How To Test Your Dogs Hearing

It’s normal for dogs to lose some or all of their hearing as they age and for their mental faculties to begin to wane as they get older. Here are some warning signs that your dog may be having trouble hearing correctly. If your dog’s hearing is in good shape, it’s wise to be aware of these behaviors now.

If your dog no longer reacts to the same triggers, such as the rattle of a full food dish or the sound of a knock at the door, it may indicate that he is suffering from hearing loss. Some pet owners claim that their animals have selective hearing, however this is typically due to a dog engaging in an activity that he finds more intriguing than its owner.

Your dog may no longer be able to hear your car pulling into the driveway or your key turning in the lock if he no longer greets you when you arrive home after always doing so.

Most animals will glance up or around when they hear a noise to determine where it is coming from. By gently entering the room so that your dog doesn’t see you, you can test your dog’s hearing by clapping your hands from a distance to see if he responds. This should only be used as a test because it might occasionally be shocking to approach a deaf dog without warning.

When being stroked when your dog is asleep, he or she could act astonished and possibly startle out of sleep.

You can use a dog whistle to see if he can still hear the higher range if he isn’t responding to being called but may still listen to higher-pitched sounds.

Is it possible to test a dog’s hearing?

How well can you hear when your dog is around you? Are you familiar with the methods for testing your dog’s hearing? Depending on your dog’s age and general health, you might or might not think about these issues.

Until there is a problem, people typically take their own hearing and that of their dogs for granted. When hearing is determined to be partially or fully lost, the likelihood that it may recover depends on the underlying cause.

The majority of animals have normal hearing throughout their lives, particularly in their adolescent and adult years. The most susceptible to developing hearing impairment are senior pets (those older than seven) and those with ear infections, trauma, toxic exposure, glandular problems, and cancer.

How to tell if your dog is hearing compromised

There are a few simple tests that owners can use to determine how well their dog hears. First, pay close attention to your dog’s routines. You might observe that

  • When you get home and the garage or front door opens and closes, he doesn’t come to meet you.
  • Your dog no longer reacts when his name is called or to other noises, to which he ordinarily turns his head or positions his ears.
  • He might not acknowledge your presence until he hears the sound of your feet on the ground.
  • Your dog is no longer aware of the other canine or feline household pets, who can now appear to sneak up on him and invade his personal space.

You can check your dog’s hearing by creating a loud noise while standing somewhere he can’t see you (loud whistle, clap, jingle of keys, tap on a fixed or movable object, etc.). He might not hear you as clearly if his head doesn’t turn or his ears aren’t in the same place.

Any worries about hearing loss should be discussed right away with a veterinarian. An otoscope should be used during a physical examination to view the ear canal and tympanum (eardrum).

Common causes of hearing loss in pets

The medical word for ear irritation, otitis, can have a wide range of underlying causes and contributory variables. There are numerous otitis classifications, including:

  • Outer ear irritation is known as externa (ear flap and canal external to the ear drum)
  • Middle ear irritation is known as media (internal to the ear drum but separate from the labyrinth)
  • Inner ear irritation is known as interna (affecting the labyrinth, which include the semicircular canals and cochlea)

Basically, hearing will be diminished whenever a sickness condition affects the diameter of the ear canal or obstructs the usual passage of sound to the eardrum.

The inflammation that results from atopic dermatitis (non-seasonal inhalation allergens), seasonal allergies, food allergies, flea allergy dermatitis, and other conditions can lead to otitis.

The microenvironment of the ear changes and becomes more conducive to the growth of infectious organisms like bacteria and yeast when there is ear inflammation.

Ear mites are parasitic organisms that typically affect young dogs, those who spend most of their time outside, and those who don’t receive regular grooming and medical attention.

Ototoxicity is the loss of hearing due to toxic exposure. Some antibiotics, such as aminoglycosides like Gentamicin, might harm hearing when administered topically, intravenously, or orally. Additionally, several chemotherapeutics, ear cleaners, and diuretics have the potential to cause ototoxicity.

After using a Gentamicin-based veterinary ear medicine as directed to treat Staphylococcal infection in his outer ear canal, I recently witnessed a patient lose hearing in one ear and momentarily lose it in the other. I have thus stopped administering such treatments to my patients and have looked for safer substitute drugs and cleaning techniques.

Depending on the extent of the damage, blunt trauma to the skull, neck, or other body regions may cause hearing loss. Hearing loss can result from being struck by a car, getting kicked by a horse, falling down a flight of stairs, and other traumas.

Hearing can be hampered by malignant and non-cancerous tumors that take up space in the inner ear or ear canal. The tissues surrounding the inner ear structures can be compressed by masses that develop inside the skull (intracranial), which can result in hearing loss. Otoscopic examinations can reveal ear canal masses. Advanced imaging methods, such as an MRI conducted under general anesthesia, can detect intracranial masses.

Due to insufficient levels of circulating thyroid hormones, glandular illnesses such hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) can impair nerve function.

Can diagnostic testing assess my dogs hearing?

Yes, the BAER test (brainstem auditory evoked response) can reveal whether or not your dog has hearing. Veterinary neurologists are more likely to offer this test than general practice veterinarians.

While sound impulses are being guided into the ear, the patient needs to be physically restrained, maybe mildly sedated, and maintained in an exceptionally motionless position. When the cochlear nerve is stimulated, electrodes positioned beneath the skin in front and behind the ear detect sounds and display a waveform response on the BAER’s display. There won’t be any waveform response if the patient isn’t hearing. Sadly, BAER does not distinguish between different levels of hearing loss.

What can I do to protect or promote my dog’s ability to hear?

The best strategy to encourage regular hearing is typically to keep your dog in good general health and to keep his ear canal clean.

Make sure your dog’s ear canals are kept clean because dogs who have chronic ear inflammation or infection are more likely to develop hearing loss. Request an ear cleaning demonstration from your veterinarian and advice on the best cleaning solution to use and how frequently to flush your ears.

I advise cleaning for the majority of my patients every 7–30 days (weekly–monthly) or whenever water could enter the ear canal (bathing, swimming, etc.).

Have your dog’s blood checked annually, or as your veterinarian instructs, if your dog is an adult or senior, to check for hypothyroidism or other organ system changes that might be a factor in nerve dysfunction and hearing loss.

As soon as possible, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a checkup if you believe your dog has lost some hearing. If your dog’s problems cannot be entirely resolved by your general practitioner veterinarian, request an appointment with a veterinary neurologist to more thoroughly diagnose hearing loss.

How can you know if a dog has one ear deaf?

Dogs with normal hearing can precisely locate noises using the sounds picked up by both ears. While you are out on a walk, a dog who is deaf in one ear might hear you calling, but they might not be able to tell where you are. They can wildly scan the area until they find your location, then turn around and return.

The greatest significant disadvantage encountered by totally deaf canines is likely the diminished capacity to recognize danger. A deaf dog runs a higher risk of crossing a busy road to view a dog on the other side because it cannot hear its owner while it is out for exercise. Household appliances, railroads, and agricultural and garden equipment are more examples of dangerously loud goods. Only in secure, confined areas can deaf dogs be let off the leash.

How do veterinarians examine a dog for hearing loss?

Owners and veterinarians can assess a patient’s responsiveness to loud noises, such as clapping hands or smashing an object, or high-pitched noises like whistling to test an animal’s hearing. Though straightforward, this is the most useful approach to determine whether an animal can hear. Puppies and some adult animals, however, do not reliably react to these noises. Additionally, animals with hearing loss in one ear are frequently missed by this kind of stimulus-response testing. A hearing test known as the BAER test can be used by neurologists.

Does my dog suffer from hearing issues?

There are various symptoms that could indicate hearing loss, particularly in elderly dogs:

  • abrupt disobedience and/or disregard for verbal orders
  • a heightened startle response
  • a lot of barking
  • unresponsive to common noises, such as a knocking
  • Lack of interest or more sleep
  • Head trembling or tilting

First and foremost, if your dog begins to ignore commands, hearing loss may be the cause. When a dog becomes deaf, they first lose the capacity to hear high-pitched sounds, so if a whistle doesn’t work, try clapping or clicking while looking away from your dog. Additionally, you might observe a general lack of movement and struggle to wake your dog.

What dog breeds are more likely to become deaf?

Animals who are deaf lack (or lose) their capacity to hear, which can be either a complete or partial loss. If the dog is congenitally deaf from birth, you will notice it very early on. The Australian shepherd, Boston terrier, cocker spaniel, Dalmatian, German shepherd, Jack Russell terrier, Maltese, toy and tiny poodle, and West Highland white terrier are only a few of the canine breeds known to be susceptible to deafness. Usually, older dogs are more likely to experience it.


  • Conduction (sound waves do not reach the nerves in the ear)
  • diseases of the external ear canal and the outer ear infection (e.g., narrowing of the ear canal, presence of tumors, or ruptured ear drum)

How old do dogs become deaf?

Congenital anomalies, persistent ear infections, head injuries, drug toxicity, degenerative nerve changes, aging, or diseases like a tumor or burst ear drum can all result in deafness.

Congenital deafness is more common in some breeds, including Dalmatians, English setters, Australian shepherds, and Jack Russell terriers. Early-onset deafness is primarily due to congenital factors and is usually irreversible, especially in breeds prone to it.

While the exact source of this issue is unknown, we do know that congenital deafness and coat color are related. Congenital deafness may be more common in dogs with mostly white or merle coats.

Senile deafness progressively sets up and typically appears around the age of thirteen. While many elderly dogs experience hearing loss but never go entirely deaf, the loss that has already happened is irreversible.

Often, accumulation in the ear canals causes temporary deafness. Some dogs may have extra hair in or around their ears in addition to wax buildup. Hearing loss can result from a blockage in the canal formed by this hair when it gathers wax and debris. With the right care, this kind of deafness might be cured.

How much does it cost to test a dog’s hearing?

Veterinarian Fees The average expense of diagnosis is limited to the typically inexpensive Baer tests needed to make the diagnosis. However, specialized training might be pricey if top-notch experts are hired.

Do hearing dogs snooze more?

  • It’s crucial to gently wake your dog up because some deaf dogs sleep deeper and longer than hearing dogs (especially new puppies).
  • Spend some time getting your dog’s attention by gently waving your hands in front of their nose until they can smell you and awaken on their own. You may also softly touch your dog to help them awaken.
  • Using a tasty-smelling goodie to gradually awaken or capture your deaf dog’s attention is another excellent technique to engage their sense of smell.
  • They’ll be scared if you startle them awake, and you might get bitten.

Can dogs develop hearing loss?

Usually, when we think of dogs with disabilities, we immediately picture canines with blatant, noticeable defects. For instance, we might see a dog with three legs, one eye missing, or even one that is paralyzed. We can exclude the possible invisible impairments a dog is coping with. One of these unrecognized problems is deafness.

“To better understand how to live with a canine companion who is deaf, it is vital to filter through the myths.”

In every other respect, hearing and deaf dogs are the same. It’s crucial to filter through the erroneous information when learning that a dog is deaf or if we are thinking about adopting a dog who is deaf in order to understand how to live with a deaf canine companion.

How do dogs become deaf?

Just like humans, dogs can develop hearing loss as they age. Since this usually happens gradually, it could be challenging to observe. Sound transmission is less efficient as the eardrums become less flexible. Chronic ear infections in dogs can cause hearing loss. Others might experience an ear trauma that leaves them without hearing. Congenital deafness is the term for when a genetic flaw causes some canines to be born deaf. Congenital deafness is typically a pigment-related condition, and the majority of affected dogs have all-white or mainly white coats. Given that they have color in their eye irises and possibly in some areas of their skin or coat, these canines are not albinos, which are completely devoid of any pigment. Breeds like the following are examples of those whose pigmentation causes deafness:

  • Australia Terriers
  • Dalmatians
  • Dane dogs
  • British Corgis

How will I know if my dog is deaf?

Generally speaking, figuring out whether a dog is deaf is not too difficult. Deaf puppies may appear to be slow learners since they do not respond to their names or understand vocal directions. It’s possible for older dogs with acquired deafness to snooze through your return from work.

A dog’s hearing can be checked at home with a few quick tests:

  • shake the keys.
  • Shuffle a toy
  • Clap your hands in the dog’s direction.
  • Toll a bell
  • whistle

It’s crucial to take these actions when your dog can’t see the noisemaker because otherwise, they can misinterpret the visual cues and give a false reading. It is likely that the dog is deaf if you get no answer.

Do I need to worry about any special health concerns with a deaf dog?

No. In general, there are no particular health concerns associated with deafness. It is advisable to be cautious about sun exposure because deaf dogs with a white coat may be more susceptible to sunburn. Additionally, some merle dogs (often a patchwork of gray, silver, and black; red and gray; or shades of red) can have eye issues, but this is not particularly frequent.

How do I train a deaf dog?

Deaf dogs pick up on paying attentive attention to their surroundings fairly fast. Because of this, training with their instincts is simple. Since dogs naturally look to their owners for leadership, we may train them to correlate particular hand signals and body language with the actions we want once we have their attention. It could be beneficial to enlist the aid of a qualified trainer with knowledge of working with deaf dogs. For further details, refer to the pamphlet “Teaching and Training a Dear Dog.”

What else should I be aware of to help my deaf dog?

The most crucial thing to keep in mind while dealing with a deaf dog is that it is deaf. Although it may seem clear, we have an unique obligation to deaf dogs. They must never be allowed to be off leash on or close to a street since they cannot hear approaching cars or a honking car horn. We must be careful to only let them off leash in designated areas because they cannot hear to respond when called.

It’s vital to avoid sneaking up on them and startling them since some deaf dogs may sense a vibration in the ground as we approach them, while others might not. Often, a solid tap on the ground close by is all that is required to wake them or catch their attention. Teaching kids how to treat deaf canines with respect is also crucial.

Deaf dogs can live normal, long, rich, and happy lives with a little thinking, compassion, and training (for both the dog and the human).