Caring For The Deaf Dog

Following on from our educational topic “How To Care For A Blind Dog” we thought we would also provide some information specific to caring for a deaf dog too.

Going Deaf

A lot of dogs become deaf with old age. This is known as senile deafness and can occur later in life. Deafness may be partial or more severe and hearing often deteriorates gradually. 

Temporary deafness can be caused by a build up of ear wax or an ear infection. Trauma can cause permanent deafness. Occasionally, some puppies are born deaf. This if often as a result of toxins in the womb or viral damage received from the mother during development. 

young deaf dog

Diagnosing Deafness

Find out if your dog is deaf and to what severity requires careful observation of your dog’s response to sound. Common signs include:

  • Failure to rouse when asleep
  • Failure to respond to voice commands 
  • Excessive barking
  • Lack of ear movement
  • Confusion

Diagnosing deafness in one ear is harder and requires an electronic diagnosis test by a vet. Puppies suspected of being deaf can undergo a BAER Test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response Test) from the age of 5 or 6 weeks. The test can also be carried out to dogs of any age. 

If you suspect your dog is losing it’s hearing, consult your vet.

vet check

Living With A Deaf Dog

Deaf dogs can get startled easily, stroking them when they are asleep or can’t see you may make them jump. Partially deaf dogs may interpret previously familiar sounds differently. It will become harder to communicate with your dog as voice commands will have little effect. That being said, you and your dog can still enjoy a fulfilling life together. Here’s how:

  1. Teach hand signals for basic commands
  2. Touch for reassurance. Use different touch points for different meanings
  3. Walk your dog on a lead or long line to prevent them getting lost
  4. Ensure your dog wears a collar with ID tag and is microchipped in the instance of getting lost
  5. Investing in a bib or slip lead stating your dog is deaf will make members of the public aware
  6. Your dog may learn to pick up vibrations from around the house, such as you opening a door or going up the stairs
  7. Be patient as you and your dog adapt to this new normal
  8. Use treats, pats and cuddles for positive reinforcement.

Keep in touch with your vet, particularly if you have an older deaf dog, about ensuring it still has a good quality of life and no other health issues. Speak to them if you have any concerns.

Download and share the PDF about caring for a deaf dog: