Exerpt: It’s not easy to take care of a handicapped pet in your daily life. Here is our advice to help you deal with your little fur ball, depending on the type of disability that it suffers from.
Deaf, visually impaired… Daily life with a handicapped pet
Your pet suffers from hearing or visual impairment; whatever the origin of the handicap (either due to aging, an accident or since birth), we give you advice on how to make your and your pet’s daily lives easier.
Just like humans, cats and dogs can develop ear infections: otitis, parasitosis… which, if not treated correctly, can cause deafness. Aging can also have an impact on an animal’s hearing. And finally, genetic deafness is more common than we believe. In general, for cats as well as for dogs, white fur animals are more affected than others.
Most animals can live an almost normal life with a loss of hearing, because they compensate with other senses that are overly developed. However, impaired hearing can be dangerous! Deaf animals are more vulnerable to certain things:
Cars, which they don’t hear approaching; outdoor cats and cats who develop late hearing problems are most affected.
Sudden frights: deaf animals feel shocks or loud noises through the vibrations that they produce; it can be startling and scary, especially when it occurs outside of their field of vision, and may trigger a sudden escaping instinct. An animal is even more vulnerable when it is scared!
Deaf animals need a calm environment, as well as visual and tactile contact with humans around them. Dogs are especially responsive to body language, which makes it easier to acquire (get further advice from a behaviourist if you think it can be helpful). For cats, the best strategy to get their attention is to pet and cuddle them. Any kids in the house? Teach them to avoid brisk movements around your pet in order not to cause a violent reaction. Also, restrict your cat’s outdoor explorations, especially if you live next to a busy road. Your dog, on the other hand, should learn to stay close to you when you take it out for a walk.
Visually impaired or blind animals
There again, it may be caused by an accident, a disease, or an eye condition that was not treated correctly. It can also be a consequence of aging (cataract, glaucoma, etc.), or a genetic condition. In this last case, just like deafness, white fur animals seem more often affected.
If they suddenly lose their visual ability, cats and dogs might feel disoriented at first (they’ll bump into furniture, be clumsy…), but they show a surprisingly high capacity to adapt. You can help with this process:
Domestic animals are very sensitive to their daily routine. They know their immediate environment very well and are attached to their habits: avoid displacing furniture and their familiar items (food bowl, basket, etc.). If you’re moving houses, make sure that you take enough time to help your pet find its bearings. As their master, you play a great part in their quest for autonomy!
Outdoor cats? Streets can become a real deathtrap for a blind or visually impaired animal. Felines do compensate a hearing loss with a highly developed vision, but the reverse doesn’t work as well. Visual impairment prevents cats from evaluating distances, and makes them more likely to fall or get into trouble. Your best bet is to keep them inside or in an enclosed garden.
Deprived of their vision, cats and dogs develop their other senses accordingly, especially their hearing! They become even more sensitive to loud and sudden noises, that can trigger aggressive or fearful reactions. Stay calm!
You own a deaf, blind or visually impaired pet? It will instinctively compensate this handicap by over-developing other senses. However, freedom can become a source of danger for them… If you can’t come to terms with the idea of locking your animal inside your house, use a Weenect Pets GPS tracker! You’ll then be aware of your pet’s movements and be able to locate it if it gets lost. You’ll feel more at ease, and it’ll make your pet calmer too: you both win!