Canine deafness is a common problem, especially in older animals, but it can be caused by a congenital problem and appear in puppies. It is important to know if your dog is deaf as this can affect his safety. A deaf dog that cannot hear a car approaching may be run over, run into the bush, not hear it being called, and get lost.
Method 1 of 3: Observing the Signs of Deafness
Step 1. Take your dog's breed into consideration
Some breeds have a higher risk of congenital deafness (of being born deaf) than others. These include: the Dalmatian, Australian Cattle, Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, Beagle, Border Terrier, English Bulldog, Poodle, Papillon, Pointer, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Shetland Shepherd.
Keep in mind that, regardless of breed, all puppies are deaf until they reach the 10-14 day old mark. After that, their ear canals open up
Step 2. Pay attention to see if your puppy bites harder than the others in the litter
Maybe he can't hear the complaints that would indicate to him that he's being too violent.
If your puppy is deaf, it is possible that he will be the last of the litter to eat, as he cannot hear the feeder being placed on the ground. While others respond quickly to the sound of the food bag, a deaf puppy will seem not to notice it or continue to sleep
Step 3. Replace verbal with visual or physical commands to test your puppy's hearing
In general, it's more difficult to train a dog if he's deaf, as he doesn't hear commands. However, you need to be able to differentiate rebellion from deafness using visual commands.
For example, if while playing with the puppy, it bites very hard, instead of screaming, try blowing it hard in the face while holding one hand up making the “stop” sign. If the puppy is obedient but deaf, he will quickly learn that the palm of your hand facing him is equivalent to a nasty blow in the face, and will ease with bites
Step 4. Watch the dog to see if his ears move with noise
A deaf dog's ears don't move as much as a deaf dog's. While hearing puppies move their ears to better localize a sound by lifting them or pulling them to one side, a deaf puppy will not do this.
Step 5. Watch to see if your grown dog's habits and tendencies have started to change
As part of the aging process, dogs can have hearing loss and become deaf.
- Maybe your dog is going deaf if he doesn't wake up when you get home from work like he used to, or he's no longer afraid of loud sounds like the vacuum cleaner, thunderstorms or fireworks.
- An older dog who starts to suffer from deafness may become more disobedient, not come to you when called, not perform commands when he can't see you or appear to understand you only when you're in his field of vision, and not hear what did you say.
- A dog with a hearing loss can also be easily frightened because it cannot hear other people or animals approaching. For example, your dog may jump or growl when you approach him from behind.
Method 2 of 3: Taking a Home Hearing Test
Step 1. Close the lids of two pans, clap your hands and blow a whistle
If your dog doesn't react to any of these sounds, he may be deaf. You can even turn on the vacuum cleaner or shake a jar of cookies out of sight.
Step 2. Always produce these sounds at a good distance from your dog
Do not do this home test too close to your dog, as his other senses will be too sharp if he is losing his hearing.
- If, for example, he feels a breeze in his whiskers when you hit a pot, or he feels vibrations on the floor when the vacuum is on, it might look like he can hear the noise.
- Keep in mind that your dog may be deaf in only one ear while he is hearing in the other, being able to react in some way to these tests. The only difference is that it can look around, as if confused, trying to locate the source of the sound.
Step 3. Take your dog to the park and call his name as he runs
Of course, some dogs are simply rebellious or distracted, not deaf. Watch to see if his habits outside the home have changed or not.
- An obedient dog that cannot hear its owner's call may appear confused or stressed. His head could go from side to side and he could go around in circles, as if he was lost.
- When he takes distance, the dog can look for you visually.
- If you call out his name, his ears should lean towards the source of the sound. So pay attention to see if his ears are moving in random directions or if they snap back to the right spot.
Method 3 of 3: Taking a Vet Test
Step 1. See a veterinarian
While your veterinarian uses many of the hearing tests mentioned here, he will also examine the dog's ears for signs of an infection, discharge or swelling impairing the dog's ability to hear.
Step 2. Talk to your veterinarian to order a BERA exam
The BERA exam (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) is a sophisticated laboratory test that can be used in two ways. It can give you a yes or no answer about whether your puppy is deaf, or it can give you a more complex reading to determine the specific degree of deafness in your dog. The second type of test requires your puppy to be sedated and is rarely used.
Equipment for performing the BERA test is expensive and difficult to find in Brazil
Step 3. Give the expert permission to take the BERA test
During the exam, a series of clicks are repeated in your dog's ear canal through headphones. Three small electrodes are placed on his head. They measure the brain's response to clicks.
- The electrical response is recorded and interpreted by a computer program that shows whether or not the dog has passed the test. Then, with the test results, your veterinarian can confirm that your dog is deaf.
- This test can be conducted without sedation.