Have you ever wondered how it is like to take care of a deaf puppy?
It is not as laborious you think if you know what you are dealing with in terms of the cause of deafness and extent. Puppies can be deaf in either one or both ears.
Unfortunately, certain dog breeds are more inclined to developing deafness either at birth or when growing old. Want to know more about this, read on.
This article looks into how to tell if your puppy is deaf.
What causes deafness in puppies?
There are a few reasons that may result in your puppy's deafness.
This occurs when a dog inherits the defect through DNA, or the inner ear gets an infection soon after birth. The inherited kind roots from a defect in the gene, and it then becomes the dominant, recessive, or sex-linked.
It may involve one or several genes. Dogs predisposed to congenital disabilities include Dalmatians, Jack Russell terriers, and any other breed with white coat or merle.
Chronic ear infection
These may be infections from viruses, bacteria, or fungi that can eat on the inner ear parts and lead to deafness.
Such cases mostly occur in one ear and may become fatal if the infection spreads further into the brain and other head parts. If not caught on time, chronic ear infections may lead to the death of the dog.
Dogs might incur injury from either being hit by moving objects or bumping into a stationary one. And when this happens, you should take the dog to a vet immediately.
The impact might cause issues in the ear canal, which may result in partial or complete deafness. If Insects get inside the ear, they might also hurt the inner membrane leading to deafness.
Some ingested harmful drugs might cause partial or complete deafness in dogs, and that is why you must always be aware of your dog's whereabouts every time.
You must keep them away from medicines meant for humans and away from poisonous plants that may introduce toxins get into the body.
Degenerative nerve damage
Also known as Canninie DegenerativeMyelopathy, it occurs when the dog's spine gets degenerated, and the hind limbs start becoming weaker.
The white matter found in the animal's spinal cord is the one that gets affected, affecting the nerve interconnectivity. Pugs are one of the species most likely to get this condition.
This nerve condition is gradual, and you may not realize until it is too late. Deafness is one of the side effects of this disease.
Just like human beings, old dogs experience a gradual deterioration of their senses. Eyesight and hearing are perhaps the most affected, and so a senior dog might become deaf in the later stages of their lives.
Although it is not a guarantee, most older dogs register reduced alertness to sounds. Indeed they may still be able to hear high pitched sounds, but their reactions might be a bit slower.
Deafness caused by old age is progressive and happens over some time. It is not a one-time thing.
How to Tell If Your Puppy is Deaf?
The first thing you will notice about a completely deaf puppy is that they do not respond to their name or a loud noise. But you cannot confirm the extent until you book an appointment with a vet to do an evaluation test.
But before you get to that, how to tell if your puppy is deaf while at home is through the following test theories. If you suspect deafness, try them and record the results to present to the vet.
When you wake up, does your puppy wake up with you? If they do, they are probably okay, but if your puppy stays asleep while you get up, they might be deaf.
When you are out of their field of vision and call their name or make a noise, do they respond in any way?
If a dog is partially deaf and you make noise on the hearing side, they will react. But if you make the sound on the deaf side, they will not respond. If they are completely deaf, you will not see any response.
Dogs are very light sleepers, so is your puppy always deep asleep? If they are, then they are probably deaf. And when they wake up, are they startled? If they are, then they might be deaf.
Now, if most of those answers are affirmative, then visit a vet who will carry out a test known as the BEAR test, which takes five minutes.
The BEAR test is called the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test in full. This examination looks at all the areas on the ear and checks if they are structurally okay, and their functioning is to par.
It looks at the external, internal ear, the canal, middle and inner cavity, the cranial nerve, and the brainstem areas responsible for hearing. It evaluates if the sound gets received by the brain as it should.
The BEAR test is also used for checking on the extent of the hearing loss. How to know if your puppy is deaf is confirmed after this test.
Are there any cures?
Curing of deafness in puppies will depend on the root cause of the deafness. If it is congenital and the genes are involved, nothing much can be done, and the owners have to adjust to living with the deaf dog.
If the case is caused by either an infection or injury and the damage is caught earlier before it became fatal, the hearing might be regained with medication. In the cases of viral, fungi, or bacterial infections, antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibiotics are used respectively.
Adjusting to a deaf puppies lifestyle
Now, assuming that the deafness of your pup cannot be reversed, then you might have to adjust your lifestyle to accommodate your dog.
Below are some of the things that can help you lead a pretty everyday life with your deaf puppy.
Learn to communicate using sign language
Puppies are curious animals that can learn so much at a very young age. Sign language for a deaf puppy is the best channel for communicating.
Start with simple gestures indicating food, running, and playtime. If you are not fully equipped with the skills, you could always consult your vet or even get some help through the internet.
Books and videos on dog sign language are in plenty.
Constantly monitor your puppy
Unlike a dog that can hear, calling a deaf dog is not possible, so you have to always keep an eye on them.
When you are outside the house, always have them on a leash as they are a danger to themselves since they cannot pick up sounds of danger like hoots, shouts, or alarms.
Train your dog using visual cues
Training a deaf dog might be a bit different, but it crucial. Instead of issuing out commands through sound, you can use tools like flashlights, flags, objects, or images to train your dog to master specific actions.
For instance, you could teach them to come to get food by raising a green flag or telling them you are approaching the door by flashing a torch.
Always wake them up slowly
Waking up a deaf dog is done gently by slowly approaching the dog near their nose to let them smell you first.
Then you proceed by tapping the puppy slowly so that they wake up without getting shocked. Avoid making unnecessary vibrations that may frighten the puppy into waking up in shock.
This may prompt them to attack, which is not the desired reaction. Deaf dogs can bite too, and that is why you must wake them up calmly.
Keep them calm
A deaf dog can get stressed pretty fast since they do not know what is happening around them.
Using visual cues, inform them you are leaving the house to avoid making your puppy anxious when they find out later you are not around. Create an environment where they feel comfortable and avoid switching their routines abruptly.
Living with a deaf puppy is different than leaving with a typical puppy. A deaf puppy needs a bit more care, but they are still as loyal and lovable as any other pup.
They are a likely companion that will stick by your side regardless of their condition. That said, return the favor and give them the best life in your care.
If you were unsure how to know your puppy is deaf, the causes, cures, and how to handle them, now you do.
There is nothing complicated about it. Once you make a few adjustments here and there, you and your dog will lead a pretty comfortable life. As happy as larks.