Pet Times

Sept 2015

In this issue we:

  • Examine deafness in pets
  • discuss senior pet health
  • wish you a safe Labor Day
Tidmore Veterinary Hospital
2914 Lurleen B. Wallace Blvd
Northport, AL 35476
(205) 339-5555

Deafness in Dogs

There are many reasons that animals may lose their hearing, just like people. Deafness can be noise-induced, may occur with advancing age, and can even be caused by certain drugs.

Most of the deafness in dogs, cats and horses is congenital, and is associated with color. One of the cell types that is critical to the function of the inner ear, where sound waves are converted to nerve impulses going to the brain, is the melanocyte. Melanocytes are also present in the skin and the iris of the eye, and are responsible for the production of melanin, among other pigments. Dogs with certain genes, such as the “extreme white piebald” gene, found in Dalmatians, bull terriers, and white boxers, have very few melanocytes. This means that there is a lot of white in the coat color – it also can mean that the inner ear does not function as well as it should. In the United States, 8% of Dalmatians are deaf in both ears, and 22% are deaf in one ear. The genetics of deafness are not always straight-forward, and many breeds can be affected by “pigment-associated deafness.”

In albino people, the lack of pigmentation is not caused by a lack of melanocytes, but a lack of melanin – they lack an enzyme important in the melanin production process. Because they have melanocytes, hearing in people with albinism is not affected.

The last full week of September is Deaf Dog Awareness Week (it is also National Dog Week, and International Deaf Awareness Week), sponsored by Petfinder and the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund. Their goal is simple – to educate people everywhere that deaf dogs are just dogs that can’t hear. They play and interact with their families just like other dogs, but many people consider these dogs “defective,” and are deemed un-adoptable, and this is unfortunate. If you have questions about deafness in dogs, check out the’s FAQ page.

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Seniors Need Special Love

Advances in veterinary medicine and nutrition have effectively doubled the lives of pets over the last 50 years.

Just like people, as animals age, concerns about chronic degenerative problems, metabolic issues, cancer, and even dementia become more important.

Inappetance may be due to dental disease, or more insiduous gastrointestinal disease.

“Slowing down” may really be due to age, but age is not a disease! If your senior is becoming more exercise intolerant, we need to make sure that there isn’t any underlying heart disease. In the case of cats, who frequently lead fairly sedentary lives, arthritis is an important issue, but is difficult for owners to appreciate. In fact, cats are expert at hiding all kinds of problems, not just arthritis.

Behavior changes could be normal brain aging, but could also be secondary to something else (and many times, that something else is treatable)!

As your pet ages, it becomes very important that we fully examine your pet, and not just once a year. Bloodwork and urinalysis do more than give us numbers – these tests can help us identify trends, which are also important in helping us identify problems early. Identifying problems early helps us help you, so that your pet leads a full, happy, healthy life. If your pet is over 8, and we haven’t seen him/her in 6 months or more, please bring him/her in!

Happy Labor Day!

The kids are gone or going back to school, and summer is coming to an end (even if the heat isn’t). Labor Day, the holiday to celebrate the American worker, is upon us.

If you are leaving town for a last summer holiday, please call us now for boarding reservations!

Whether you are staying home, or traveling for the holiday, please make it a safe one! And remember, pets shouldn’t participate in bar-b-ques!

And please remember, we will be closed on Monday, September 7 in observance of Labor Day. Our staff likes to spend time with their families and pets, too…