Thousands of animals are affected by blindness and deafness every day, but just because a pet dog has a disability does not mean your blind or deaf dog must have a reduced quality of life.
Blindness in Dogs
The main causes of blindness in dogs are injuries, cataracts or genetic disease.
A good test for blindness in dogs is to grab their favourite toy, throw it and check the dogs’ eye line. Dogs that are blind rely on their other senses – hearing, touch and sound to get around. With all blind dogs, keeping the yard and household the same is imperative. It is also important to feed your blind dog in the same spot every time. Heating your dog’s meal will send off a stronger scent and help guide them to their food.
When approaching a blind dog, always let them know where you are. Call their name out loudly so they don’t get a shock when you arrive, and importantly allow extra time for them to sniff and identify you.
When it comes to exercise, stick to one or two routes, that way your blind dog will be able to memorise the route, feel safe and know where they are going every time.
If you have got a cluttered house it is a good idea to dab some non-alcohol based scented oil on the corners of your furniture; by remarketing these spots every 3 – 4 weeks your dog will soon learn the scent of each piece of furniture and avoid them accordingly.
Deafness in Dogs
Like blindness, deafness in dogs is usually due to old age, genetics or injuries. Dogs who are deaf cannot hear commands, barks or hisses from other animals.
Bilateral deafness affects both ears. A good test for bilateral deafness is to clank a pot or jangle a set of keys and see if you get a reaction from your dog.
Deaf dogs can be startled by unexpected touch, the way to teach a deaf dog not to fear sudden touch is to walk up behind them and gently give your dog a touch on the shoulder and immediately reward them with a threat; that way your dog will soon associate sudden touch with something positive.
Deaf dogs don’t tend to wake up easily, so you will need to be proactive in waking them up. Do this by holding your hand in front of the dogs’ nose and lightly touch them on the shoulders.
In time your dog will learn to wake up from your scent alone.
When leaving home, always let your dog see where you are going. If you are taking your dog with you, make sure you keep them on a lead as they can’t hear cars.