There are so many things that can happen to our dogs, and we want to protect them from the world, but some things are harder to prevent than others. Two common disabilities in dog breeds are loss of vision and loss of hearing. It is heartbreaking to think that your dog could be going through this without you knowing. There are signs we can look for and things we can do to help our dog continue with a normal life, even with this disability.
Loss of Vision
It is sad to find out that your dog is going blind, and you want to understand why. Some of the common causes of blindness are:
- Dry Eye
- Old age
- Progressional Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Some dogs like the Lab Retriever and the Golden Retriever have a genetic disease that can be passed down through generations. Goldendoodles can often get this disease or be carried by their Golden Retriever parents. This is why it is so important to do genetic testing to keep these diseases from showing up.
Some signs your dog may be suffering from loss of vision are:
- Frequent tripping
- Jumpy or confused during playtime
- Bumping into things/people
- Trouble finding food and water bowls
Some physical signs are cloudy or wandering eyes and redness around the eyes. Their eyes might also turn a slight gray/blue color. Your dog might become depressed and also sleep more than usual.
How to Adapt
It can be challenging and even dangerous for blind dogs, so they will need your help to adapt to this new life. It is possible for a blind dog to have a somewhat normal and happy life. There are things you can do to make the transition easier and safer.
- Dog proof your home. Keeping things the same will help your dog make a mental map of your home. Something you could also help do this will be different textured carpets. This will help your dog associate different textures with separate rooms. You should avoid moving furniture and keep the food, water, toys, and bed in the same spot.
- Change visual/hand signs for verbal commands. If your dog’s vision is deteriorating, you can start adding verbal commands to your hand signs and slowly start only using the verbal commands. It can be a long and challenging process, but it will help keep the obedience you already had from your dog.
- Keep on leash out of the home. When your dog is outside or even in an unfamiliar area, it is good to keep them on a leash for their safety. They won’t be familiar with their surroundings and could step on something or bump into something and get hurt.
Loss of Hearing
Many things can cause deafness, and some things we can’t prevent.
- Chronic Ear Infections
- Congenital Defects
- Degenerative Nerve Changes
- Head Injuries
- Old Age
- Ruptured Eardrum
Some dog breeds are more susceptible to hearing loss, such as Australian Shepherds, Maltese, Toy Poodles, Dalmations, and German Shepherds.
You may notice that your dog has become less obedient to verbal commands, and they will become more startled when they approach them suddenly. Some other signs are becoming less reactive to noises around the house. They might have difficulty finding you or get anxious when you leave the room without them noticing. Dogs move their ears to receive sound, so dogs with declining hearing might not move their ears much.
A dog with declining hearing can often get frustrated that they can’t hear. They might start making more noise or being a little louder. Some dogs will bark excessively out of the frustration of not being able to hear.
How to Adapt
You will have to change a couple of things to make it easier for your dog. There are a few things you can do to help your dog have a normal life even when their senses decline.
- Switching verbal to visual commands. You can start using visual commands during training with your verbal commands and slowly take out the verbal commands.
- Keep your dog safe outside of your home. Always have your dog on a leash, especially if their hearing is declining. They won’t be able to hear oncoming traffic and could get hurt.
- Make your presence known to your dog. If your dog is deaf, they won’t be able to hear when you leave or enter a room; it would be good to get their attention as soon as you enter the room and when you are about to leave the room. Some dogs will get anxious when they can’t hear you and can’t see you in the room. To them, it is as if you had disappeared.
- Desensitize your dog from being startled. It is good to practice with your dog to get them used to being touched suddenly. There will be times when someone is over, and they might not think about how coming up behind your dog might startle them. Something you can do to help with this is practice gently stroking your dog’s back to notify them that you are there. For the first few times, they will get startled, but they will get used to it and turn around to see you after a while.
It is hard to watch your best friend go through something like this, and I hope these tips have helped you make it easier for your pup. If you start to notice any of these signs, it is best to take your dog to the vet to check for sight or hearing loss.