When Your Pet Can’t Hear


Deafness is often difficult to assess accurately, mainly because pets are not able to tell us when they have trouble hearing. Usually, it is their failure to obey our commands or respond to familiar noises that first alerts us to a deafness problem.

Compared to humans, dogs and cats have a much different range of hearing. Humans can hear sounds in the 20 Hz (low sounds) to 20 kHz (high sounds) range. By comparison, a cat has a range of about 48 Hz to 85 kHz and a dog has a range of about 67 Hz to 45 KHz.

Deafness in dogs and cats can be of two kinds: conductive or sensorineural. If sounds cannot travel properly in the external or middle ear (i.e., sound does not conduct properly), the problem is said to be conductive. This can occur when there is an ear infection, a ruptured eardrum, blocked ear canals or fluid in the ear. Usually, in these patients, hearing loss is only partial and treatment involves medical or surgical correction. If this is the case with your dog, a veterinarian may be able to resolve your pet’s deafness.

If the deafness is sensorineural, the inner ear is involved and deafness is usually total. Sensorineural deafness is often due to nerve abnormalities or problems with the hydrodynamics or physics of the inner ear. As pets get older, deafness is a common occurrence and sensorineural deafness may be the cause.

Deafness can be hereditary in many breeds. Breeds most commonly affected include Dalmatians, Border Collies, English Setters, Boston Terriers, Collies and Rottweilers. It can also be associated with a genetic predisposition. Dogs with the merle coat colour gene and cats with white coat colour and blue iris genes are predisposed to deafness.

Deafness is difficult to evaluate in both dogs and cats, especially if only one ear is involved or if there is only partial deafness. Since pets cannot tell us what they hear, the best criterion for confirming whether a pet can hear or not is by its response to sound, i.e., the pet must consciously perceive the sound.

You can determine your pet’s ability to hear by making various levels of noise (from quiet to increasingly louder noises) and seeing if your pet reacts. Often, pets will display an involuntary flicking or twitching of the ears (called Pryor’s reflex) in response to a sound. Some veterinary schools have also had some degree of success with objective evaluations of hearing, using electrodiagnostic procedures.

using electrodiagnostic procedures. If you suspect that your pet has a hearing problem, consult your veterinarian so that he or she can determine what kind of deafness is involved and what can be done about it.


VETERINARIANS CAUTION: Medical Marijuana Exposure In Pets

From the Canadian Veterinary
Medical Association

Marijuana has been prominent in pet news recently due to the rise of medical marijuana use in people and its impending legalization in Canada. It is important for you to know about these products since the probability of your pet becoming exposed is increasing.

The Effects Of Using Medical Marijuana In Pets Is Not Well Studied To Date

It appears dogs are proportionately more sensitive to the active compounds in marijuana than people. An American study in 2012 by Meola and others reported increased rates of toxicity seen in dogs living in Colourado, a state with recent legalization of marijuana. In fact a four-fold increase in toxicities was reported between 2010 and 2015.

In small dogs, excessive intake can easily result in signs of toxicity, as listed below. Cats are not immune to toxic side effects, but are much more selective in their food intake. Cats generally avoid eating garbage, scavenging butts on walks around the block, or table or counter surfing, and they lack a sweet tooth so we do not see them take in “pot” products like dogs do.

Though, no pet is immune to respiratory irritation from side-stream smoke or purposeful cannabinoid product administration, with possible inadvertent (or, very rarely intended) overdose or illness resulting.

Signs Of Excess Cannabis Exposure In Pets Include:

  • Salivation
  • Sleepiness
  • Fast or slow heart rate
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Low body temperature
  • Wobbling, pacing and agitation
  • Vocalizing
  • Sound or light sensitivity
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Vomiting

Where Does Marijuana Come From?

Cannabis sativa L. plants are the source from which recreational and most medical marijuana products are prepared. Preparation includes drying of leaves and flowers. Different types of prepared marijuana have a range of levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the well-known psychoactive compound. “Marijuana” refers to products containing any bioactive cannabinoid compounds, of which THC is just one example.

Marijuana Can Be Broken Down Into Three Classes:

Recreational: The plants can be smoked or vaporized from the dried leaves and flowers, or used in baking and other oral preparations for humans. This class has the highest risk for pet toxicity due to high THC levels.

Medical: These products contain moderate to high CBD levels (cannabidiol, another cannabinoid; a non-psychoactive compound), and minimal to moderate THC. These medicinal products are used for antibacterial, gut-soothing and anxietysoothing treatments in people. They are also used for anti-nausea and vomiting, anti-oxidant, pain relieving and anti-itch properties in people in addition to the psychological effects. Medical marijuana may be prescribed for cancer, osteoarthritis, chemotherapy, epilepsy and certain inflammatory bowel conditions in humans.  There are many plant cannabinoids (80-113 different types reported), and CBD is the main cannabinoid selected for in most medical marijuana products. Human medical products do not emphasize psychological effects (THC), but rather promote proposed medicinal effects (CBD). Strong psychoactive effects of THC are not generally desired for human medicinal use. Some of these products contain enough THC to produce toxicity in pets.

Hemp: A different subspecies, industrial hemp, has been cultivated for centuries for its rich fibre. It has been used in textiles and paper. Hemp tends to be the plant type used for pet “medical cannabis;” most of those products are hemp oil, tincture or hemp powder. Some pet hemp oil products are available for legal purchase in Canada and Europe because the products contain either none or just a trace of THC, and they are derived from legal hemp plants.  Currently, pet hemp products are being promoted as aids for itching, anxiety, nausea, poor appetite, seizures, cancer, digestive problems, inflammation, immune disease and reduced mobility due to joint pain in animals. Hemp products do not get the pet “high,” but effective and safe dosages have not been studied. Hemp is very low in THC and contains minor to moderate CBD levels; there is currently insufficient research data to know rates or thresholds for toxicity.

Veterinarians Are Not Allowed To Prescribe Any Of These Products For Pets

Certain legal hemp products may be useful in pets according to some experts, but veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe any of these products for pets. In fact, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) reminded its veterinarians that: “There are currently no *CBD products approved by Health Canada and therefore no legal pathway to obtain these products.” (*CBD refers to cannabidiol).

Pet owners who intend to administer these products without veterinary consultation, as some have done when traditional medicines have failed, are doing so even though no proven safe and effective doses have been published. Due to lack of suffi- cient evidence about effective, safe dosage and optimal frequency of administration in dogs and cats, owners should not dose their pets with any type of marijuana product. The only information we know for certain at this time is that dogs have a higher sensitivity to the same dose of cannabinoids when compared proportionately to people.

Further research is recommended to understand the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana in veterinary medicine. For now, marijuana of any type is not approved for medicinal use in animals, and giving products to your pet may have unknown side effects and unproven effectiveness. Especially, exposing them to THC-rich recreational marijuana could put them in a life-threatening medical crisis.

Kathleen Cavanagh BSc DVM ME, CVMA Consultant Online Editor; Jennifer Kyes, DVM, DACVECC (Critical Care), Specialist Editor. 


CPR can save a pets’s life

I f you have confirmed that your pet has no heartbeat and is non-responsive, or the normal pattern of breathing has stopped and gums have turned ashen grey blue, have someone call your veterinarian or the local emergency veterinary hospital for guidance while you begin rescue efforts. In death, if you gently touch the surface of the eyeball where it is clear, there is no blink reflex
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, can be used to treat an animal that has stopped breathing and has no heartbeat. It is not useful for collapse/unresponsiveness from other causes, such as a low sugar coma or fainting. Basic life support is the appropriate response to cardiopulmonary arrest. Basic resuscitation can be broken down into three steps, which are called the ABC’s of CPR; Airway, Breathing and Circulation.
Basic CPR step one is to confirm that the airway is open. How? The first step is to open the mouth, pull out the tongue and examine the throat. Do not do this if there is agonal breathing since the mouth can clamp closed with great force, causing injury to your fingers. Agonal breathing is a slow deep gasping effort that can happen at the time of passing on and for a few minutes after. In long-nosed breeds of dogs, a small flashlight may be needed to visualize the throat area. Use your finger to check for and remove any foreign material from the mouth.
Breathing for the pet involves mouth-tonose (snout) resuscitation. How? To protect fingers in case the pet starts to arouse during the examination, make sure the fingers are never placed in the path of the large teeth at all times. If the animal is becoming conscious, one must not put the fingers in the mouth at all because the pet may bite very hard due to reflex. For medium-sized to large-sized animals, holding the muzzle closed with your hands should seal the mouth, providing opportunity for mouth-to-nose resuscitation. For cats and very small dogs, your mouth will seal the pet’s whole snout when you perform CPR.
Placing your mouth over the animal’s nose and exhaling directly into the nostrils begins resuscitation. Do not overinflate the chest or lung damage may occur. After four to five quick breaths, the breathing should be checked again and if no spontaneous breathing begin formal resuscitation cycles of two minutes each. If no equipment is available, 30 chest compressions should alternate with two quick breaths and the people should rotate roles every two minutes to reduce fatigue for chest compressions. Check for return of breathing and pulse during the cycle changeover. If the animal does not start breathing after 15 minutes, it is not likely to revive
To check whether enough air is being provided (or too much), watch the movement of the chest wall as you provide air. The chest wall should move up and out as if a large normal deep breath is occurring. If the wall moves very high, you are overinflating the lungs, and a smaller, less vigorous breath should be used. If the chest wall does not move at all, it is quite possible that a blockage of the windpipe is present.
Cardiovascular (circulatory, heart and blood vessels). How? For small dogs, the pet should be lying on its right side. The palm of one hand should be placed over the ribs at the point where the elbow would touch the chest if he was lying down with back facing up, with forelegs tucked at side, while the other hand is placed beneath the right chest wall opposite it. Compression rate should be about 100- 120/minute, allowing time for the chest to spring back in between pressure application. If there are two people present, one person can perform the breathing, while the other compresses the chest then checks for a pulse in the femoral artery (running up the inside of the leg and felt ½ way down from the junction of leg and body wall to the knee joint).
For medium to large dogs, the hands must be cupped over each other on the top side behind the elbow on the chest wall where the elbow would naturally sit if the pet was lying down, with back facing up, with forelegs sitting normally, and the arms kept straight and elbows locked. The person needs to place their body squarely over their hands in order to get sufficient power to compress the chest properly. If there are two people present, one person can perform the breathing, while the other compresses then checks for a pulse every two minutes. A folded towel placed under the chest will help to keep the pet from shifting during the application of pressure.
Cats should be placed on their side, and one hand should be placed over the backbone near the shoulder blades, while the other hand is cupped around the underside of the chest where, if the cat was standing, just behind where the elbows would be. Flat fingers on the underside, and flat part of the thumb on topside are applied over this region of the heart.
gion of the heart. Pulses can be checked by placing a finger over the mid portion of the inside rear limb about half way between the body wall and the stifle, or knee joint half way between the back and front margins of the limb. The femoral artery lies within a minor trough in the muscles here. A veterinarian can teach you how to find pulses during a routine annual examination. It is best to practice getting the pulse on a healthy, awake pet before any time of crisis. Important: The chest should go down by about a third to half of the height as the animal lays on the side.
Lay the pet with the body angled so the head is lower than the heart, and hind end is higher than the heart using blankets or pillows, or coats, if they are handy. This keeps more blood in the brain. This should not be done if there is trauma especially to the head.
Do not attempt to drive and do CPR at the same time! Ideally enlist a friend or family member to assist with you promptly. At the veterinary clinic, they have important aids for resuscitation, such as adrenalin and other key drugs, oxygen, intravenous access, breathing bags and windpipe (tracheal) intubation to maximize effectiveness of CPR, so do not delay your trip to the clinic whatsoever.
Note that once a pet has passed away, resuscitation with even the very best equipment and trained personnel there is only a success rate of 9% reported as of 2012, and of those animals that recover, some will have permanent brain damage and may not be themselves afterward. However, this should not deter anyone from trying it in an emergency situation. To learn more about CPR, ask your veterinarian.
The greatest chance of success is when there is an observed passing and immediate CPR begins. Presence of agonal breathing (heavy irregular gasps) does not mean the pet is still alive. These can continue to occur for a few minutes after death but do indicate very recent death (or is currently dying).
If you see a return of heart beat and breathing, it is essential to still present the pet right away to the hospital for very important post-resuscitation support that must happen. It can happen that the animal re-arrests, so it is not over until quite a while has passed, with the animal remaining stable. Brain swelling and other complications of recovery require a hospitalized stay, so don’t delay
From the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association www.canadianveterinarians.net


Failing to teach a child how to handle pets properly can result in suffering on the part of the pet and, in some cases, injury to the child. Many children, especially very young ones, don’t realize that pets are living animals, not toys.
To prevent children and animals from getting hurt, it’s wise to teach children how to properly handle pets. When introducing a pet in a household that has young children, parental supervision is very important. Supervision is necessary until parents can be certain that a child is able to handle and interact with the pet in a responsible and humane manner. Initial supervision also allows the parent to make sure that the pet is safe for the child. This is especially true with children under five years of age.
Children must be taught how to show affection toward pets. Most children tend to “pat” animals rather than “pet” them and this could prove to be too rough for some pets. They must be taught to be gentle and not to push, prod, poke or tease pets in any way. A child should be shown the proper way to stroke a pet, as well as the correct way to pick up a pet
Whenever possible, children should be involved in the care, feeding, grooming, and training of the pet. Involving the children in the daily care of the pet instills a sense of responsibility in the child. It also teaches the child that the pet is dependent on him or her for good health. Parents can put up a list of daily pet chores that the children can check off once they have completed the assigned chore. At the same time, parents must make sure that these chores are being completed, since failure to do so can result in suffering on the part of the pet. The family veterinarian can be of considerable help in these efforts by discussing the importance of health care, grooming and proper feeding with children.
Respect for a pet’s privacy must also be instilled. Pets should have a “private area” such as a crate or a specific corner of the house to allow them to get away from the kids from time to time. Children must be taught to respect this need for privacy and the existence of a private area.
Quick and sudden movements, loud noises and yelling might startle or frighten animals. Children must be taught that animals prefer to be handled in a gentle and quiet manner. Otherwise, pets may become frightened and reluctant to be approached or handled, or worse, they may bite.
Before touching an unfamiliar animal, children should be taught to ask first for permission from a parent. Not all animals are necessarily friendly and some may even perceive a child as a potential threat. In fact, animal bites most often involve children. In the case of dogs, children should be taught not to stare directly at a dog, as this may be perceived as a threat.
Pets have been shown time and again to be valuable tools in teaching children respect, empathy, responsibility and gentleness — traits which stand them in good stead throughout their lives. The bond between a child and a pet lasts a lifetime and enriches their lives as nothing else can.

Understanding Hairballs

When cats are not sleeping or eating, they are grooming! All that hair goes down into the digestive tract, and in the stomach, can ball up into a hairball. Usually they are long and tubular when you find them on the floor since they take that shape as they come back up the esophagus.

Some cats seem to form lots of hairballs, others bring them up rarely or never. Long haired, thick-coated cats, such as the Persian, are more likely to build them up due to the sheer volume of their hair they take in. If the cat hunts mice, the hair also can contribute to hairballs.

Usually the hairballs do not cause problems and passes through the digestive tract to be incorporated into the bowel movements. Sometimes if they get large, the cat may have trouble bringing them up or passing the hair down and stomach irritation can result. Very rarely, hairballs can become large and hard, and need surgical removal.

Daily grooming removes a lot of dead hair so that less is ingested by the cat during self-grooming. If the cat is sensitive to fleas or other external parasites, over grooming may occur and increase hair intake, so make sure these parasites are eliminated.

Keep the haircoat in good health by feeding high-quality food. Some manufacturers make a hairball preventive diet. Sometimes omega fatty acid supplements are used to increase haircoat quality and skin health. Hairball remedies, such as petrolatum-based pastes, can be given at home by mouth. These often have extra vitamins added. Avoid administering plain mineral oil — cats cannot taste it and can inhale it and get pneumonia. As well, avoid plain petroleum jelly or vegetable oil since it does not have extra vitamins added to make up for the tendency for the petroleum to interfere with fat-soluble vitamin absorption.

Though cats can safely pass hair through the digestive tract, if your cat is having any signs of ill health, including vomiting, lethargy, reduced appetite or hard, small or scant feces, contact your veterinarian. Vomiting hairballs once or twice a month is not cause for concern, but if more frequent, discuss this with your veterinarian.