including:

  • Ear infections: Untreated ear infections can damage the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.
  • Earwax buildup: Excessive wax buildup can block the ear canal, hindering sound transmission.
  • Foreign objects: Lodged objects like grass seeds or foxtails can irritate and damage the ear canal, affecting hearing.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Similar to humans, some dogs experience a gradual decline in hearing with age.
  • Trauma: Head injuries or loud noises can cause permanent hearing loss.
  • Certain medications: Some medications can have ototoxic side effects, damaging the structures responsible for hearing.

Signs and Symptoms of a Deaf Dog

If you suspect your dog might be losing their hearing, be on the lookout for these signs:

  • Selective deafness: Only responding to loud noises or familiar voices.
  • Ignoring commands: Seemingly disobeying verbal cues, even well-trained dogs.
  • Sleeping more soundly: Difficulty waking from sleep due to missing auditory cues.
  • Startled by sudden touches: Being easily frightened by unexpected petting as they can’t hear your approach.
  • Excessive barking: Unable to distinguish familiar sounds from threatening ones, leading to more barking.
  • Head shaking or tilting: Indicating discomfort or infection in the ear.

Living with a Deaf Dog

While deafness can be a challenge, it doesn’t have to diminish the bond between you and your furry friend. Here are some tips for living with a deaf dog:

  • Visual cues: Train your dog using hand signals and body language instead of verbal commands.
  • Maintain routines: Keep walks and feeding times consistent to provide predictability.
  • Use vibrations: Tap the ground or use a vibration collar to get their attention.
  • Safety first: Keep your deaf dog on a leash during walks and ensure your home environment is escape-proof.

With patience, understanding, and some adjustments, you can continue to provide a loving and fulfilling life for your deaf dog. If you’re concerned about your dog’s hearing, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and discuss the best course of action.


Artificial Intelligence assisted in compiling this article.