It’s a fact of life that we all grow old, and unfortunately for us, that does include our canine friends, too. Our dogs can suffer from similar health issues to us humans when aging, including failing eye sight and hearing loss.
As an owner, it isn’t nice to see your pooch going through anything that causes them discomfort or pain, so it’s good to know what signs to look out for as they start to face the later stages of life. The reality is that most of our dogs will suffer from some ailment as they grow older, so it’s our job as their owners to look out for the symptoms…after all, they can’t tell us!
Take a look below at what you can do to help your dog if they’re starting to show signs of loss in their hearing and/or sight.
Senile deafness in elderly dogs is extremely common and progressively develops over time, usually occurring when your pooch reaches around 13 years old (dependant on your breed of dog too, this age may vary where the life expectancy differs). Most dogs with hearing loss - due to age - wont completely lose all their hearing, which is a huge plus! But...due to the loss of some hearing, you may notice that they begin to act and behave differently.
Identifying hearing loss in your dog can sometimes be quite challenging. Here are some of the common symptoms that your pet may begin to show…
You may notice that as your dog gets older, they stop reacting to your verbal commands or other sounds like the noise of their food bowl. This is normally one of the first signs that your dog may be losing their hearing.
Has your pooch stopped realising that you’ve walked into the room? Would they normally run up to you and great you? Well, this is another major sign that your dog may be suffering from hearing loss.
If your dog is becoming more and more startled when you approach them, it may be due to the fact that they can’t hear you coming! A dogs hearing is incredibly sensitive when it is at its optimum, but as it starts to deteriorate, they will not hear as well as they once did. So, when you approach them from behind or if they’re sleeping, they will startle!
Due to the inability to hear your commands and other sounds around them, your dog may bark more out of frustration. Sadly, as your pooch can’t talk to you, their bark is all they have. The more frequent barking could be them telling you something is wrong…
There are many things you can do to help your dog continue living life to a normal, enjoyable standard once their hearing has started to weaken. Take the time and teach them new visual commands instead of verbal ones. Teach them to learn the commands through hand gestures, facial expressions or even torch light, using the rays to indicate different commands.
Also, high frequency noises can still be detected by your dog, even when they start to lose their hearing, so why not start saying your commands in a high-pitched voice? The change of tone and frequency can be picked up by your fluffy friend more easily which will help them - and you - to continue to keep their life content, safe and with minimal change.
Just remember to keep a close eye on them and always let them know if you’re leaving them! Dogs can get anxious just like us, so it can be very distressing for them if you have disappeared and they’re unable to hear where you have gone.
Loss of sight in your dog can be much easier to notice as they grow older. Very similar to loss of hearing, their sight may begin decline as they reach their teenage years. And, unfortunately there are certain dog breeds that are more likely to lose their vision earlier due to genetics.
Here are some of the common symptoms that your pet may begin to show if their vision is beginning to fail…
If you’ve become aware that your dog is taking a while to recognise you from a distance, this could be due to their vision becoming weaker. Our four-legged friends recognise us by our faces as well as smell! If they don’t know it’s you until you’re up close and personal, this could be a big sign that they’re struggling to see clearly!
When you’re playing catch, you may notice that they are missing the ball more than they are catching it? This could show that they sight is becoming weaker. It could be that they’re feeling lazy, but the older your pooch gets, the more likely vision loss is the cause.
When you look into your dog’s eyes, you might start to see that they’re turning a slight grey/blue colour, or looking cloudy. This will be instead of the dark black pupil your dog once had.
Bumping into their water bowl or tripping up the stairs? Take note if this is happening regularly with your dog. This isn’t normal behaviour! Along with this, you may have realized that they no longer try and jump off the couch? Without confidence in their sight, many dogs will just stay on the floor to avoid heights.
Just because your dog is losing their sight, it doesn’t mean their quality of life has to change. There are many things that you can do to keep your pooch happy and help them gain confidence with their new visual capabilities.
As your pooch will struggle to see any visual command, you may want to teach them new verbal ones, such as ‘watch’ and ‘step’, to let them know they’re approaching an object or an obstacle.
Keep your dog as active as you can. Just because their vision is weaker/gone it doesn’t they can’t play and have fun. You can still take them for walks too! Remember, you have the lead, so you can help guide your dog safely while you’re out of the house.
As your dog reaches the later stages of life, they will start to need you more than ever. Your dog is likely to lose the ability to hear and see how they once did, so your role as their care giver will need to change and evolve with their needs. It’s up to you to keep an eye out for the above symptoms and act accordingly - your pup’s happiness depends on it!