Deaf Pets: Living with Cats and Dogs Suffering from Hearing Loss
Pets suffering from hearing loss need our love, too. The Advisory Board provides tips on living with a deaf pet!
This week, Petside is celebrating Deaf Pets Awareness Week! Each year, the last full week of the month of September is dedicated to raising awareness about deaf pets, and the special relationship they can have with humans. In honor of the occasion, we've asked the Petside Advisory Board what considerations must be made by someone who owns a deaf pet or someone who is looking to adopt a pet suffering from hearing loss. Here's what they had to say:
Hearing loss shouldn’t be a deterrent to a potential adopter. We have adopted numerous hearing impaired dogs and cats at Bideawee. One, a Boston Terrier named Alvin, lives with one of our Vice Presidents.
A few words of advice on living with a deaf pet. Training can be a challenge, but not an impossibility. The main hurdle is finding a way to get the pet’s attention before you issue a command. There are vibrating collars on the market that do just that. Giving a reward for eye contact can be helpful and of course the use of hand gestures to replace voice command is needed. A good trainer can assist you. Alvin knows all his basic commands, but is very good about playing the “Hey, I’m deaf” card when he doesn’t feel like obeying.
When approaching a deaf animal, it is a good idea to walk with a heavy foot. You want to avoid startling them, which could evoke a negative response. However, it is important to know that hearing impaired pets do adapt to their environment and can be conditioned to respond appropriately when sneaked up on or awakened from a deep sleep.
Handicapped pets often get overlooked in a shelter because of misconceptions or myths associated with that particular handicap. But those animals have unconditional love to give too. Don’t dismiss the special needs pets; they may not get "Best in Show", but they can still steal your heart.
For someone adopting a deaf pet the important thing to remember is they can’t hear you calling, so outside cats and dogs are at a disadvantage because if a dog or cat runs outside they cannot hear a car coming, etc. Dogs are very good at responding to hand signals and a lot of deaf pets adapt so well that people meeting them for the first time are not even aware that they do not hear.
Firstly, anyone who owns or adopts a special needs pet is a very special person. In addition to the typical needs--love, compassion, food, companionship and shelter--deaf pets require some extra attention. Remember: they can't hear you call them for dinner, or warn them of a car approaching. There are vibrating collars, visual cues that can be used, and other options to ensure your deaf pet is properly cared for. A great list of resources can be found at http://www.deafdogs.org/faq/ and http://catanddoghelp.com/index.php.
All domesticated animals require our care, but none more so than those who are hearing-impaired. Deaf pets must always be kept in a safely enclosed area or on a leash, as they cannot hear dangers approaching. Pets who are hearing impaired can easily be taught using gestures or hand signals.
- Filed Under: Advisory Board