As our loyal canine companions age, they may encounter challenges such as vision and hearing loss. These conditions can be distressing, but with understanding, patience, and proper care, pet parents can provide their companions with a comfortable and fulfilling life.
“Vision or hearing loss in your dog is not a death sentence. We routinely see senior pets enjoying a high quality of life despite diminished vision or hearing. However, it’s vital to create a system of communication, engagement and comfort to keep your pet happy and safe,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, DVM and founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.
Care Tips for Dogs with Vision Loss:
- Maintain Consistency: Keep furniture and belongings in familiar places to help your senior dog navigate their surroundings. Leave a light on!
- Scent Trails: Use safe scents like vanilla or lavender to create scent trails that guide your dog through the house.
- Verbal Cues: Use verbal cues to guide your dog, and speak reassuringly when they seem uncertain. Background music or talk radio will also help reduce anxiety.
- Obstacle-Free Zones: Keep pathways clear to prevent accidents and ensure safe movement.
- Interactive Toys: Provide toys that engage their other senses, like toys with textured surfaces or ones that make noise.
- Walking Outdoors: Walk slowly, keep the leash short, and vocalize directions and obstacles such as “left, right, curb, step” to help them navigate. Consider using a “halo” device that will act as a “bumper” to avoid injury.
- Provide Location Sound Cues: Outfit other animals – and/or yourself – with pitched bells to help your pet identify and locate fellow family members.
Care Tips for Dogs with Hearing Loss:
- Visual Cues: Teach your dog visual cues, like hand signals, to communicate commands. It is valuable to teach these gestures when dogs are younger so that it is well-trained by the time their hearing begins to diminish.
- Vibrations: Use vibrations, such as stomping your foot, to get your dog’s attention.
- Lights: Consider using a flashlight to signal your dog or to communicate with them in the dark.
- Safe Spaces: Create a safe, enclosed, quiet space where your dog can retreat and feel secure.
By implementing the care tips to support their well-being, you can help ensure a comfortable and fulfilling life for your companion. Remember, your love, patience, and understanding are the best tools you have to navigate these changes and provide your dog with the best possible quality of life.