By 8-10 years of age, most of our pets will have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can pose safety concerns if they should become lost or if we need to call them away from a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, accurate assessment of hearing levels is not possible in private practice nor are there “hearing aids” for pets whom hearing loss is determined. Any pet experiencing hearing loss should be assessed by a veterinarian to rule out any treatable conditions such as ear infection(s), foreign bodies/wax plugs in the ear canal(s), etc.
Ways to help our pets with decreased hearing
- Monitor your senior pet closely when outside, do not allow them outside alone if they are not contained in a fenced yard.
- Train your pet, early in life, with both verbal and hand signals.
Decreased vision or blindness
Decreased vision or the ability to see fine details is a common aging change in the eyes of our aging pets. Over the age of 8 years, the lens shows evidence of increased density. You may notice in your pet’s eyes that the pupils are not as black, but look grayer now in color. This normal age-related change needs to be differentiated, by one of our veterinarians, from other causes of “graying” of the eyes such as cataracts, glaucoma, etc. which require medical management. With normal eye aging, you may notice your pet begins to miss treats or food on the floor, or they may not be able to catch toys as they used to or they may be reluctant to jump up on the furniture, etc. Being able to see clearly at night is also a common complaint. Most of our pets will not completely lose their vision. If your pet suddenly becomes blind, a veterinary visit is needed immediately, to evaluate vision and the eyes for a cause and to develop a diagnostic and treatment plan to restore eyesight hopefully; this may include referral to one of our local veterinary ophthalmologists for their expert advice and skill.
Ways to help our pets with decreased vision:
- Block off stairways using baby gates to prevent accidental falls.
- Using night lights can help those with decreased vision in poor/low light situations.
- Not allowing pets with decreased vision outside alone to prevent accidents.
- Use of verbal commands or gentle touch to help guide them.
- For pets who are blind, the book “Living with Blind Dogs” by Caroline D. Levin can be a beneficial resource to understand your pet’s condition.