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rojo's avatar

Anyone familiar with deafness, particularly in older dogs?

Asked by rojo (21960points) April 10th, 2013

I believe my dog is going deaf. Either that or he has developed a severe case of ODD late in life.

Over the past few weeks I have noticed that he doesn’t respond to verbal cues like he used to. He also startles easier when sleeping or not paying attention. It may have been gradual and I just didn’t notice but I think it is more likely something that has happened fairly suddenly. But it is not total, it seems like he hears sometimes, some things, but nothing I can identify as a constant. Sometimes he hears a clap, sometimes not. This morning I spoke in a deeper voice and he cocked his head like he heard but most of the time I get no response from this.
So, anyone, any insight into this? Have you had to deal with this in the past? Would a dog whistle get his attention and help keep him from danger? I have restricted his time in the front yard because I don’t know if he can hear traffic, not that it is that heavy.
If you are partially deaf and lost your hearing over time, can you tell me what he is experiencing?

I have a vet appointment next week but wanted some input beforehand. Thanks to all in advance.

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12 Answers

linguaphile's avatar

There are several web sites dealing with deaf dogs—you might be able to get tips from those sites, like Deaf Dogs Rock

Our dogs can hear, but we taught them many signed commands and they work equally as well—some examples:
go for a walk
go to bed
go for a ride
and to get them to shake our hand with their paw, we use friend

janbb's avatar

My dog was deaf the last few years of his life. My husband used to say, “Now that’s why he’s ignoring us.” I came up with some hand signals that he would (sometimes) respond to instead like a beckoning motion for “Come here.”. My vet said it doesn’t impact on their quality of life much and it didn’t seem to. Of course, you do have to be more careful with things like off-leash time.

picante's avatar

My dog lost most of his hearing in the last couple years of his life. I simply made sure that I didn’t “surprise” him when I approached him—I’d stomp the floor to create a vibration; and I’d use large hand signals to get his attention when he was generally looking in my direction. We had a real bond, so I always felt I could communicate well with him even without the benefit of sound.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@rojo I have 2 dogs one is months away from approaching his geriatric stages of life. The symptoms you talk about sound normal, my dog does the same type of thing. I also thought for awhile he was blind but I had that tested and he was cleared. To me he acts more like an old person regardless of it. And then every once in awhile he gets a surge of energy and acts like he is two and gets so out of breathe it scares me he hyperventilates, I worry he will have a heart attack. :/

If it helps any, I think you are doing the right thing just by watching him more carefully and taking him to the vet.

gailcalled's avatar

All three of my sister’s dogs eventually became deaf, but they broadcast their needs clearly.

They lived long after they lost their hearing (as I plan to).

Judi's avatar

Molly’s deaf, blind and a little senile. She takes pills for incontence and arthritis but I still love that old girl.

KNOWITALL's avatar

There’s a great book about non-verbal communication called Rosetta Stone that teaches you to connect to your dog that way. It’s for all dogs, not just deaf ones, but it taught me a lot of helpful things that changed my relationship with my rescue dog, and helped us connect on another level. Good luck at the vet!

ccrow's avatar

When one of my dogs got mostly deaf, she would hear me clapping even though she wouldn’t hear me call or whistle, then once she looked at me I could signal to her.

rojo's avatar

Ok, thanks to all. I am not sure whether my dog is just screwing with me, actually does have ODD or whether the ear drops have really helped. He seems to be able to hear much better this evening but his responses are still kind of, I don’t know, slow? Sometimes he reacts, sometimes he just stands there.
He seems to be able to hear the work squirrel ok.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My Sheltie Robbie was never enthusiasticly responsive to verbal commands. We always joked he was cat cat in a dog suit. By the time he was over 17, it was clear he never heard us coming and no longer reacted to thunder as he did when he was younger. His deafness did not bother him much but on more than one occasion he gave us a scare and we assumed he was dead because he seems totally unresponsive until we actually touched him and then he would react with a startle response. He had a long life and he was suddenly quite sick and died within less than two days.

Plucky's avatar

We went through many of the same things in the last couple years before our dog, Gus, passed.
I found that the sharp sound of a clicker worked wonderfully with him. He was also going blind, so physical signals didn’t work. By that time, he and I were very bonded. We had learnt how to read each other very well (had him for almost 16 years).

Deafness is usually gradual. Your dog will seem to have good days and bad (which makes you wonder if they just have selective hearing). Many times it is the surrounding noises that make it more difficult for them to hear what you want them to. So it will seem like a bad day but it’s really just interference for the dog. That interference could be anything…TV, radio, kids, microwave going, dishwasher, washer/dryer, etc.
Also, lack of hearing will not diminish quality of life. Dogs value/use scent and energy reading much more.

All you can do is love him and be more cautious in certain situations. Even the sweetest dog can snap if startled. Always help him be aware of his surroundings, especially in new situations. And make sure others who may interact with him know about his hearing.

I wish you and your canine pal the best.

rooeytoo's avatar

My 14 year old is definitely losing her hearing. But she still hears my whistle which is pretty loud and shrill. I truly believe she no longer hears my voice unless I bellow! But she is still active and happy and hungry so I don’t worry. The yard is secure and she is never out unless on leash so it is not really a great problem.

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