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Eight Tips for Coping With Your Dog’s Age-Related Hearing Loss

Reviewed by Dr. Alexis Seguin, DVM, MS, DACVIM on Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Posted November 12, 2015 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Sad Dog with Big Ears

The most common form of deafness in dogs is age-related hearing loss (ARHL). Most dogs experience some degree of ARHL, beginning sometime during their “third trimester” of life. ARHL begins by impairing perception of middle to high frequency sounds, but encompasses the entire range of sound frequencies as it progresses.

I suspect that most people don’t recognize their dog’s hearing loss until it is almost, if not fully, complete. They may mistakenly interpret their dog’s partial hearing loss as a behavioral issue, sometimes referred to as “selective hearing.”

Unfortunately, there are no standard strategies that restore hearing in dogs with ARHL. A 2010 study reported on three Beagles with age-related deafness who received middle ear implants (1). The results were equivocal and, to my knowledge, further investigation of this technology has not been pursued. Canine hearing aids have been tried, but are not right for every dog.

[Learn more about Hearing Aids for Dogs]

How you can help your dog with hearing loss?
Observing your beloved dog become less responsive because of hearing loss can evoke a laundry list of emotions such as sadness, frustration, and discouragement. While there may not be a good way to restore your dog’s hearing, here are eight things you can do to make a positive difference for both you and your dog.

1. Check in with your veterinarian
Verify that the only cause of your dog’s hearing loss is ARHL. Ear canal disease, such as a growth, foreign body, or infection, superimposed on ARHL may transition a dog from partial to complete deafness. Treatment of the ear canal disease may restore an acceptable level of hearing.

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Nancy has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified veterinary specialist in internal medicine as well as a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2014.