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Celebrating Deaf Dog Awareness Week

by LifeLearn in Pet Health on 20 September, 2013

September 21-27 is Deaf Dog Awareness Week, led by Petfinder and the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund. It’s our hope that the campaign will continue to spread awareness about owning a deaf dog. Although temporary, partial or bilateral deafness can affect many dogs, they still make warm, caring companions and trainable pets.

What Causes Deafness in Dogs?

Severe and permanent deafness in dogs is caused by many of the same factors that cause deafness in humans, including injury to the ear, genetic defects, and old age. Dogs my also experience temporary hearing loss as the result of wax build-up in their ear canals. Certain breeds are more susceptible to this because they have narrower ear canals and more fur around their ears.

If you notice that your dog is less responsive to you or no longer comes running for familiar sounds (like a doorbell, or food pouring into a dish), it’s time for a professional veterinary assessment. Your veterinarian can examine your dog’s ears to detect any blockages, wax accumulation, injuries and infections that are affecting hearing and responsiveness.

Caring For a Deaf Dog

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty in Animals has some helpful guidelines for the many ways owners can communicate with a deaf dog. These include:

  • Train your pet to recognize hand signals instead of vocal commands.
  • Use a heavy stomp of the foot when you need to get your dog’s attention- they can often feel the vibration in the floor.
  • Try to gently tap or pet your dog to announce your presence or your exit.
  • Avoid letting your deaf dog wander outside alone, unless you have a fenced yard. There are obvious dangers with letting your dog anywhere near traffic and other hazards that he or she won’t be able to hear approaching.
  • Consider attaching a bell to your dog’s collar. This makes it easier to locate your dog quickly in the house or in the event of an escape.
  • Be sure that all of your collars bear an alert that your dog is deaf.
Your Responsibility in Preventing Deafness

Although some forms of deafness in dogs cannot be prevented or treated, there are actions you can take as a pet owner to help your dog avoid temporary or avoidable forms of hearing loss. Be sure to monitor your dog’s ears for wax and hair build-up. Your veterinarian can help you to clear the ear passages for better hearing. At the first signs of any ear distress, take your dog to the vet. Any infection of the ear canal should be properly diagnosed and treated with prescribed medication.

Above all, know that deaf dogs require our careful attention, support and love. In spite of their hearing loss, deaf pets can read our body language and pick up on a variety of other sensory cues. In honor of Deaf Dog Awareness Week, let’s celebrate the devoted owners of deaf dogs who enjoy a rich and rewarding relationship with their pets.

 

 

Additional Info

  • Written by: LifeLearn / MyPetED.com
  • Caution: These news items, written by LifeLearn Inc., are licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of LifeLearn Inc. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by your clinic veterinarian.