Caring for a Blind or Deaf dog

by Nancy Boland

No one wants to think about their four-legged best friends getting older, much less having to deal with something like losing any of their senses. Unfortunately, the reality is that hearing and vision for many dogs significantly deteriorates with age, and some even end up going blind, deaf, or both.

Don’t despair if this happens though as its quite possible for him or her to continue to live happily and safely for quite some time. Dogs are remarkably resilient and learn to adapt very well. Follow these tips on caring for a blind or deaf dog:

Not all is lost
you’re dog may have lost his sight and hearing, but he still has taste, touch, and — most importantly an incredible sense of smell. Even when they can see and hear, the most significant way that dogs interact with the world is through smell. Sniffing around tells them where things are and what they are, and when you use this in combination with touch, your dog will be able to adapt a lot more effectively.

Safety First
If you have stairs in your house, a baby gate is going to become your dog’s new best friend. It’s also wise to take care of any sharp objects and edges, because they won’t be as easy for your dog to avoid. Additionally, while it’s vital to let your dog run around and get exercise, you never want to let him off the lead in an area that isn’t fenced off.

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Keep things consistent
In order to help your dog easily find the things that he needs on a daily basis, create a space for him in the house and make sure that you keep furniture and everything else in the same place as always. This should include his food and water dishes; bed and other favourite spots in the house; including his toys. This consistency will comfort and help him out on a functional basis.

Vibration Is Your Friend
You know that touch is important, but you might not realize that vibration can be just as valuable — and help you to be a bit more hands-off. You can direct your dog by doing things like stomping or clapping, and simply patting the ground for him to feel where you are, and help to play with toys and other games.

Make Feeding Time Hands-On
You don’t have to literally spoon food into her mouth, but with deaf and blind dogs it can help especially in the early stages to bring them to their food bowl and touch their chin to the edge of it. Most dogs will learn quickly, and this also helps to teach them how to get to their bowl on their own.

Let People Know
You should tell any visitors to your home about your dog’s unique situation. This way they will know how to interact with your dog. In the end, remember that this is the same best friend you’ve come to love over the years. You can still play together and enjoy each other’s company; it’s just going to mean adapting to some new challenges and learning how to maintain them.

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