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How to Care for a Deaf Pet

Caring for a deaf dog

Deaf dogs retain a strong command of their senses. This means that losing their sense of hearing won’t have a profound effect on their daily activities. And fortunately, dogs that become deaf later in life can adapt without many problems. Keep reading for expert advice on caring for your deaf dog or cat.

Causes of Deafness in Dogs

Deafness may be congenital, which means a puppy is born deaf. It could also be an acquired condition - the cause of which can range from chronic ear infections, to ear injuries, trauma, or drug toxicity. Deafness could also be an age-related issue. That is very common in senior dogs. Fortunately, dogs that develop the problem later in life appear to have little trouble adapting to their handicap.

Most congenital deafness is hereditary, and most later-onset deafness is acquired. Congenital deafness is most common in dogs whose heads are white or nearly white. However, experts are still unable to explain the cause. There are, however, some solid white dogs, such as the Samoyed, with no deafness problems.

Are some dog breeds more likely to be born deaf?

Many dog breeds are predisposed to congenital deafness. The most common form of an ear problem that affects these predisposed breeds of dogs is called canine congenital sensorineural deafness (CCSD). Sensorineural (nerve) deafness is loss of auditory function because of loss of cochlear hair cells or auditory nerve neurons.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Deaf

If you suspect your dog has a hearing problem, try making a loud noise while he is asleep or not looking at you. Avoid stomping on the floor or ground or letting him see your movement. You can try using different sound ranges, such as blowing on a whistle, clapping your hands, or hitting a drum. Just make sure to avoid causing vibrations that your dog can feel rather than hear. You might also suspect that your dog is deaf when he stops running when you pour dog food into his bowl.

If your dog doesn’t show any type of response to the noises that you’re making, it’s highly recommended that you schedule an appointment with your vet for a thorough checkup.

The Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) is the gold standard diagnostic tool used for confirming hearing problems in dogs. It measures the response of the brain to a series of clicks that are directed into each of the dog’s ears.

How to Keep Your Deaf Dog Safe

Even if your deaf dog is highly trainable and is a keen observer of his surroundings, there are certain dangers that your pet can be exposed to. If you don’t have his attention, he won’t be able to know that you are giving him a warning. He won’t hear when you say “stop”, “stay”, “leave it”, etc. when he’s not looking at you.

Dogs are creatures of habit. They are quick to learn and figure out the daily household routine. They are also ultra-sensitive creatures and can read their owners’ emotions. If your dog is deaf, avoiding drastic changes in the household routine can do a world of good for their feelings of security and self-confidence. Being deaf doesn’t mean your dog will stop being involved in the household’s daily routine.

Hearing-impaired dogs are more attentive to other dogs in the home and tend to follow their lead. They are also quick to spot clues from other dogs that will tell them what’s going on in their environment.

Here are important ways to keep your deaf dog safe:

1. Pet-proofing is very important, more so if you have a deaf dog in the household. All things that your dog must not have access to, such as medicine cabinets and garbage cans, should always be well-secured.

2. Access to certain places, like the garage, should also be prevented. All doors that lead outside should always be closed. Your deaf dog can’t hear signs of oncoming traffic when he’s outdoors which can be very dangerous.

3. Never let your deaf dog go off-leash in an open area. A secured, fenced-in yard is the best place to let him explore without a leash.

4. You can train your deaf dog to respond to a vibrating collar. It can be used to get your dog’s attention to ensure her safety when you’re outdoors.

5. Add a tag to his identification collar to indicate that he is deaf, along with your contact information, in case he wanders off and you become separated from each other. Putting a bell on your deaf pet’s collar can help you keep track of his whereabouts.

Can I still train my deaf dog?

This is a common question of many pet parents who share their lives and homes with hearing-impaired dogs.

The notion that deaf dogs can’t be trained has been proven false. Deaf dogs are as easy to train as dogs with no hearing problems. The only difference is that hand signals are used when training deaf dogs instead of verbal commands. It’s important to have a clear hand signal for each action you want your dog to learn. It doesn't matter what the signals are, as long as you're consistent.

Deaf dogs can have a happy life. They can engage in almost all activities that normal dogs enjoy, including being therapy dogs or participating in agility and obedience competitions.

Read more:

Symptoms and Treatment for Ruptured Eardrums in Dogs

Common Ear Problems in Dogs

Ear Tumors in Dogs and Cats

Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your dog’s hearing or another condition?

Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.

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