OLD AGE RELATED DEAFNESS IN DOGS
Dogs can be born without the ability to hear because of developmental defects. Also loss of hearing can be caused by infections, trauma to the head region, blockage of the ear canal by wax or debris building up, prolonged use of some prescription drugs, some poisonous substances or improper cleaning of the ear canal itself.
Senile deafness comes on slowly as the dog ages. It may not be apparent at first unless there is partial loss of vision too.
A dog with complete loss of hearing usually barks less, is difficult to arouse from sleep and is unresponsive to voice commands. The sound of the dogs voice may also change in timber (he can’t hear himself, thus the voice change). Also the ears are not as active as they once were, they don’t perk up at sounds anymore or tilt towards sounds.
Senile deaf dogs often can still hear very high-pitched sounds, such as dog whistles. Stamping on the floor may also work to get their attention, as they feel the vibrations.
Most dogs compensate very well with vision and/or hearing loss, especially if it is a gradual process, giving them time to adjust to it. Of course, you, the owner needs to take more precautions with his safety than before. Remember he can no longer hear a vehicle coming or one backing up in the driveway.
Also, many older dogs who are or have loss their hearing and/or sight must now be approached more carefully. Meaning a dog, who has never snapped at someone or something before may now do so if SURPRISED by not knowing it is you who suddenly touches him. Some deaf dogs may now start to exhibit signs of fear when SURPRISED by something around them.
Just remember to treat your special, older canine friend in ways befitting his age and loss of hearing and/or sight.