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

 

Visit our Amazon store to learn about more products we rely on to make traveling with pets easier, safer, and more fun!

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  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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.

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

      • 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!

    • 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!

    • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Thanks for your note, Adriana. I’m glad we could help a little and we wish you and Coco all the best.

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • I am considering adoption of 2 dogs, one of which is deaf and blind. My question is, with your dogs, do they have a bond where Buster helps Ty in situations? I was hoping to get them both, they would bond and take care of each other when I have to be at work. My heart breaks for him being in a shelter when he should be in a warm loving home and I have high hopes to be that provider for that fur baby. Your article gave me several good ideas to help him acclimate to a new surroundings if I am allowed to adopt him.

    • Hi Amanda. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that you’re considering adopting this pair! Because every dog is different, my experience with Ty and Buster may not be a good indication of the relationship these dogs would have. Ty was VERY independent and wouldn’t allow anyone to “help” him – other than picking him up and carrying him. Also, Buster’s was never really interested in caring for Ty. He was hoping for a playmate, and Ty made it clear right from the beginning that wasn’t going to happen. All that being said, I do think Ty was comforted knowing that when we did need to leave the dogs, Buster was here with him. I hope that helps you and wish you the very best of luck!

  • Your article is so lovely & touching. Having a 16 yr old blind & deaf doxie myself, I know the strong bond that a special needs pet developes with their owner. A stroller is the most used & treasured item in our home. Gives her the freedom to safely travel & explore without the dangers. Best investment I ever made. She rides front & center like the queen that she is. LoL. Wishing you many, many more beautiful & fufilling years with your fur babies.

    • Thank you so much for your note. Yes, the stroller was absolutely priceless and make it so much easier for Ty to continue exploring with us. Waggin’ trails to you!

      • Hi Amy,
        My dog as well recently lost his eye sight completely and has also lost his hearing over the years. I want to make sure I can give him the best environment so your tips have been very helpful, thank you! I saw this comment however and was wondering about the stroller situation. I’ve also bought a stroller, but I haven’t used it yet because I was worried it would make my dog feel disoriented, since everywhere online says to make sure he has a routine and same path areas to avoid confusion. Wouldn’t putting them in the stroller make them feel more confused about where they are?
        Thanks again for your helpful tips!

        • Hi SA! Thanks so much for your note. My advice is to introduce the stroller to your pup slowly. I’d start by putting his bed or blanket in the stroller, so he feels comfortable, and then letting him sit in it without moving. If he seems okay, try rolling the stroller a bit indoors where the ride will be smooth. Once he’s used to that, start taking him for longer rides and making trips outdoors. Anytime he seems frightened or uncomfortable, take a step back and work a little longer to make sure he’s not scared before trying again. In my experience, dogs are extremely adaptable and he might take the the stroller much faster than you imagine. Ty loved his stroller immediately – in fact I think he wondered why he didn’t have one his whole life! Good luck to you and your pup. We’re wishing you the best.

    • My 14.5 year old mini Aussie that I adopted 1.5 years ago was just diagnosed with glaucoma and is having her left eye removed in two days. I’m more worried about her recovery as she is a dog that doesn’t like being touched when she has any sort of ailment, it’s been harder than heck to get any eye drops in her, she will try and nip at me. And she’s too darn smart for my trickery to work. So I’m hoping her recovery won’t entail too much contact with her eye. She seems to be totally blind but unsure of her good eye. The ophthalmologist could barely do an exam even with a muzzle on, she just wriggled way too much. But I wanted to mention that I too have a stroller for her as she also has bad arthritis from being a ball fetcher most of her life. And she doesn’t seem to hear much of anything except loud noises. I’m glad to hear that even though she will be blind and almost deaf that she will still be a happy dog. I’m certainly hoping so.

      • Hi Teresa! I hope your pup’s surgery goes well and that she has an easy recovery. I think you’ll find that dogs adapt really quickly to their new situation and I’m sure that you and her will have a happy life together once she’s feeling better. Good luck to you both!

  • My puggle Hooch has been blind for about 5 years. He has done so well because of his hearing. Now Sadly he is going deaf too and for the first time ever I see he is scared. We are a pair. He loves his walks and out time together and until your article I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t know how to make his life easier too reading your article. The idea of the carpet on the floor guiding him is a great idea. And he does love to eat. But yes, can’t hear the crunching of the bag anymore. But does tell me when it’s time to feed him. There’s nothing wrong with his internal timing mechanisms when it comes to to food!! Thanks for the article. I have new hope to make Hooch’s life continue to be the best.

    • I’m so happy that my post was able to help you and Hooch, Deb! It’s often difficult watching them go through these transitions, but my experience is that they adapt pretty quickly to their new circumstances. With your help and love, I’m sure you two will find a way to continue enjoying life together. Good luck!

      • I am considering adopting a 6 month old German Shepherd pup who is deaf and blind due to breeding issues. I am trying to educate myself on how to help me help her and I truly appreciate your article! I didn’t know that things such as dog collars that define her disabilities for other people to see even existed until I started down this path. I love the tips about scenting, making paths with textures, touch training, and crating that I have found. I want this young lady to live a full life and am truly appreciating the input of others who have already done this!

        • It’s a beautiful thing you’re doing, Linda. I’m tickled that our article was helpful, and I’m sure you’ll be able to give this pup a wonderful life. And she’ll also be a blessing for you. Good luck to you both!

  • Years ago, if a dog became blind or deaf, owners would usually “put the dog down” to “”stop the suffering”. I’ve had dogs who grew old, deaf, blind, but still enjoyed life. Thanks!

    • You’re so right, Linda! Ty is clearly not suffering, and we’re all enjoying our time together. Thanks for your note!

  • Thank you for sharing this. My 16-year-old dog has been deaf for a few years, and is starting to go blind as well. I’m beginning the process of making things safer around our home, but it’s hard not to get sad for him. Thanks for the reminder that it’s up to me to make sure the time he has is happy, and that he still gets to enjoy his life. Ty is a great role model.

    • We’re happy to share what we’re learning as our boys get older, and thanks for your note. I’m so glad our experience can help you and Elvis! All our best to you both.

  • I really appreciate this story. My Cocker Spaniel just become blind and deft.
    It’s hard for us to see him struggling with his disability that’s breaks our heart. Reading your story gives me a lot of ideas how to help my dog how to adapt to his disability. Thank you

    • I’m so glad we’re able to help, Pam! It can feel overwhelming when things change. Remember, dogs don’t think about the way things used to be and get discouraged. They accept what is, and go from there. I find it’s easier to help Ty and Buster through their challenges when I do the same. Good luck to you!

  • I was so inspired when I read your story. My little Sadie is 11 and she is losing her hearing as well as developing dementia, but I wouldn’t give her up for anything. She is my girl and she knows it! Thanks for the great story of Ty!

  • Love all the great pictures of Ty (& Buster!)!! I wonder if Ty’s extended life isn’t in direct relation to the loving & thoughtful care you provide for him. He & Buster are 2 lucky dogs (as are their owners). :-)

    • Thank you, Tracy! We do our best to take care of the boys, and we’re so grateful to have had them with us for as long as we have.

  • I’m just amazed on the amount of love and care Ty & Buster receive from you. You are the a great Parent mentor- I am certain to many! Keep enjoying them- I know I do‼️

  • I loved read about this dog and how he overcame several tough obstacles especially not being able to hear or see. What a beautiful dog. God Bless you for helping him and taking care of him.

    • Thank you, Crystal. Ty’s always been a character and a tough little cookie. We’ve been lucky to have him.

  • Category: Travel Tips / Tagged with: Health and Safety