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Deafness in dogs can happen at any time, but it is most apparent when your dog stops reacting to common events: the doorbell ringing, the sound of you pouring his food for breakfast or calling his name to come.

If your suspect your dog is deaf or experiencing hearing loss, approach him slowly during rest or sleep to avoid scaring him. Deaf dogs should always wear identification tags, and, for similar reasons, microchipping is very important.

Causes of Deafness in Dogs


This type of hearing loss is often termed “sensorineural hearing loss”. It results from missing or damaged sensory cells (hair cells) in the cochlea of the inner ear, and is usually permanent. Damage to the auditory nerve in the brain can cause neural hearing loss, which is also usually permanent.


Ear infections can interfere with your pet’s sense of hearing and need to be treated right away to prevent any long-lasting damage. The cause of the ear infection can affect how quickly a serious problem and possible deafness occur. The most common cause of infection is an infestation of ear mites, parasites that breed in the ear and create a waxy discharge as they feed on your pet.

Congenital deafness

Congenital deafness exists at birth and may be caused by developmental defects in the physiological apparatus of the ear. This usually occurs in the first few weeks of fetal life. A permanently closed ear canal and dead nerve cells of the cochlea are the most common origins of congenital deafness. This birth defect can be linked to one or more defective, recessive genes inherited by the parents.


Presbycusis is the most common form of acquired hearing loss in dogs. Like congenital hearing loss, it affects the receptors in the cochlea and their ability to transmit sound to the brain, but it’s specific to older dogs and generally comes from the degenerative effects of a lifetime of accumulated noise. Like congenital hearing loss, presbycusis is irreversible. 


Drug toxicity (ototoxicity) results from administration or application of a drug or chemical which either directly or indirectly. This destroys cochlear hair cells, resulting in hearing loss or even total deafness. Many of the same agents are vestibulotoxic, disrupting the sense of balance so that the animal has a head tilt and may walk in circles. The most common cause of ototoxicity is the group of drugs known as the aminoglycoside antibiotics. They include neomycin, tobramycin, and others. At times these drugs are the only treatment for a life-threatening infection, but they must be used with caution.


If your dog is not displaying any symptoms, had no falls, and is still quite young, there’s a slight chance their hearing loss could be related to tumorous polyp activity on the brainstem or surrounding the ear system. Tell your vet everything that’s going on so they can thoroughly diagnose the problem. This is really unlikely, don’t worry. Thoroughly check for all the above common reasons before jumping to scarier conclusions


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