Although we love them dearly, living with sight or hearing-impaired pets can present certain challenges that require some thought and planning in order to make your home as safe and secure as possible for your furry family member.
Dogs are very adaptable creatures who can overcome a sight or hearing handicap by relying heavily of their amazing sense of smell to get the around the home. Whiskers, for both dogs and cats, also act as radar and are an amazing multi-purpose guidance system. They allow a pet to gauge if a space is large enough for them to fit through, or maneuver past objects without touching them. These built-in navigation systems will definitely come in handy, but there are ways you can further support them by making small changes in decor and behavior:
- If your fur kid has lost her sight, it’s important to be consistent around the home. This means ensuring that food and water bowls are always in the same places, and that you feed at the same time out of the same bowl every day.
- Place baby gates around the house to control access and block off any unsecured areas or access to the outdoors without you.
- Try not doing any re-arranging of furniture, build ramps over stairs and provide pet steps for easier access to their favorite places.
- Be vigilant and don’t leave large objects lying around the house that your pet could trip over and hurt themselves.
- It’s also essential to properly pet-proof your home to prevent accidents and injuries. Check for broken screens on windows and doors, cover sharp edges on items of furniture, and ensure that toilet seats are kept down at all times.
- In order not to startle a sleeping dog, ring a bell or start talking to her from a distance.
- Similarly if your dog has suffered hearing loss, always approach them from the front so that they can see you coming.
- If you are expecting home deliveries or visitors, consider putting your dog in another part of the house so that she is not suddenly confronted by strangers coming through the front door that she wasn’t alerted to by the sounds of their arrival.
- Pets with sight and hearing difficulties should never be left alone outside.
- It’s also a good idea to state that your pet is blind or hearing impaired on her ID tag and be sure to warn all visitors to your home.
And some important tips from Pet Healthcare on leashing your blind pet:
- Your leash becomes an extension of you and your dog will feel safe when they are leashed. It's like holding someon's hand, even dogs that are not blind feel safer on a leash.
- Use the leash on walk AND inside the house until your dog feels comfortable with their area.
- Blind pets don't know the difference between night and day. You will need to communicate this to them both verbally and with actions to avoid a sudden need for food or attention in the middle of the night. You might want to consider leashing them at night close to you to get them used to the idea of night time is sleep time.
And most of all - be sure to talk to your blind pet. They understand more than you think and the sound of your voice is always a comfort to them!