We have found over the years that many Cavaliers become deaf or hard of hearing. There are a few reasons that dogs lose their hearing and very sadly there is nothing we can do to reverse this.
We certainly do take our senses for granted; it is only when we lose them that we realise how much we depend on them. When our dogs lose their hearing it is often a gradual process and as some Cavaliers are rather ignorant and distracted at times it may not be immediately obvious! Deafness is common as our dogs age but there are some ways you can help your dog adjust and lead a very fulfilled life.
There are a few reasons for loss of hearing in Cavaliers, Cavalier Health have a dedicated page which is very informative https://www.cavalierhealth.org/deafness.htm
For many dogs it is the nerves in the ears that degenerate, similar to hearing loss as we age.
How do you know if your Cavalier is deaf?
- Not responding to their name being called
- Not noticing the door bell ring or loud noises that would usually cause a stir
- Remaining asleep when you are entering and leaving the room
- Some have reported disorientation and imbalance
- Excessive barking
- The best test we have found is rustling something like a crisp packet when they aren’t looking at you- all Cavaliers would be interested in food related rustling! Or alternatively a squeaky toy.
Helping a Cavalier that is hard of hearing
If your Cavalier is either losing their hearing or is already deaf there are things you can do to make their life better.
- The first thing is to get them checked over by the vet to ensure there isn’t an ear infection or other issue causing a temporary deafness that is treatable.
- Some dogs definitely can become more anxious and startle more easily. We have known them to become more frightened when on walks, for example there could be a person they haven’t heard that is suddenly right in front of them and that really can scare them.
- You need to be extra careful when letting them off their leads, they cannot hear cars and other vehicles so are at risk of an accident. Unless they are looking at you it will be extremely difficult to catch their attention to call them back. We often use longline leads for the deaf dogs so they can still have a good sniff and run but remain safe.
- Try to walk to the front of them and not startle them from behind. They will often be able to feel vibrations via the floor especially if you have wooden floors.
- Keep to a routine each day, this will really help your Cavalier remain settled. Even keeping meal times and exercise at approximately the same time each day is a plus.
- You can learn hand and body signals to continue to communicate with your dog, we have found a great easy to follow set of pictures here at d for dog
- You can purchase collars and leads that say ‘I am deaf’ on them which alerts others to be aware. Also attaching a small bell to the collar is useful so you know where they are in the house and garden as when you call them they cannot hear you.
Ultimately deaf dogs do have a wonderful quality of life, you just need to tweak a few things to make it easier for them.