As dogs age, they come across several health issues, and hearing loss is one of them. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hearing loss in senior dogs is relatively common, affecting around 75% of canines over the age of ten. Fortunately, there are several ways to help your senior dog adapt to hearing loss and maintain their quality of life. In this blog, we’ll discuss some tips to help senior dogs with hearing loss.
Understanding Hearing Loss in Senior Dogs
Before we get into the tips, it’s important to understand the different types of hearing loss that dogs can have. Age-related hearing loss is the most common type, and it usually starts with a decreased ability to hear high-pitched sounds. Over time, the hearing loss may progress to include lower frequencies. There are several factors, such as breed, genetics, ear infections, and exposure to loud noises, that can contribute to hearing loss. Other causes of hearing loss in dogs include ear infections, ear trauma, tumors, and exposure to loud noises.
Signs of hearing loss in senior dogs
Signs of hearing loss in senior dogs can vary depending on the severity and type of hearing loss. Here are some common signs that may help you understand that your senior dog may be experiencing hearing loss:
- Decreased responsiveness to sounds or commands
- Failure to react to loud noises, such as doorbells or car horns
- Increased barking or vocalization
- Difficulty locating the source of sounds
- Sleeping more soundly than usual
- Increased startle response when touched or approached from behind
- Showing signs of confusion or disorientation
- Behavior changes, such as becoming more withdrawn or anxious
If you notice any of these signs in your senior dog, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the exact cause and severity of the hearing loss.
Tips to help with hearing loss in dogs:
Tip #1: Keep Your Home Safe and Secure
One of the significant challenges of hearing loss in senior dogs is that they may not hear potential dangers, such as cars, other animals, or even people approaching. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your home safe and secure to avoid accidents. You can install baby gates to block off dangerous areas or even consider fencing in your yard to prevent your dog from running into the street.
Tip #2: Use Visual Cues
When a dog loses their hearing, they rely more on visual cues to communicate. Therefore, it’s crucial to use hand signals or body language to convey messages to your senior dog. For example, instead of calling your dog, use a hand signal to let them know it’s time to come inside or to follow you. You can also use a flashlight or strobe light to get their attention in a dark room.
Tip #3: Establish Routines
Establishing routines can be helpful for dogs with hearing loss. Dogs thrive on predictability and consistency, so having a set routine can help them feel secure and comfortable. Try to feed your dog at the same time each day, take them on walks at the same time, and keep their sleeping area in the same location.
Tip #4: Use Vibrations
Dogs with hearing loss may still be able to sense vibrations. Therefore, you can use a mat or vibrating collar for dogs to keep them attentive of any possible danger around them. You can also stomp your foot on the floor to create a vibration that your dog can feel.
Tip #5: Provide Mental Stimulation
With age, dogs become less active, leading to boredom and depression. At such a time, providing mental stimulation is crucial to keeping your senior dog engaged and happy. If you can feel that your dog is feeling depressed: cheer him up with these essential tips. Apart from this, you can play games that use their other senses, such as hide and seek or scent games. Puzzle toys that dispense treats can also provide mental stimulation and keep your dog entertained.
Tip #6: Keep Your Dog’s Environment Quiet
Loud noises can be stressful for dogs going deaf, causing anxiety and stress. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your dog’s environment as quiet as possible. You can use noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to block out loud sounds like fireworks or thunderstorms. You can also keep the TV and radio turned down low or off altogether.
Tip #7: Speak Clearly and Slowly
If you know that your old dog is going deaf, then you should be extra cautious while communicating with them. In such a condition, you should speak clearly, and slowly and avoid yelling or shouting, as this can be confusing and frightening for your dog. Instead, speak in a calm and reassuring tone. You can also use a deeper voice as this may be easier for your dog to hear.
Tip #8: Regular Check-Ups
To deal with hearing loss in dogs, regular check-ups with your veterinarian is essential, especially, if your dog is getting old. Your vet will check for underlying health issues that may be contributing to hearing loss, such as ear infections or tumors. They can also recommend hearing aids for dogs or other devices that can help your dog hear
Tip #9: Provide Comfort and Support
Hearing loss can be stressful and scary for your dog, no matter whether he is still young or getting old. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide comfort and support to help them adjust. You can provide a safe and comfortable space for your dog, such as a soft bed or a crate. Also, provide them with pheromone sprays or diffusers to help your dog feel calm and relaxed.
Tip #10: Use Treats and Rewards
Offering treats and rewards can be an effective way to train your senior dog and reinforce positive behaviors. When using visual cues, such as hand signals, reward your dog with a treat when they respond correctly. This positive reinforcement can encourage your dog to continue following commands and can help build their confidence.
Tip #11: Consider Hearing Aids
If your senior dog’s hearing loss is severe, you may want to consider hearing aids. Hearing aids can improve your dog’s quality of life by amplifying sounds and making it easier for them to hear. Your veterinarian can recommend the best hearing aids for your dog and provide guidance on how to use them.
Tip #12: Be Patient and Understanding
Finally, it’s essential to be patient and understanding when helping your senior dog adjust to hearing loss. Your dog may become confused or frustrated, and it may take time for them to adapt to new routines and communication methods. Be patient and understanding, and provide plenty of love and support to help your dog through this transition.
Hearing loss in senior dogs is a common issue, but there are several ways to help them adapt and maintain their quality of life. By opting for the tips provided in the blog like using visual cues, establishing routines, providing mental stimulation, and using treats and rewards, you can help your senior dog navigate their hearing loss. Meanwhile, remember to be patient and understanding, and provide plenty of love and support to help your dog through this transition. Hopefully, with these tips, you can help your senior dog live a happy and healthy life, even with hearing loss.