While it is ideal for people (and pets, too) to be equipped with all of their senses, we are perfectly capable of functioning without one of them. There are many misconceptions surrounding pets that lack full function, in particular deaf dogs. At Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, though, we know that deaf dogs are perfectly capable of living wonderful lives.
Understanding Deaf Dogs
Dogs may become deaf in several manners. It may evolve slowly over a long period of time, or happen quite acutely. Sometimes both ears are affected, other times just one ear is involved.
Deafness may occur:
- As a congenital condition
- As a result of trauma
- Due to repeated ear infections
- Because of a problem in the brain
- Due to a blockage in the ear canal
- As a result of aging
- As a side effect to a medication
If you perceive your dog to be deaf, it is important to call us so that we can evaluate your pet. If an ear infection, growth in the ear canal, or foreign body is contributing, we may be able to fix it. Unfortunately, there are many causes of deafness that cannot be reversed, though.
Contrary to popular opinion, deaf dogs are not helpless. If your pet suffers from hearing loss, they may need a little extra help but in all likelihood is going to do just fine. You can, however, make some adjustments to help make things a bit easier.
Perhaps most importantly, you should take steps to ensure your hearing-challenged pet is safe. Hearing is one of the main senses used to make an animal aware of his surroundings, and when that is not working properly your pet may not sense danger as quickly. Supervise your pet when outdoors, especially in an unfamiliar location. Installing a secure fence is a great way to keep things like other animals out of your yard as well as to keep your dog away from motorized vehicles.
It is also important to do your best to keep your deaf pet from escaping your home or yard. Keep your pet’s identification tags and microchip information up to date. It doesn’t hurt to introduce your dog to the neighbors in case they ever see him out of your yard.
Take some time to teach your pet to respond to visual cues as well. A flashlight or laser pointer can be used to catch their attention. There are plenty of hand signals for your deaf pet to learn commands as well.
It’s human nature to feel sorry for a pet who is hard of hearing, but the reality of it is that deaf dogs tend to function very well overall. If you have a pet with hearing issues, please don’t hesitate to ask us for advice. We are happy to help all of our patients live great and fulfilling lives.