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Pet Hearing Loss

deaf dog with perked up ears

3 Hand Signals Your Pet Can Learn

Hand signals can be a very effective way to communicate with your pet, whether your furry friend is hard of hearing or you're simply in a noisy place. Spend a few minutes each day teaching your pet these three signals. Don't forget to encourage your pet during the training process with treats.

Sit

Keep your hand flat with your palm facing down. Moving your hand downward slightly to indicate that your pet should sit. Gently pressing on your pet's hindquarters as you give the command may make it easier for your pet to understand what the signal means.

Come

Hold your hand in front of you with your palm facing toward you. Bring your hand toward your body to indicate that you want your pet to come to you.

Good Dog or Cat

Your pet may no longer be able to hear you tell him what a good boy he is, but you can show him with a hand signal. Any signal that you use consistently, such as thumbs up or the okay sign, can help get your point across.

Many of the same health problems that affect us, including hearing loss, also affect our pets. Fortunately, most pets adapt very well to the disability with a little help from their owners.

What Causes Hearing Loss in Pets?

Some pets are born deaf or hard of hearing, while others develop hearing loss at some point in their lives. Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to heavy metals, such as mercury or lead, or may occur after your pet takes certain medications, including chemotherapy drugs, diuretics or antibiotics.

Tumors in the ear canal or brain may be responsible for hearing loss or deafness. Other potential causes include untreated ear infections, hypothyroidism, distemper, injuries or exposure to toxic household products.

Hearing loss may also occur as part of aging. Deterioration of the nerves used in hearing or thickening of the ear canal can gradually reduce your older pet's ability to hear.

Are Some Pets More Likely Than Others to Experience Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is linked to genetics, in some cases. The problem is more likely to occur if the pet has white pigments in its fur. In fact, approximately 80 percent of white cats with two blue eyes will show signs of deafness as early as four days after birth, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The problem occurs due to degeneration in the cochlea in the inner ear. The cochlea turns vibrations into nerve impulses and sends them to the brain, which interprets the nerve impulses as sounds.

Pigment-related deafness in dogs occurs when blood supply to the cochlea is restricted, causing nerve cell death. Although pigment-related hearing loss can occur in any breed, two genes that cause this type of deafness are more commonly found in certain breeds, such as Great Dane, Collie, Old English and Shetland Sheepdogs, Samoyed, Dalmatian and Bull Terriers, according to Louisiana State University veterinarian Dr. George M. Strain.

What Are the Signs of Hearing Loss in Pets?

If your pet suffers from hearing loss, you may notice one or more of these signs:

  • Your pet no longer comes when called or exhibits other changes in behavior.
  • Your dog or cat doesn't react to loud noises.
  • Your pet can suddenly sleep through anything, even loud thunderstorms.
  • Your cat meows constantly, or your dog barks more than normal.
  • Your pet tilts its head to one side.
  • Your dog or cat doesn't show up the minute you open a can of pet food.

How Can I Help My Pet?

Take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as you notice any signs of deafness. Although treatment is not possible in all cases, if the hearing loss is caused by an inflammation, infection or tumor, medications or surgery may help restore some or all of your pet's hearing.

If the hearing loss is permanent, it will take a little while for you and your pet to adjust to the new situation. Keep your furry friend safe by using a leash during walks. Getting your pet's attention can be a little difficult. Pointing a flashlight or laser near your dog or cat (but away from his or her eyes) can be helpful. In the past, your furry friend may have known that a slamming door meant that you had left the house. If your pet doesn't see you leave and can't find you, he or she may become upset. You can prevent confusion by starting a goodbye ritual that you'll use every time you leave the house.

Are you worried that your pet may be suffering from hearing loss? Call us today to schedule an appointment.


Sources:

PetMD: Hearing Loss in Dogs

http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/ears/c_multi_Deafness?page=show

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Deafness

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/Deafness.cfm

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals: Genetics and Inheritance of Canine Deafness

http://www.ofa.org/deaf_genetics.html

Whole Dog Journal: Training the Hearing Impaired Dog Is Not Difficult, 9/03

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/6_9/features/5570-1.html

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Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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