4 min read


Can Dogs Hear Tinnitus?



4 min read


Can Dogs Hear Tinnitus?


The sense of smell and hearing are the dog’s keenest senses. Losing any of them is very debilitating, and the same goes if your canine friend has issues with any of their senses. Now, dogs are very adaptable, and you might not even consider that something might be wrong with your canine friend if there are no signs.

One of the most frequent issues with elderly dogs is hearing loss, which comes with quite a number of symptoms. But this isn’t the only way dogs can lose their hearing—health issues, such as ear infections, can also affect hearing. Even conditions like tinnitus can affect dogs, but it’s really hard to determine whether your dog might be suffering from such a condition.

Signs of Dogs Hearing Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a rather pesky thing to deal with—you hear ringing in your ears. Usually, this ringing isn’t very loud, but is bothersome when there are no other sounds that can mask it. Most people suffering from tinnitus say it’s loudest when they go to sleep, as this is the only thing they hear. Some get used to it, but others can’t.

It’s is also quite difficult to determine whether someone has tinnitus if they don’t tell you that their ears are ringing. So how can a dog tell you that? As with anything else that our canine friends can’t tell us directly, it’s important to look at your dog’s behavior.

There are certain signs that can help you determine that your dog might be suffering from tinnitus or other hearing issues. The most common ones include:

  • Head tilting – your dog might start tilting their head as a response to lack of sound, or a constant sound (tinnitus) that suddenly appeared.

  • Ears dropping – your dog might drop their ears if they have issues with their hearing, especially if the underlying cause is an infection, trauma, or obstruction of the ear canal.

  • Raised ears – if your dog has hearing issues that cause them to hear ringing, they might react to sounds that actually aren’t there by raising their ears.

  • Pacing – any medical issues, which also includes hearing-related issues, will often make your dog pace around because they will be stressed out.

  • Barking – barking is another common response to not hearing well, or hearing a sound that just doesn’t go away.

  • Whining – your dog might be stressed about the change in their hearing and might whine, cower, even become depressed.

Body Language

Some signs that indicate that your dog may suffer from tinnitus include:

  • Barking
  • Head Tilting
  • Whining
  • Ears Drop
  • Pacing
  • Raise Ears
  • Head Bobbing

History of Dogs Hearing Tinnitus


Our dogs have adapted to life with us in a number of ways, and one of them is using their sense of hearing to determine how we really feel, to respond to our commands, and become super hyped when we ask about “walkies.” There have even been several studies that have shown that dogs do indeed listen in on the intonations of our voice to determine whether we are happy or sad.

Dogs rely heavily on their hearing, which is not surprising as their ancestors used it to hunt their preferred prey (mice and other vermin). A dog that can’t hear can become depressed, disoriented, or even aggressive, as it’s hard to adapt to such a change, especially if it’s abrupt. Gradual hearing loss or onset of issues like tinnitus is often not as debilitating, as it gives your dog plenty of time to get used to it.

Understanding hearing issues in dogs is an area that is still heavily researched, but even now, there are certain hearing aids - even implants, that can help your dog hear better. The downside is that they are rather costly.

Science of Dogs Hearing Tinnitus


Your dog’s hearing is one of their most important senses. Dog hearing issues will always cause a lot of discomfort and your dog might be quite disoriented and scared because suddenly, they can’t hear that well.

The reason for hearing issues, tinnitus included, are many. Tinnitus can be triggered as a consequence of damage caused by prolonged exposure to loud sounds, or as an aftermath of an ear infection, or other health-related issues like a ruptured eardrum. 

Four major groups of causes include conduction (when the sound doesn’t even reach the ear canal), nerve issues (like degenerative diseases, poor development, infections, and inflammations), various toxins and side effects of drugs, as well as other factors like genes or chronic inflammations.

In order to get a good diagnosis on what caused the hearing issue, you will have to consult your veterinarian and a full check-up with all the tests will have to be done to find any underlying causes. Sometimes, it’s an inflammation that usually goes away with antibiotics, but it can also be something that is much more serious.

Another rather odd occurrence that can happen is that there can be an actual tone that’s emanating from your dog’s ear, which you can hear quite clearly. This phenomenon is known as otoacoustic emission, which has been observed both in humans and in dogs. Even though the emission might seem like a debilitating condition, dogs and humans often have normal hearing in both ears. It can be rather bothersome, but it isn’t life threatening.

Training Dogs that Hear Tinnitus


If your dog is suffering from hearing issues, which might also include tinnitus, it’s important to adjust to this. For instance, your dog might not respond to commands the usual way, react to usual daily sounds, and if your dog’s diagnosis is permanent (hearing loss and other chronic hearing issues), it will take some time for your dog to adjust to their new situation.

In the adjustment period, it’s important to spend a lot of time with your dog and find the optimal way to communicate. Visual cues will become much more important now, so it’s best to train your dog to respond to hand movements as opposed to sound.

Have questions or concerns about your pet?

Chat with a veterinary professional in the Wag! app 24/7.

Get Vet Chat

Written by Charlotte Ratcliffe

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 06/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
Need to upgrade your pet's leash?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews


© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.