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What to do if your dog is losing their hearing or sight

It’s an inevitable sign of aging that our senses start to deteriorate, and our dogs are no different.

It can be distressing when you discover your dog is losing their hearing or sight, but we have a few tips that can make the experience less stressful and easier on you and your pooch.

How to spot tell-tale signs of sight and hearing loss
There is no quick and easy way of knowing whether your dog is going deaf or blind, but your own instinct and knowledge of your pet should be reasonably reliable. If you think there’s a problem, then you’re probably right.

Some tell-tale signs that may indicate your dog is going blind is if they become clumsy, bumping into things more often than before and finding it hard to locate a toy or their feeding bowl, if it’s not where you usually place it.

If your dog doesn’t seem to be paying attention to your commands, it may be a sign of deafness, especially if they’re usually alert and obedient. Their ears tend to twitch as they listen to sounds, so if there’s little movement in your dog’s ears, this can be another indication of hearing loss.

If you do suspect a problem, always make sure to seek the help of a vet before you begin to try and remedy or cope with the problem yourself.

If there’s an issue with hearing
Substitute spoken commands for hand gestures and other visual cues to communicate with your pooch. Ensure that you have some treats on hand to reward your dog as they begin to learn a new way of communicating, but it will require patience.

With limited hearing, your dog may struggle to hear hazards like cars. They may get startled by people or other dogs if they aren’t aware that they’re around them. So, you will have to take extra care when out of the house with your dog, they might not be able to roam and run as freely off the lead as they did before.

Even at home, you could frighten your dog if they don’t hear you coming into the room, try to acclimatise them to this experience gently. Techniques like lightly stroking your dog as you approach and giving them a treat when they turn around, should prevent startling. Walk with heavy steps, as the vibrations on the floor will indicate your presence.

Looking after a pet struggling with sight
Routine and familiarity will be a real comfort for a dog that is going blind. Make sure you keep important objects such as food bowls, beds and toys in the same place so they can be easily located.

Protect your pooch from any potential hazards in the home like stairs, fireplaces, garden ponds and doors. Make sure that everyone in the house knows to be extra vigilant, reducing the risk of hazards.

Other ways to help your four-legged friend
While a loss of senses will no doubt be hard on your pet, the sense dogs rely upon the most is smell; with a canine nose being extremely sensitive and sophisticated. Focus on the importance of this sense, purchase some scented toys and balls to help your dog get used to maneuvering around the house.

If your dog experiences deafness or blindness, be sure to grab a white lead, this will indicate to other people and dog owners your pooch is deaf/blind. A yellow lead signifies the dog is nervous and care should be taken when approaching and communicating, it’s a simple and useful way to let others know the needs of your pet.

It can be upsetting to see your beloved pet struggling with deteriorating sight or hearing, but make a few thoughtful changes to your home and routine, and they should quickly adjust comfortably to a new way of life.
Have your found some helpful ways to assist your aging dog? We’d love to hear your own tips on Facebook HilifeDog or Twitter @HiLIfeDog.

17 January 2018

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