Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital’s Blog
Can a Deaf Pet Have a Good Life? Absolutely!
Special needs pets have, well, special places in our hearts. After all, they tend to have even more love to give and are equally (if not more) deserving of our admiration.
Indeed, despite significant physical challenges, an animal with a certain disability can stun us with their exceptional adaptations. A deaf pet, for example, can absolutely lead a happy, healthy and long life. With a little extra support from a caretaker, they can cope with their limitations, stay out of danger, and have fun, to boot!
What We’re Talking About
Deafness can affect one or both ears, and can be explained by the following possible reasons:
- Congenital – Many pets inherit deafness from their parents. In dogs, it is most common in Dalmatians. Less than 10% of all American-born dogs are born completely deaf, while almost 25% of all dogs have single-sided deafness.
- Trauma – Injury to the ear(s) or overexposure to loud noises can cause deafness. Chronic ear infections can also damage the ears.
- Age – As pets age they can start to lose their hearing. Like humans, it can start to slide until signs of loss of pronounced.
Connecting the Dots
Pets understand what’s happening around them by interpreting body language. This is particularly true for pets that have lived their entire lives with the same people.
A deaf pet may have a slightly steeper learning curve, but can definitely learn from watching people and undergoing rigorous training. Of course, keeping a deaf pet safe is a huge concern for pet owners.
- Because they wouldn’t be able to hear oncoming traffic or approaching strangers, a deaf pet should not be allowed to roam. Always be sure that they are properly contained, kept on leash at all times, and with complete identification (such as an “I’m deaf” vest, collar, and tags).
- Be sure that your deaf pet is microchipped. If you are ever separated from them, this gives an added layer of protection.
- Training is crucial to their safety. Hand signals and a positive reward-based training method will ensure success. A subtle vibration collar can help reinforce your approach to commands/signals like come, sit, stay, and down.Teach them when they are doing something right, and give them cues to watch you.
- Sneaking up on a deaf pet is easy, so take extra care not to startle them. Touch them before they see you. Desensitize them by touching them in the same way, on the same part of their body, to get their attention. Alternatively, extend your hand near their nose and give them the chance to smell you. Be sure to give them a tasty food reward each time.
Loving a Deaf Pet
Adopting a deaf pet can be one of the most rewarding experiences of all time, but it comes with extra responsibilities.
Similarly, loving and living with a pet that loses their hearing over time can also be challenging. Be on the lookout for a diminished response to everyday sounds. Watch for reduced reactions to approaching footsteps, shaking a bag of treat, and a failure to come when called.