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Helping A Blind and Deaf Dog Enjoy Traveling

When people learn that we have a blind and deaf dog, their most common response is to feel sorry for him. We appreciate the concern, but Ty doesn’t need any sympathy. Yes, he’s lost two of his senses, and that’s taken some adjustments. We’ve had to learn some new tricks. But Ty’s happy, and helping a blind a deaf dog enjoy life isn’t as hard as it sounds.

A blind and deaf Shar-pei dog in a stroller with yellow foliage in the background

 

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The Joys of Getting Older

Dogs can lose their vision and hearing in a number of ways. In Ty’s case, both of those senses faded as he got older. He was almost 13 when vision faded completely. But we’d known for a while it was coming. He’d been on medication for chronic dry eye for years, and it was only a matter of time before that condition took his sight.

It was harder to tell exactly when Ty lost his hearing, because he’s pretty much ignored us his whole life. He is a cat in a dog’s body. And an aloof cat, at that.

Unless there is food involved, Ty’s not the least bit interested in our human wants and needs. In fact, we only realized that he was deaf when one day he didn’t come running to the crinkle of a potato chip bag!

Amy from GoPetFriendly.com holding Ty, the blind and deaf Shar-pei dog

In any case, Ty is now 14.5 years old – significantly past the average life expectancy for a Shar-pei. And, if his being blind and deaf is the tradeoff for an exceptionally long time together, we’ll gladly take it.

READ MORE ⇒   How to help a dog with arthritis keep going

Safety First

Our first concern when Ty started going blind was keeping him safe. We got a folding pet gate to block off the stairs and watched closely so he didn’t tumble off a curb or run into things on walks.

Keeping Ty’s environment familiar also became important, and that’s a cinch in the Winnebago! Rearranging the furniture isn’t an option, and his bed and bowls are always kept in the same spots. We don’t leave shoes laying on the floor where they could trip him, and we try to remember to close drawers and cabinets so they don’t become unexpected obstacles for him.

Ty the deaf and blind dog laying in his comfy bed in the GoPetFriendly.com Winnebago

One thing we added was a long, rubber-backed runner down the length of the motorhome. This allows Ty to use his sense of touch to determine where he is in the RV. Near one end of the runner is his bed. Near the other are the food and water bowls. And if he doesn’t feel the runner under his paws, he knows he’s heading down the hallway to the bedroom.

 

Staying Engaged

Keeping a blind and deaf dog engaged means turning up the activity for their other senses – especially smell. Even when they can see and hear, dogs interact with the world primarily with their noses. Simple activities like sniffing the grass, working a treat puzzle, or gnawing on a toy make Ty happy.

Ty from GoPetFriendly.com

Variety is the Spice of Life

Mixing things up makes life more interesting for all pets, but it’s especially important with a blind and deaf dog. Extra odiferous and tasty snacks like Beams Fish Skins from the Honest Kitchen always get Ty’s attention.

Dropping a couple treats in his bed while he’s bopping around the RV, or leaving a few in his path where he’s sure to find them keeps Ty wondering what wonderful thing will appear next. Healthy treats like Freeze Dried Salmon from Ageless Paws are the perfect little surprises.

And, even though he can’t hear the squeakers, he still enjoy a chance to maul a new toy.

Ty the blind and deaf dog chewing on a toy from BarkBox in the GoPetFriendly.com Winnebago

If we weren’t moving around all the time, I’d consider getting Ty a PetTreater subscription box to make sure he always had a variety of goodies to keep him entertained. BarkBox is another option that gets a good review in this pet subscription box review by Jessica at YouDidWhatWithYourWiener.com

That’s How We Roll

Another thing we do to delight Ty’s senses is to take him for strolls. When his vision faded he started walking really slowly, so covering any distance with him was a challenge … until we got a pet stroller.

READ MORE ⇒  Ty’s Stroller Reviews

Now we can take him to the ocean, the forest, up mountains, and along rivers. And he loves it! His head might get heavy, and his eyes might be closed, but his little nose is always working.

Buster and Ty, the GoPetFriendly.com dogs, on a pet friendly trail with waterfalls in the background Ty and Buster from GoPetFriendly.com on a pet friendly trail in Coeur d'Alene, ID

Let People Know

It’s easy to startle a blind and deaf dog, so we always let people know about Ty’s special needs and ask them to let him sniff their hand before they pet him. We also let any visitors to our home know about Ty’s limitations so they can make accommodations for him.

 

Even though Ty is blind and deaf, he’s still a happy dog. In fact, I’m convinced he’s happier now than ever! Surprise treats and toys, time to sniff the bushes to his heart’s content, humans strolling him from place to place … I think he’s got us right where he wants us. And we couldn’t be more grateful!

Gear Used in This Post:
(Affiliate Links)

Folding Pet Gate

Chilewich Rubber-backed Mat

Beams Fish Skin Snacks

Ageless Paws Salmon Freeze Dried Treats

ibiyaya Pet Stroller

See all the gear we use to make traveling with our pets easier, safer, and more fun!

 

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  • Lisa says:

    I’m so glad I read your blog. My boyfriend has a 15 yr. young Yorkie named HOBO and he too is blind & deaf. He comes over to visit with him and will sleep over periodically. He adjusted well to the new change of environment in the beginning of our relationship but, he had a sleepless night one night. And we are concerned about moving from place to place. We want to keep our little HOBO happy and safe. Would it be better to leave him at his familiar environment for a night alone or what can we do to help him adjust to both of our homes?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for reaching out. Dogs are always happiest and most content when they’re with their people, so my recommendation is for your boyfriend to bring HOBO with him when he visits. I’d also suggest he bring his bed, and any toys, blankets or other things that HOBO loves to make him more comfortable. And don’t forget – his nose still works! Making sure to block anything that wouldn’t be safe, you can have fun encouraging him to explore your home by planting treats where he’s sure to find them. I hope that helps and wish you all the best.

  • Leona Johnson says:

    I just got a puppy that is now ten weeks old. When we first got her she seemed reserved but we thought that would go away as she got used to us. She is sweet and loves to be held. But we started noticing when she is in the ground she bumps into things and is always closely scrutinizing the things she bumps into after. If she feels like she is trapped, she will spin in a circle barking. Then we started noticing that she does not jump at loud noises. When you touch her when she is on the ground she will get scared and try to back away from your touch. But once you have her picked up she snuggles in and acts like she wants to not leave your arms. She sleeps comfortably in my arms every night, but if I put her in her bed she will not settle.
    I read somewhere to talk to her before touching her. I tried it and it did not help. Then I noticed she does not jump at loud noises or turn her head at whistles. So I think we are dealing with blindness and deafness. Can you give me some tips and tricks for training her and making her existence more comfortable. She will not drink water so I have to mix a lot of water in with her food.

    • Leona Johnson says:

      Also, I noticed you mentioned lavender to help calm them. I am allergic to lavender. What other things can help with calming besides lavender?

      • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

        Chamomile, orange, and lemon are also known for calming, and are safe for dogs to inhale, Leona. There are several essential oils that are not safe for dogs, so be sure to do a bit of research before having them around your pup. Good luck!

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Leona! Thanks so much for reaching out and for your concern and love for your pup. My best advice is to find a local dog trainer to help you both learn to communicate. Since Ty went deaf and blind gradually and not until his senior years, we weren’t faced with the same challenges you and your pup have before you. I wish you all the best!

    • Graham says:

      Leona. I have a old Death and blind Shitzu – Maltese. Placed a small bell on her collar, helps me find where she is. Stroller is very helpful as she is happiest going to different places. Sleeping cover her with one of your old jumpers or coat don’t wash it. Best of luck.

  • Stacey says:

    I so needed to read this today. We have a little blind diabetic dog that we rescued in October. He had terrible gum disease and underwent surgery a week ago Thursday. 16 teeth were extracted. We noticed a change in him immediately after his surgery but couldn’t quite but our finger on it. We have now determined that he lost his hearing as a result of the anesthesia during surgery. It appears as though it is irreversible. I was wondering if he could have any quality of life and then I read your blog. Thank you so much for your positive attitude!

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      You’re so welcome, Stacey! Thanks for your note, and for being the awesome kind of person who adopts a senior dog with special needs. His life with you will definitely be a good one.

  • Joy Martin says:

    Please help. Our newly adopted 14 year old is clearly transitioning this week to complete blindness. His nose is going crazy. He has become obsessive, barking, pacing, scratching. We have cleaned everything and opened all windows. What should we do? Try lavender?

    • Joy Martin says:

      Oh and he is deaf as well.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Joy! Thanks so much for your note, and I’m sorry to hear that your dog is struggling. My best advice is to be patient. If you recently adopted him, he’s adjusting to a new environment, as well as losing his vision. Tying lavender is a good idea, and CBD might also help calm him. If he doesn’t settle down in a couple of weeks, I’d talk to the vet about getting something a little stronger to help him relax during this transition. Good luck!

  • Brandon says:

    Like a lot of people here I have been in a fog after finding out my frenchie is going completely blind while also having really bad hearing. This article has helped. My wife and I have a 2 month old baby and now a blind and deaf dog so transitioning has been tough. Its easy to forget that dogs cope differently than humans so thank you for the reminder and inspiration.

  • Adriana Barrientos says:

    Hi! My miniature poodle is 13.5 years old and has been slowly losing her vision over the years but has just recently lost it completely. She’s also been “hard of hearing” so a lot of tips and tricks I’ve googled for “blind dogs” have not been helpful because Coco cannot hear. My heart breaks for her because you can tell she is scared but I’m glad I read your article. We are already blocking off the stairs but will try the other adjustments too! Thank you!

  • Rhonda Owens says:

    I have a 14 year old Chihuahua. He is death and Blind from him cutting his ears up and around his eyes. His appetite is real good. But he constantly turning in circles. That I figure is from the inter ear issue. I haven’t been able to trim his nails and now he is blind and deaf. I’m sad about it but I love ❤️ him and I won’t put him down until he quit eating and walking around the house.
    That’s my commit.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      I understand, Rhonda, and love your commitment to your pup. I wish you happy times together.

    • Rachel says:

      Hi there, just wanted to share that since my dog went completely blind (in 3 days!) from SARDS, I have a wonderful mobile groomer who comes to our home to clip her nails. I’m able to hold and console her, and she trims them quickly. $25 WIN!

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