How to care for blind and deaf older dogs (2023)

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Taking care of blind and deaf dogs

A difficult period in a dog's life is the last 20-25%. As dogs age, changes occur in their bodies that lead to vision and hearing loss. Many dogs of this age also have arthritis, mobility issues, and other physical limitations associated with the natural (though sometimes distressing or painful) effects of aging. Most dogs will experience some form of visual impairment, and some will develop cataracts. Hearing impairment is common, and arthritis and mobility issues are a common problem, particularly in overweight dogs.

This process is not dissimilar to that of the aging human being in that as we approach old age, we don't see or hear as well, can develop arthritis, and generally "slow down." It may take us a little longer to get up. , turn up the TV a bit louder and you need glasses to read the newspaper. We can feel confused or tired more easily, and suffer from weight gain or loss of appetite due to our changing needs.

It's typical for a veterinarian to have an appointment with a healthy older dog and find that the animal has a history of not hearing when the owner comes home, doesn't see as well, and has difficulty climbing stairs or general mobility. These things are a common part of this aging process, although they can seem annoying to owners.

If you are one of these owners, you surely want your beloved pet to be as comfortable and happy as possible. What can you do? Here are some tips for living with dogs who are blind, deaf or have arthritis. Your dog may have some or all of these symptoms, so I hope you find this tip helpful.

Tips for living with blind and deaf dogs

Blindness is defined as loss of vision in both eyes. There are many reasons dogs go blind including glaucoma, corneal problems, cancer, trauma, retinal disease and cataracts. For a more comprehensive list and explanation, see our article onblindness in dogs.

Blind dogs require special care but can live long and happy lives. Many dogs adjust to blindness or vision loss fairly quickly and do well by relying on their other senses. A dog's sense of smell is very good, as is their hearing. Many older dogs that lose both hearing and sight rely on their sense of smell. dr Rhea Morgan wrote a very good article about itTips for living with a blind dogwhich I think is really cool.

Living with a blind dog is one thing, but caring for a blind and deaf dog is much more difficult. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, some dogs hear nothing and others can hear certain frequencies. Some can hear a murmur of something and understand that it is from a familiar person, but they do not understand what is being said.

Deaf dogs rely on smell and touch to tell when someone is nearby, allowing them to get much closer to their human companions than before.

In my opinion, blind dogs with some hearing really appreciate you talking to them. Losing the senses can be disorienting and frightening, and a soothing voice can help orient and guide them.

Here are some tips to help you help your dog with vision and hearing loss live a happy and healthy life.

1.Be patient. When dealing with a blind or blind and deaf dog, it is important to be patient. They often navigate more slowly, especially when some of their other senses are impaired. Most dogs end up adjusting very well, but it can take a little while.

2.Be consistent with your dog. Consistency is important when dealing with a blind and deaf dog. They rely heavily on memory and enjoy predictable routines for stability and comfort.

a. Feed your dog and keep the water in the same place. Some dogs like fountains because they can feel the vibration of the pump to orient themselves to their food and water areas. Some blind and deaf dog owners believe their dogs drink healthier water after installing a pet drinking fountain.

b. Leave your bed in the same place.

C. Minimize renovation or furniture changes when possible. Some dogs compensate for their vision loss so well that many pet owners don't realize their pet is blind until they move the furniture and realize the dog suddenly bumps into things. Several dogs are also found blind when they are taken to the animal hospital, crashing into walls and cabinets in the unfamiliar rooms.

i.e. Having a fenced yard, as we'll discuss later, also helps minimize changes to the landscape (like planting or cutting down trees or shrubs) that can be disorienting for dogs with vision loss.

3.Routine. Disabled dogs seem to appreciate a regular routine. They get out at the same time every day and night, walk the block the same way, and eat in the same place at the same time. If your dog can hear something, you can use a bell or other soft noise (even a soda can with rocks can work) as a call to let your dog know it's time to eat. If you maintain a routine, most dogs will learn to wait at the bowl at the scheduled time.

4.neatness. If you have a dog with vision or hearing problems, keeping your home consistent and fairly tidy is ideal. If your dog has a preferred route from the door to the bedroom, don't leave toys, shoes, or other things lying around that he might trip over. If you move things, put them back. If you have guests and add two more chairs in a room for extra seating, put them back when you're done so your dog doesn't get confused or hurt trying to move around them. security. Once you realize your dog is blind, it helps if you try to look around your home from the dog's perspective. It can even help to get down on the ground and see things from your level. It may sound silly, but it can reveal some hidden dangers that might otherwise be overlooked.

a. Look for sharp objects that he or she might trip over. Do not leave coat hangers or other sharp objects on the floor, and be careful of corners that can bruise or injure sensitive skin. Keep cabinets closed (a dog can accidentally bump against an edge and cause injury). Cover sharp edges with soft foam or other materials; those designed for baby-proof homes are particularly useful.

b. Put up barriers around swimming pools and hot tubs, and make sure your dog doesn't have access to ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.

C. Use baby gates to restrict access to open stairways, decks, balconies and uneven walkways.

i.e. Block access to fire pits and secure all pokers and doors so your dog cannot accidentally bump into them and injure themselves.

me. Do not light candles near low tables; Dogs can knock over lit candles with their tails.

F. Eliminate flimsy carpeting that can bunch up and cause injury from trips or falls.

6.let your dog run. Of course, some pet owners want to pick up their pets and take them with them. This may seem like a courtesy, but when you bring your dog into a new room, he or she has no idea where he or she is. As they move from room to room, they can develop awareness. to your dog. If your dog seems lost and can hear something, you can talk to your dog so it can use sounds to identify your location. (If your dog can't hear anything, this doesn't help.)

8.Don't startle your dog. Dogs that don't see or hear well are easily startled. They can develop anxiety and always seem restless. If your dog can hear at least a little, you can make a noise or talk to him before you touch or approach him so he knows where you are. Touching your dog suddenly can startle it, and some dogs will bite if surprised. If your dog cannot see or hear well, it will be difficult to announce your presence. You can walk heavily towards your dog so that he can feel the vibration of your footsteps. Another option is to use a buffer between you and him. For example, to wake up your dog, you can gently touch it with a toy. If he is startled and bites, bite the toy, not your hand.

9.Do not brush dog whiskers. Many dogs use their whiskers to perceive the world and will use this ability more often if they have vision and hearing loss. Whiskers, also called vibrissae, can act as sensitive antennae, detecting objects, air movement, and even vibrations such as those produced when a door is open or someone walking by. Do not allow your groomer to trim these hairs, or if they do, give your dog extra space and consideration until they grow back.

10Wear bells and ID. Attach a small bell to your dog's collar so he knows where he is. Make sure your pet is well identified with a collar and microchip. If your dog runs away for any reason, he won't have all of his senses to help him get home and will rely on human means to find his way to you. An ID tag and microchip collar may be the only way to return a lost dog to its owner. An ideal pet tag will tell anyone who finds your dog that you are deaf and blind and should include your contact information. Another option is bandanas, which indicate that your dog has special needs.

11Use leashes and harnesses for your dog. Dogs with vision and hearing loss must be kept on a leash at all times when not in a fenced family yard. Dogs can pick up another dog's scent and run away. It doesn't take many long to find their way to the freeway, where they may be hit by a car or another dog. A dog without hearing or sight cannot react or avoid possible danger. Collars are best, but harnesses are a good alternative as they fit around the chest instead of the neck. In times of danger, this protects the delicate neck tissues from injury and damage.

12Dangers for dogs outdoors. Dogs with hearing and vision problems should not be allowed outside alone unless in a fenced family yard as mentioned above. It's important to regularly inspect your yard and yard for potential hazards, including broken fences, broken flower pots, garden debris, sharp edges, broken gates, and more; all of this can cause trauma.

13Plan to keep having fun. Dogs that can't hear or see still want to have fun. Touch, taste, and smell are their remaining senses, which can be used to their advantage for long periods of time. Choose toys that dogs can respond to with some hearing (some have loud or high-pitched squeaks designed for such dogs) or even textured toys. Some dogs like stuffed animals and enjoy the feel of soft stuffed animals; You can also buy toys that you can use to hide treats and tap into your dog's sense of smell. Dogs also appreciate the feel of the grass and the smell of fresh outside air or the feeling of the balmy sun, so don't neglect a simple afternoon in nature.

Blind and deaf dogs can live happy and rewarding lives with your help. I hope these tips will help you enrich your pet's days even more.

Learn more about how you can help blind and deaf dogs

Here are a few more articles on ways you can help your deaf and blind dog.

How to live with a deaf dog
How to help your senior deaf dog
Living with a blind dog

If you have any suggestions or advice on anything you have done to help your deaf or blind dog please share below.

Learn more about how you can help blind and deaf dogs with arthritis

Many deaf and blind dogs also have arthritis. Here are some additional tips on how you can help dogs living with this painful condition. The first is an excellent article on basic ways to improve your life and increase your comfort.

Go to10 things you can do to help a dog with arthritis.

Other useful items are:

How to live with a deaf dog
How to help your senior deaf dog
Living with a blind dog


How do you take care of an old blind and deaf dog? ›

Blind and deaf dogs rely mainly on touch so be sure to pet your dog all over from their ears to their paws. This way they are very use to touch and at ease with it. Textures are a great way to guide your blind and deaf dog. Rugs, mats, blankets etc are all ways to guide your dog so they can work out where they are.

What is the quality of life for a blind and deaf dog? ›

Blind and Deaf Dogs Are No Different

A dog that cannot see or hear may be less independent and could experience harsher circumstances in their life than one that can rely on all their senses. With that said, there's no reason for such a blind dog to enjoy life any less than one that can see or hear perfectly.

Why do old dogs go deaf and blind? ›

There are many causes of hearing loss in dogs, but for elderly dogs, the cause is often degenerative changes in the nerves found inside the ear. This is similar to the hearing loss seen in older people. The changes will likely be gradual, so symptoms will creep up slowly, and you may not notice right away.

How do you know when your dog has had enough? ›

The most prominent sign that you will notice is a complete relaxation of the body, your dog will no longer appear tense, rather they will “let go.” You will notice a slimming of the body as the air is expelled from their lungs for the last time and you may notice the lack of life in their eyes if they are still open.

Can deaf and blind dogs be happy? ›

Owners may also find it distressing to see their pet struggling or unable to enjoy the things they used to. However, with appropriate support most dogs are able to adjust to sensory loss and maintain a good quality of life, in turn enabling owners to continue enjoying the companionship of their pet.

When should you euthanize an old dog? ›

A veterinarian may recommend euthanasia, which is a humane death, when other options to reduce pain and distress are no longer helpful. Euthanasia may be recommended when you least expect it, such as if your pet is diagnosed with a terminal illness or if they've been in a debilitating accident.

How do you know when to put your senior dog down? ›

He has lost interest in all or most of his favorite activities, such as going for walks, playing with toys or other pets, eating treats or soliciting attention and petting from family members. He cannot stand on his own or falls down when trying to walk. He has chronic labored breathing or coughing.

Is a blind dog a happy dog? ›

The answer is an unequivocal “YES!”

Animals that lose vision gradually appear to adjust better than those that lose vision rapidly. With a bit of patience and TLC, we have found that almost every pet can make this adjustment. They will remember where their food and water are and rarely bump into things in the home.

Do dogs get sad when they go deaf? ›

Living with deafness may take some time to get used to—usually for the human more than the dog! Dogs who become deaf, especially later in life, typically do not experience any anxiety over their loss of hearing and seem to have very little trouble adapting to their condition.

Do all dogs go blind and deaf as they get older? ›

Like their owners, dogs suffer from hearing and vision loss as they age. Early signs can be subtle, but a few telltale clues can give an early warning. There are ways to make life easier for elderly dogs with impaired eyes and ears.

Do dogs bark more when they lose their hearing? ›

Changes In Barking

Changes in hearing can often lead to increased vocalization in dogs. In some cases, Fido may think you can't hear him. Other pups may be expressing dismay, or just don't realize how loud they're being.

How can I help my dog pass away peacefully? ›

Comforting a Dying Dog
  1. Stay Close to Them. Many dogs will seek comfort during this time and may desire more attention and care. ...
  2. Don't Introduce Your Dog to New People or Places. ...
  3. Maintain Normal Activities as Long as Your Dog Is Able. ...
  4. Talk to Your Vet If Medication Is Needed.
Aug 16, 2018

What to do if dog dies at home at night? ›

Call Your Veterinarian

A vet's office will take your dog's body and either dispose of it for you or store it for you before you have a cremation or burial. They might also know of resources like a pet crematory or a mobile vet service.

What do dogs do when they sense death? ›

You can also expect a ton of barking, howling, and vocalizations, an attempt by your dog to get your attention about what they know. Watch for lots of following around, extra attention, and melancholy behavior from your doggo, too. Here are a few signs your dog might be giving you if they're sensing death: Barking.

How do deaf dogs show love? ›

Four ways to a happier deaf dog
  1. Keep interacting with your dog and encourage communication with your dog. If your dog is merely deaf, teach him sign language. ...
  2. Let your dog know you are there. ...
  3. Keep your dog on leash. ...
  4. Do tell others that your dog cannot hear and to be careful not to sneak up on him.

How do deaf dogs show affection? ›

Show Physical Affection

If your dog lies down, and you pat them on the head, this is a sign of approval. Eventually, they'll figure out that a pat on the head means a good job and will repeat the good behavior more often. Treats, snuggles, and pats are all great ways to let your deaf dog know that you care.

Do blind dogs need companions? ›

Having a sighted buddy really helps a LOT. A seeing companion (dog) for your blind dog can help show your blind dog the ropes. Keep in mind, a blind dog cannot read the body signals and the visual signs that dogs give each other all the time.

Do old dogs pass away in their sleep? ›

Most dogs and cats don't fall sleep and then pass away gently in their sleep. 95% of our pets will have many days of challenging stages of deterioration and pain before they finally pass.

Is it cruel to put an old dog to sleep? ›

There's no right or wrong answer. It's a personal matter for each pet owner. The goal is to keep your friend with you for as long as they are comfortable, but let them go if they are in pain.

Will a vet put an old dog to sleep? ›

Your vet will explain the process and answer all of your questions, and when you're ready will come to your home. A gentle sedative will be administered to allow your dog to drift into a peaceful sleep.

What do senior dogs do all day? ›

At this stage, it is normal for your dog to spend more time sleeping and to respond more slowly when roused. She has earned her rest, so let sleeping dogs lie. Again, report excessive sluggishness or sleepiness to your veterinarian, as some illnesses can cause these signs.

What do vets do after they put a dog to sleep? ›

Following euthanasia, your veterinarian or veterinary nurse or technician will help to gently clean your pet if necessary, and remove any intravenous cannula that was placed. Then, depending on whether you are burying your pet at home, having your pet cremated or are still undecided, a few different things may happen.

Is it cruel to keep a blind and deaf dog? ›

The simple answer is no. Veterinarians tell us that dogs adapt very well to losing their vision. Owners of blind dogs will tell you the same thing. They can still get lots of enjoyment from food, walks, games, exploring, and lounging around like they always have.

How do you communicate with a deaf and blind dog? ›

For a deaf or blind and deaf dog, choose a stay signal like a touch with slight pressure to the top of his head.
  1. Start by putting your dog in a sit or down position and by giving your stay signal.
  2. As soon as your dog stays still for just a moment, give your positive marker and a treat.
Apr 12, 2021

Do dogs get scared when they go blind? ›

Many cases of blindness in dogs have a gradual onset, so you may start to notice them bumping into things or general clumsiness. They may also become easily scared or jumpy and become apprehensive, confused or anxious during playtime. Many blind dogs experience depression and end up sleeping more than usual.

How do you comfort an old blind dog? ›

However, verbal cues work well to help blind dogs maintain existing skills and learn new ones. Luring with treats and then incorporating physical cues can work well with blind dogs. For example, a shoulder touch to cue a sit or a back touch to cue a down.

Are old blind dogs happy? ›

Quality of Life for a Blind Pet

Blind dogs and cats adapt well to a life without sight. Loss of vision and struggling to see does not negatively impact a blind pet's quality of life. A blind pet may lose their eyesight, but they can still run, play, and enjoy their life.

What happens to retired blind dogs? ›

A retired guide dog can stay with its owner, as long as someone else can take responsibility, but a new home can also be nominated. Beyond this, the dog is offered to those people who had been involved in its initial training and development, before going through the charity's re-housing scheme.

When should you put a blind dog down? ›

Despite the adaptability, deciding to euthanize a blind dog may become permissible if the animal is geriatric with concomitant debilitating diseases and little hope of full recovery.

What do you do with a blind dog at night? ›

Make sure that stairways are well lit, and turn lights on when your dog is moving through the house or up and down stairs at night. In the early stages of blindness, many dogs lose their night vision but can still see in well-lit areas.

Can blind dogs see shadows? ›

Kristen Murdock, a foster dog mom with Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, says the best way to help a blind dog is to get to know its personality and limitations. Some dogs can see shadows and light, but their depth perception is off.

Do blind dogs get scared? ›

Many cases of blindness in dogs have a gradual onset, so you may start to notice them bumping into things or general clumsiness. They may also become easily scared or jumpy and become apprehensive, confused or anxious during playtime. Many blind dogs experience depression and end up sleeping more than usual.

Are dogs sad when they go blind? ›

Some dogs do become “depressed” at first when they lose vision (this is normal) but you can help by trying to keep up their routine as normal as possible. For eye protection when outdoors Doggles or an Eye Shield can protect the eyes . Start them wearing for short periods with treats to get used to them.

Do deaf dogs sleep more? ›

Another sign your older dog might be going deaf is if you feel your dog is sleeping heavier than normal and does not wake up to noises in your home. Your dog may also seem startled when you try to wake him/her up from a deep sleep.

Do deaf dogs sleep more than hearing dogs? ›

Some deaf dogs sleep longer and more deeply than hearing dogs; so it's paramount to wake your dog gently (especially new puppies).

Should a blind dog have a companion? ›

Having a sighted buddy really helps a LOT. A seeing companion (dog) for your blind dog can help show your blind dog the ropes. Keep in mind, a blind dog cannot read the body signals and the visual signs that dogs give each other all the time.

What age do blind dogs retire? ›

Our dogs usually retire when they are around 9 to 11 years of age. It's common for our guide dogs to remain as a pet with their partnership family or with close friends but sometimes this isn't possible so we look for a new owner where the dogs can enjoy their hard-earned retirement.

Is it humane to keep a blind dog alive? ›

If your dog has lost its sight, you might be wondering if it's cruel to keep it alive like that. Is your dog suffering too much? The simple answer is no. Veterinarians tell us that dogs adapt very well to losing their vision.


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