Our springer/cocker mix, Mary, recently turned 12. During the past few months, she’s experienced ear problems, including debris from rolling in the grass and infection, from rolling in the snow. Spaniels are prone to ear infections due to the type and length of their ears; the breed is also prone to deafness. Mary has allergies, both environmental and food, and therefore, is also easily susceptible to ear infections, especially after being groomed or rolling in snow (water in the ears).
My husband and I recently noticed Mary's lack of response when we called her name and her sleep is deeper than ever. These are potential signs of deafness.
Loss of hearing in dogs occurs for many reasons; one of those is aging. My husband and I have traveled this road before. In 2011, our then 12-year-old springer spaniel Sage became deaf. That experience was especially difficult because Sage was also blind. Her hearing loss caused her anxiety because she had relied on that sense so heavily due to her blindness. We worked with her, however, and those additional trainings via the sense of touch generated calmness and greater trust.
How do you know your dog is losing its hearing? According to the Drake Center of Veterinary Care, there are several symptoms of deafness. Those include:
Read more about deafness and its symptoms here: http://www.thedrakecenter.com/services/dogs/blog/deaf-dogs-living-hearing-loss.
Although some dogs, especially older ones who have lost their hearing gradually, may adjust to deafness, others may experience anxiety, just as Sage did. Work with your dog in different ways to help your canine friend as we did. Some ideas include:
Animal Magazine provides an article about training with hand signals. Visit their online site here to learn more: https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/sign-language-deaf-dog/..
Adjusting to a disability such as deafness can be a challenge, for both you and your pet. However, that challenge can be met with grace, perseverance, and patience. Just as we humans must adjust to our changing bodies and mental capabilities as we age, we can adapt to the changes in our pets, and be a strength and comfort to them as they, too, adjust to the changes that take place as they age.
Read more about living with a deaf dog here: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_10/features/Senior-Dog-Going-Deaf_20100-1.html.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.