A white pit bull smiling.

Whether you are a human, a dog, or a cat, losing one of your main senses can really alter your world. Hearing loss can completely change your pet’s life.

Thankfully, just because a pet can’t hear or can’t hear well doesn’t mean that they can’t live healthy and fulfilling lives. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital has several tips for caring for a deaf pet that are sure to help them thrive.  

Recognizing Deafness in Pets

It’s not like animals just look at us and say “hey guys, I can’t hear you!” Deafness can be something a pet is born with, but hearing loss can also be acquired over time. So how do you know if your pet’s hearing is compromised?

Many times if you pay close attention, you will notice a deaf pet startling when they don’t see you or ignoring your calls and commands. It may just be certain pitches of sound that are not heard well. 

Hearing loss can be formally diagnosed with an electroencephalogram (EEG) brainwave study, but in most situations, this is not necessary and provides little benefit beyond confirming suspicions of hearing loss. 

Pet hearing loss can occur for many reasons. Some more common contributing issues include:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Anatomic defects or abnormalities
  • Injury to the ear or ear drum
  • Foreign body in the ear canal
  • Medication reactions
  • Nerve damage
  • Aging changes

With a few exceptions, once hearing loss has occurred it is typically not reversible. Allowing frequent pet wellness examinations, providing routine home ear cleanings, and letting us know right away if you feel that your pet’s ears or hearing are compromised can help to stay ahead of trouble.

Ways to Help Your Deaf Pet

If your pet has been diagnosed with hearing loss or deafness, there are certainly ways that you can help them. 

Our team’s favorite tips to help care for a deaf pet include:

  • Putting safety first—Animals rely on their sense of hearing to keep them safe, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. A deaf pet is more vulnerable to motor vehicles and other less-than-friendly animals. Be sure to supervise your pet outdoors and in new places. A leash is a good way to keep your deaf pet secure when you are out and about as well. 
  • Learn to communicate in a new way—Your deaf dog or cat may not be able to hear your voice, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate. Many pets are able to learn hand signals as commands. You can use a flashlight or vibrating collar to grab the attention of a deaf pet and a laser pointer can work well as a substitute for a clicker if you want to clicker train.
  • Ease anxiety—Pets who have recently lost their hearing may be stressed or anxious about their new world. Be sure that they have a secure and comfortable retreat such as a crate or area of your home where they feel safe. The use of pheromones can also help them to feel more secure. 
  • Don’t be suspicious—Don’t forget that your deaf pet may not hear you or other family members approaching, especially when they are resting. Use the vibrations from stomping on the floor or turning a light on and off to alert your pet of your presence. 

Deaf pets certainly need a little extra help, but they are perfectly capable of living a great life. Helping an animal with hearing deficits can be a very rewarding experience and enrich the human-animal bond. Embrace the unique connection with your four-legged best friend, no matter the reason for your pet’s deafness.