It’s Deaf Dog Awareness Week
National Deaf Dog Awareness Week is the last full week of September. According to the AKC, as many as 5 to 10 percents of dogs have some degree of hearing loss, either in both ears (bilateral) or in one ear (unilateral). However, this doesn’t mean that you and your dog can’t enjoy a happy, active and fulfilling life together. In this blog, we’ll cover some of the causes, symptoms, and tips for living with a dog with hearing loss.
Causes of Deafness In Dogs
Deafness in dogs can have multiple causes. Some dogs are genetically predisposed to deafness. Dogs with white, merle, or piebald color patterns, as well as blue eyes, may be at higher risk for deafness.
Hearing loss in dogs can also be acquired. Some of the most common causes are from wax or debris buildup, untreated ear infections, medicine toxicity, injury and old age.
Signs & Symptoms of Deaf Dogs
Dogs can exhibit signs of deafness as young as one week old. Some of the most common signs include:
- Changes inattentiveness and obedience, such as failure to respond to familiar commands
- Difficult to wake when sleeping
- Not acknowledging every day sounds like doorbells/door knocks, vacuums or your voice
- Excessive barking
- Shaking or tilting their head
If your dog exhibits any of these signs, please see your veterinarian immediately. They will perform a series of tests to determine not whether or not your dog has hearing loss, as well as the degree of the potential loss.
Living with a Deaf Dog
Despite their disability, hard-of-hearing dogs are very trainable. However, there are some basics to keep in mind to make sure that your dog feels safe and comfortable.
- Approach your dog carefully. Dogs with hearing loss can be easily startled. To avoid this, stomp your foot when you get near them so that your dog can feel the vibration. Then, touch or pet them gently on the back to let them know you’re near.
- Sleeping dogs can be startled especially easy. To wake your dog, gently place your hand in front of your dog’s nose so that they can smell you. Then, pet them on the back as they wake up.
- Monitor their activity. With their hearing limitations, it’s important that deaf dogs are never left unattended when outdoors unless they’re in a fenced-in area. Since they can’t hear traffic or horns, keeping your dog on a leash in open areas is best.
- Alert others that your dog is deaf. To avoid strange touches or overwhelming situations, purchase a collar, harness or vest that indicates that your dog is deaf.
- Train your dog with hand signals. That’s right! Your dog can learn to recognize sign language. Animal Wellness Magazine offers this guide to help you learn more.
- Visual cues from flashlights or by turning the lights off and on can also grab a dog’s attention.
- Add a bell to their collar. If your dog is missing or gets lost in the house, a bell will help you find them.
Having a deaf dog can be extremely rewarding and offer unparalleled bonding experiences! Take time this week to celebrate the resiliency of these remarkable dogs (because deaf dogs rock), along with their pet parents.