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The Aging Canine Ear: Understanding Hearing Loss in Dogs and How to Manage It

As dogs age, they often experience changes in their hearing, just as humans do. These changes can range from mild to severe and can have a significant impact on a dog's quality of life. In this article, we will explore what happens to dogs' hearing as they age and the percentage of dogs that experience hearing loss.

What happens to dogs' hearing as they age?

As dogs age, their ears undergo changes that can affect their hearing. These changes can include a loss of sensitivity to high-pitched sounds, a decrease in the ability to hear sounds in noisy environments, and an increase in the threshold for hearing low-frequency sounds. These changes are a natural part of the aging process and can vary depending on the breed and individual dog.

Percentage of dogs that experience hearing loss

According to the American Kennel Club, approximately 10% of dogs experience hearing loss, with the percentage increasing as they age. However, some breeds are more predisposed to hearing loss than others. For example, Dalmatians, English Setters, Australian Cattle Dogs, and Bull Terriers are among the breeds that are more prone to hearing loss.

Signs of hearing loss in dogs

If your dog is experiencing hearing loss, you may notice several signs, such as a lack of response to sounds, difficulty locating the source of sounds, increased barking, and a change in behavior. Your dog may also become more reliant on visual cues, such as hand signals, to communicate.

Managing hearing loss in dogs

If you suspect that your dog is experiencing hearing loss, take them to the veterinarian for an evaluation. The veterinarian can perform a hearing test to determine the extent of the hearing loss and recommend appropriate management strategies.

Management strategies for hearing loss in dogs can include:

  • Training your dog to respond to visual cues instead of auditory cues

  • Using hand signals instead of verbal commands

  • Keeping your dog on a leash when outside to prevent them from wandering off

  • Avoiding startling your dog by approaching them from behind or touching them unexpectedly

  • Making sure your dog is in a quiet environment when sleeping or resting

  • Using a vibrating collar or other device to get your dog's attention

  • Providing your dog with a safe and secure environment


Hearing loss is a common issue in dogs, especially as they age. By understanding what happens to dogs' hearing as they age and the signs of hearing loss, you can take steps to manage the condition and improve your dog's quality of life. If you have any concerns about your dog's hearing, speak to your veterinarian, who can provide guidance on managing hearing loss and keeping your dog safe and healthy.

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