How to Tell If Your Dog Is Deaf? [Signs & Test]

by | Jun 10, 2022 | Health & Wellness


Is your pet showing signs of hearing loss? It’s not uncommon for pets to experience deafness as they age. However, recognizing the signs of hearing loss in pets can be challenging. In this article, we will discuss five common signs that indicate your pet may be going deaf. From not responding to their name to being startled easily, these signs can give you valuable insight into your pet’s hearing health. Identifying the signs early on allows you to take the necessary actions to ensure your pet’s comfort and overall well-being.

Common Causes of Pet Hearing Loss

Just like humans, pets can experience hearing loss due to a variety of reasons. Some common causes of pet hearing loss include:

Age: As pets get older, their hearing abilities may naturally decline. 

Infections: Ear infections can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss in pets. It is crucial to monitor your pet’s ears for any indications of infection and seek veterinary care when needed.

Trauma: Head injuries or exposure to loud noises can cause damage to your pet’s ear structures, resulting in hearing loss.

Medications: ertain medications, such as specific antibiotics or chemotherapy drugs, may have side effects that can result in hearing loss in pets.

Recognizing the Signs of Pet Hearing Loss

Identifying hearing loss in pets can be challenging, as they may compensate for it by relying on their other senses. However, some common signs can indicate your pet is experiencing hearing loss. These signs include:

Lack of Response: If your pet no longer responds to their name or familiar sounds, it could be a sign that they are having difficulty hearing.

Startling Easily: Pets with hearing loss may become easily startled or jumpy, as they are unable to hear approaching footsteps or sudden sounds.

Increased Vocalization: Some pets may start vocalizing more than usual when they experience hearing loss. This could be their way of compensating for their inability to hear.

Sleeping Through Noises: If your pet sleeps through loud noises that would normally wake them up, it could be an indication of hearing loss.

Disorientation or Confusion: Pets with hearing loss may appear disoriented or confused, especially in unfamiliar environments.

Diagnosing Canine Deafness

Diagnosing deafness in dogs primarily involves veterinary procedures that are designed to test the dog’s hearing capabilities. One of the most common and effective methods is the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test.

The BAER Test

Procedure: The BAER test measures the brain’s electrical response to sound. During the test, electrodes are placed under the dog’s skin: one on the top of the head and others in front of each ear. Small earphones deliver specific sounds into the dog’s ears.

Process: When sounds are played, the electrodes record the brain’s electrical activity in response to these sounds. This activity is then displayed as waveforms on a monitor, which the veterinarian interprets.

Expectations During Consultation:

Preparation: The dog may need to be sedated to keep still during the test, especially if it’s young or particularly active.

Duration: The test is quick, typically taking around 15 minutes.

Interpretation: The vet will explain the results and indicate whether the dog has normal hearing, partial hearing loss, or is completely deaf.

Provide a diagram of the BAER test being performed on a dog.

Treatment and Management of Canine Deafness

Reversible Causes: Some forms of deafness, like those caused by infections or blockages, may be treatable. Veterinary intervention can potentially restore hearing in these cases.

Irreversible Deafness: For permanent deafness, the focus is on management rather than treatment.

Understanding the Impact of Hearing Loss on Pets

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a pet’s quality of life. Just like humans, pets rely on their senses to navigate the world around them. When hearing is compromised, it can affect their overall well-being and behavior. Some potential impacts of hearing loss on pets include:

Reduced Communication: Pets with hearing loss may have difficulty understanding commands or communicating with their owners and other animals.

Increased Anxiety: A pet that can’t hear may become more anxious or stressed, as they may feel more vulnerable without their ability to detect potential threats.

Isolation: Hearing loss can result in social isolation for pets, as they may struggle to interact with others and comprehend their environment.

Safety Concerns: Pets experiencing hearing loss may face increased risks of accidents or injuries, as they may not be able to hear danger signals or warnings.

Steps to Take If You Suspect Your Pet Is Going Deaf

If you suspect that your pet is experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to take the following steps:

Consult Your Veterinarian: Make an appointment with your veterinarian to assess your pet’s hearing.

Make Environmental Adjustments: Create a pet-friendly environment by removing potential hazards and providing visual cues to help your pet navigate their surroundings.

Adjust Communication Techniques: Instead of relying solely on verbal commands, use hand signals or visual cues to communicate with your pet. This will help them understand and respond to your cues more effectively.

Avoid Loud Noises: Protect your pet’s hearing by minimizing exposure to loud noises or using ear protection during particularly noisy events.

It's important to consult your veterinarian if you think your dog is showing signs of deafness.

Tips for Communicating with a Deaf Pet

Communicating with a deaf pet requires some adjustments and extra attention. Here are some tips to help you effectively communicate with your pet:

Use Visual Cues: Incorporate hand signals or gestures into your communication to replace verbal commands. 

Establish Eye Contact: Get your pet’s attention by establishing eye contact before giving them a visual cue or command. This will help them focus on you and understand your communication.

Reward Positive Behavior: Reinforce your pet’s understanding and response to visual cues by rewarding them with treats or praise. Positive reinforcement will encourage them to continue following your cues.

Be Patient: It may take time for your pet to adjust to the new communication methods. 

Use visual cues with your dog if you think they may be going deaf.

Assistive Devices for Deaf Pets

There are various assistive devices available that can help improve the quality of life for deaf pets. Some common assistive devices include:

Vibrating Collars: These collars emit vibrations to get your pet’s attention or signal commands. They can be helpful in training and communication purposes.

Flashing Light Collars: Collars with flashing lights can provide a visual cue to help your pet understand commands or locate you in the dark.

Hearing Aids: In certain instances, hearing aids may be a viable option to enhance a pet’s hearing capabilities. Consult your veterinarian to see if this option is viable for your pet.

Signaling Devices: Devices that emit visual or vibrating signals can alert your pet when you want their attention or need to communicate something important.

Assistive devices can greatly enhance your pet’s ability to navigate their world and communicate effectively, providing them with a better quality of life.

Preventing Hearing Loss in Pets

While some causes of hearing loss in pets cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk:

Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Plan routine appointments with your veterinarian to oversee your pet’s overall health, including their hearing.

Ear Care: Keep your pet’s ears clean and free from infections by regularly inspecting and cleaning them according to your veterinarian’s recommendations.

Noise Control: Minimize exposure to loud noises, such as fireworks or loud music, which can cause temporary or permanent hearing damage.

By taking these preventative measures, you can help maintain your pet’s hearing health and reduce their risk of developing hearing loss.

How Can Pet Insurance Help?

Because medical costs can add up, pet insurance helps ease the burden of these costs. Odie Pet Insurance offsets the cost of injuries, illness,  and preventative care for dogs. Pet insurance gives you control over your budget without burdening you with unexpected vet bills. Odie pet insurance makes your pet’s medical care manageable. 

Because Odie’s pet insurance offers several dog plans, you can decide which fits your budget and your pet’s needs best. 


This method is the most common for pet insurance companies. You pay out of pocket for the veterinarian bill, and then the insurance company reimburses you for what’s covered under the insurance plan. The steps look like this.

  • You pay the vet bill after your dog’s visit.
  • You fill out the pet insurance claim form.
  • Submit the claim form and other required documentation to the insurer. 
  • After the claim is approved, you will be reimbursed for eligible expenses. 

Odie’s Illness and Injury pet health insurance plan offers comprehensive coverage for your dog. 

Odie’s Pet Insurance Plans

Illness & Injury Plan

This insurance plan is Odie’s most comprehensive plan covering illness and injuries your dog may incur. This plan covers:

  • Emergency vet visits
  • Surgeries
  • Overnight hospital stays
  • X-rays
  • Prescription meds
  • Lab tests
  • And much more

Accident-Only Plan

Odie’s Accident-Only Plan covers wounds, injuries, and vet treatments, including X-rays, Ultrasounds, tests, and emergency care your sweet pet might need if they accidentally get injured. 

Wellness Plan

This add-on plan guarantees you can keep your dog up to date on their vaccinations, heartworm checks, and other routine checks. 


Indeed, recognizing the signs of hearing loss in your pet is fundamental for their overall well-being and quality of life. By gaining insight into the common causes, identifying the signs, and taking appropriate measures, you can offer the essential support and care your pet needs.

Communicating effectively, using training techniques, and utilizing assistive devices can help your pet navigate their world without hearing. Remember that early detection and intervention ensure your pet’s comfort and happiness. So, if you suspect your pet may be going deaf, don’t hesitate to consult with your veterinarian and take the necessary steps to support your beloved companion.

*Updated on April 19, 2024


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