6 Causes of Deafness in Dogs
By John Gilpatrick
Hearing loss in dogs can happen gradually and doesn’t manifest itself with other physical symptoms. Dr. Kathryn Winger, an assistant professor of veterinary neurology at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says the most common signs of hearing loss include a lack of response to being called; no reaction to loud noises like the doorbell or other animals or people; being easily startled or harder to arouse; not interacting normally with littermates (for puppies); and being extra rambunctious or vocal. However, this doesn’t account for unilateral deafness, or hearing loss only affecting one ear, which Winger says often goes unnoticed.
If your suspect your dog is deaf or experiencing hearing loss, approach him slowly during rest or sleep to avoid scaring him. Deaf dogs should always wear identification tags, and, for similar reasons, microchipping is very important, Winger says. “They should always be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard, as they may not sense threats, and they will have limited recall. You also need to train them using visual cues, rather than verbal ones,” she adds.
But to best care for a deaf dog, it’s helpful to understand the causes of hearing loss. Some of them are treatable, while others are sadly irreversible.