As a dog gets older, it’s not uncommon for them to lose their sight. As their sight deteriorates, they can eventually become completely blind. Blindness can also occur suddenly. Despite being blind, there’s no reason to suggest that with a little extra care, you and your dog can’t continue to enjoy a healthy, happy life together.
Causes for a dog to go blind
- Damaged lens or cataracts – the common cloudy appearance.
- Inflammation of the eye or uveitis
- Injury to the eye
- Brain tumours
- Retinal or optic nerve disease
How to tell if a dog is going blind
- Cloudy appearance of the eye
- Increased clumsiness
- Increased clinginess towards you
- Increased anxiety or confusion
- Not wanting to go out at night
- Unable to find toys or fetch balls
The above lists are non exhaustive, if you notice any behavioural changes in your dog or appearance of the eye, you should seek veterinary advice.
Looking after a blind dog
Taking extra care of a blind dog is essential for physical and mental wellbeing. You are their assurance and their eyes on the ground.
Keep your routine the same. Your dog will feel more at ease if daily tasks are done in patterns at the same time, such as feeding, toileting, walking, etc. Furthermore, keep everything in the home in the same place. Water and feed bowls should be kept in one place. The same applies for the dog’s bed or toy box. Try to refrain from leaving objects lying around such as washing baskets or the hoover.
Talk to your dog. If your dog’s hearing is still intact, he or she will find your voice very reassuring. For dogs who become blind and deaf, touch and smell will become their primary senses. Touching your dog’s head will let it know you are there, strokes and pats will give him that extra peace of mind and reward. Keeping smells similar will help the dog feel it is in familiar surroundings.
If you have another dog, you could attach a bell to it’s collar, so the blind dog knows where it is. When out walking, it might be better to keep your dog on a lead. Not only will your dog feel more at ease knowing you are close by, you won’t lose them if they wander off and lose their bearings. Special collars or leads could be worn by the dog, stating that he or she is blind, so as to inform other members of the public.
Enjoy this time together
Caring for your blind dog can help strengthen your bond. New games or tricks can be taught which rely on other senses, such as vocal commands with treat or touch as the reward. Be mindful of your dog’s overall health and well being, if at any point they look like they are struggling, depressed, stressed or losing weight, you should consult your vet and discuss end of life options. Sadly, we all have to say goodbye to our beloved pets at some point and being prepared will make that time a little bit easier.
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