While it may seem like it would be totally obvious when a dog is hard of hearing, many owners are often quite surprised to learn that their dog has hearing problems. Whether these problems are permanent or temporary and whether they are minimal or extensive, they can cause a variety of uncomfortable issues for both you and your dog. Your dog’s inability to hear well can lead you to believe that your dog is deliberately ignoring or disobeying you. It can also potentially be dangerous for your dog, as they cannot easily hear the environmental cues that would normally signal danger. Depending on the cause or causes for your dog’s hearing loss, there may be a health issue that can progressively worsen if left untreated. If you can determine that your dog has hearing issues and the reason for these hearing issues, you will be able to handle any necessary health issues, interact with them more comfortably, and give them a more secure and safe environment.
Signs Your Dog Has Hearing Issues
There are many different possible causes for a dog’s hearing issues, including earwax build-up, ear infections, old age, injuries, antibiotics, antiseptics, chemotherapy drugs, toxins, and even complications caused by ear-cleaning products. Additionally, some dogs are born with congenital hearing loss, and some breeds of dogs, including the Australian Shepherd, the Boston Terrier, the Cocker Spaniel, the Dalmatian, the German Shepherd, the Jack Russell Terrier, the Maltese, the Toy Poodle, the Miniature Poodle and the West Highland White Terrier, are more susceptible to developing hearing problems at some point during their life.
Dog owners can certainly take action to try and prevent hearing issues from developing in their canine companion–for example by adopting their dog from a responsible breeder who can ascertain that there are no hearing issues in the dog’s lineage and by providing proper health care to their dog throughout their life. However, if your dog does develop hearing issues, it’s important to understand that they can still live a high-quality, happy life if you are able to recognize the problem and render the proper care and treatment.
When their dog begins to display the signs of hearing loss, some owners may simply assume that their dog is becoming more stubborn and inattentive as they age. Thinking this is normal, they may do nothing about it. In actual fact, many dogs that “suddenly” become stubborn or inattentive can no longer hear their owners, and a quick, proper diagnosis and treatment of their hearing issues could potentially restore some of their hearing, or at least help to make their life more comfortable. Following are five key signs that your dog may be hard of hearing:
- They don’t become startled by unexpected noises. It’s not unusual for all pets, and even people, to become startled by unexpected noises–like a dropped pan in the kitchen. However, if you notice that your dog seems entirely unbothered by these sorts of noises, especially if they once did start noticeably at them, they may have hearing issues.
- They don’t respond to cues. Whether you call your dog’s name or whistle a certain way to get their attention, they have a normal response that you both have become familiar with. When they suddenly stop responding to these cues or seem to be trying to figure out whether they are occurring, they may have hearing issues.
- They don’t turn their head in response to familiar or unfamiliar sounds. If your dog no longer turns his head at the sound of his favorite squeaky toy, or no longer perks up and turns toward unfamiliar sounds from outdoors–like kids playing in the street–they may have hearing issues.
- They are suffering from obvious ear issues. If your dog has a strong odor or discharge from their ears, is constantly shaking or scratching at their ears, or displays sensitive or painful ears, they may have an infection and hearing issues.
- They sleep through loud noises. While dogs certainly can fall into a deep sleep, they are still normally awoken by loud noises occurring around them–or at least by the sound of their name. If you find that you have to wake your dog by touching their body, they may have hearing issues.
Some dogs may also become quite upset about their sudden hearing loss, and may subsequently act timid, anxious or even aggressive when approached by someone out of their line of sight–even if it’s their beloved owner.
If you suspect your dog has hearing issues, it is important to get them to the vet right away. You need to determine the source of their hearing issues so that proper treatment can be rendered where necessary and appropriate. Some hearing loss may be caused by a treatable ear infection, where quick action may be able to prevent permanent and significant hearing loss and damage. A correct diagnosis can also set your mind at ease so that you better understand what your dog is going through and how you can help them.