A dog listening with a big ear.

Animals are pretty instinctual. They rely heavily on their senses to get around in the world. While our domestic pets are much less dependent on their sight, hearing, and sense of smell than are their wild counterparts, loss of a sense can still be a major challenge.

Pets with hearing loss often need a little extra help. If you are a pet parent to one of these furry individuals, Godspeed Animal Hospital has the information you need to communicate with your deaf dog.

How Deaf Dogs Happen

Deafness in animals can be sudden (acute) or slower onset (chronic). It may be in one or both ears, and in some cases is only temporary. Just as with people, pets may experience hearing loss for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Blockage of the ear canal with wax, hair, or a foreign object
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Aging
  • Injury to the ear
  • Drug reaction
  • A genetic or developmental problem

While there is not always a way to prevent hearing loss, you certainly can do your part to take care of your pet’s ears. Have your pet examined frequently, especially if he or she is prone to ear infections, or if you suspect a problem. 

Helping Pets with Hearing Loss

If your pet, as many pets do, has experienced full or partial hearing loss, fear not. Pets with hearing loss can live very full and good lives. When you are caring for a hearing-challenged pet, be sure to:

  • Learn to communicate–Help your deaf pet learn hand signals. You can also use light signals by carrying a flashlight or laser pointer to help get your pet’s attention when necessary. You may also wish to alert them with a gentle touch when you come and go so that they are aware of where you are. You might be wondering if you can train a deaf dog, and the resounding answer is yes. A hearing-impaired dog can do anything any other dog can with hand signals and touch training for deaf dogs.
  • Keep your pet safe–Animals do need their hearing to protect themselves adequately. Keep this in mind when your pet is outdoors. A pet whose hearing is compromised may not recognize that danger such as an oncoming car is present. It is best to avoid letting these pets outdoors unattended. A securely fenced yard or leash are their best friends.
  • Keep yourself safe–Pets who cannot hear may startle easily, and sometimes startled animals snap or otherwise try to protect themselves. Alert your pet to your presence by creating vibrations (think stomping on the floor) or using a penlight. 

Pets without hearing have a few extra challenges, but they tend to do quite well. You may need to learn a new way to interact with each other, but chances are that you both can enjoy your friendship just as much, if not more, than before. Communicating with a deaf dog can take a little effort, but it is well worth it for the friendship you earn in return.