Being the Ears for Your Deaf Pet
Whether you have an animal who was born deaf or one who becomes deaf during the course of his or her life, coping with hearing loss takes effort. Owning a deaf pet can be a challenge, but with the help and support of the team at Animal Family Veterinary Care, it’s a role you can successfully take on.
Understanding Pet Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is something many pet owners will need to address at some point. Most pets experience some loss of hearing slowly as they age. As opposed to the sudden development of deafness, this scenario tends to be much more manageable for animals and their owners.
Pet hearing loss can occur for many reasons, including:
- Chronic infections
- Anatomical defect
- Reaction to medication
- Nerve damage
- Foreign bodies
- Age-related changes
Many times, there’s not much to be done once hearing loss occurs. Frequent wellness exams, regular at-home ear cleanings, and a swift diagnosis are important to staying ahead of hearing loss. Let us know right away if you suspect any problems.
Helping Your Deaf Pet
If your pet has hearing loss, never fear; there’s plenty you can do. While caring for a deaf pet requires a little extra time and dedication, you can rest assured your efforts will never go unappreciated.
Your primary goal is to keep your pet safe and to help him or her navigate the surrounding world.
Be sure to do the following:
Help your pet steer clear of danger. Because animals utilize hearing to assess their surroundings, a deaf pet is at a bit of a disadvantage. In the comfort of your living room, this may not be a huge problem; however, when your pet ventures outdoors or enters a new environment, the stakes are higher. Take caution by supervising your deaf pet when he or she is outdoors and utilizing a leash when adventuring.
Communicate creatively. A common challenge when caring for a deaf pet is that you can’t just yell “Here Fido!” whenever you want his or her attention. Thankfully, sound is not the only way to communicate. Take some time to teach your pet hand commands and work to capture his or her attention with a flashlight, laser pointer, or other visual cue.
Ease your pet’s worries. Because animals rely on their hearing so much, a deaf pet (especially one who loses their hearing suddenly) may experience a lot of anxiety. Be sure your pet feels secure in his or her home environment. A crate can be a safe, comfortable den for many animals. Make a point to communicate your comings and goings. Be sure to observe body language and remember not to startle your pet. Vibration or visual cues, such as a light, can help get your pet’s attention without startling him or her.
Deaf pets may have a few special needs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do everything a fully hearing pet can do. Helping a hearing-challenged pet can be a rewarding experience and can create an even stronger bond between animal and caregiver.