Hearing Loss in Older Dogs: Treatment and the Path Forward

In this series so far, we’ve outlined the science behind hearing loss in dogs and discussed how dogs hear. We’ve chatted about the importance of hearing for dogs and have gone over some of the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss in dogs so that you know what to look out for.

In conclusion, we’ll talk about what to do if your dog is going through hearing loss and how you can enhance his or her quality of life.

The first thing to acknowledge is that life is not over for your dog. Your relationship will change, no question about it, but your dog requires consideration, care and, most of all, compassion.

Safety First

Your dog’s safety is immensely important in the best of times, but when dealing with hearing loss in older dogs the issues of safety become even more crucial.  Here’s some tips for keeping your hard of hearing dog safe:

  • Make sure that you keep an eye on your dog at all times and ensure that he or she is kept in a fenced-in yard or on a leash at all times. Because hearing is so important in determining direction, older dogs with hearing loss will need more guidance.  Dogs won’t be able to hear things like oncoming cars or other dogs (not to mention wildlife) and this can put them in danger if they’re on their own without assistance.
  • Make sure that you’re with your dog if he or she is roaming around. And be patient, as your dog could take more time to explore areas than you might be used to. He or she takes more time to get his or her bearings.
  • Also, make sure that any guests and family members are aware of your dog’s condition. Because he or she may startle easily, you can keep your dog and your guests safe by making sure your pooch is approached with care and patience.
  • Don’t sneak up on your dog and make sure children know how to play with a deaf dog in a way that keeps everybody safe.

Communication is Key

Communicating with dogs experiencing hearing loss takes patience, but it can be a rewarding and exciting experience for all involved.  Here’s some help:

  • Start by thinking bigger. You’ll need to make more outrageous hand motions and provide bigger non-verbal cues than ever before.  Use hand signals to communicate and make sure that you mind your body language so that your dog gets a complete picture of what it is you’re trying to communicate. You’ll need to be patient, as your dog won’t always latch on to your meaning immediately.
  • As your dog gets older, start integrating these non-verbal cues into your daily conversations with your dog. This will help him or her get used to the signals so that he or she can interpret them properly when and/or if their hearing starts to go.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of your dog’s hearing loss.

Love and Understanding

A little love and understanding can go a long way when it comes to living with a deaf dog.  Be kind and patient with your dog and you’ll find yourself on the right track.

If you prioritize his or her safety and comfort, it’s hard to imagine going wrong. Talk to you veterinarian about some specific treatments and coping mechanisms and, most importantly, give your best friend some extra hugs and kisses.