What to do if Your Dog Goes Blind
The sense that humans rely on most is likely sight. Clear vision allows us to live our daily lives. What happens when we start losing our vision? We correct and adapt!
If our canine companions start to lose their vision, it’s not such an easy task as getting a pair of glasses. What to do if your dog goes blind is not obvious. For this reason, today we’ll be discussing what you can do to make your dog’s life more comfortable if they begin to lose their vision.
How do I Know my Dog is Losing Their Vision?
The good news about your dog losing their sight is that they should be perfectly fine without it. People get along well enough even if they are blind. Your dog can too. It will just take some getting used to. Your dog relies on their sight a lot less than most people. So, losing sight is not the end of the world for your dog. You’ll just have to take a couple of extra precautions to make sure your dog is safe.
If your dog shows these signs, they may be losing their sight:
- Startling easily
- Having a hard time finding toys
- More clumsy than usual
- Cloudy looking eyes
- Seeming to have eye pain
- Having lower than normal energy
If you notice these symptoms in your dog, it likely is time to call the vet. You may get recommended to a veterinary ophthalmologist at your vet’s suggestion. These vets specialize in eye conditions and surgeries. They will have the know-how and specialized tools to assess your dog’s vision.
Once you know for certain that your dog is losing their vision, you can begin setting up your home to help your dog in their transition.
What to Do If Your Dog Goes Blind?
The most important thing you can do if your dog starts to lose their vision is to ensure they are safe. They have been used to having a lot of freedom. They’ve probably also earned your trust. Unfortunately, now you have to start limiting the things they can do. Walking around in the backyard unsupervised might not be a great idea if you have a pool they can fall into. Start training your dog by limiting their space to an area you can guarantee to be safe. If your dog is already crate trained, let them rest there when you can’t directly supervise them. You already know they’ll be safe there.
You can also use baby gates or a freestanding fence to keep them in a confined safe space. Once they are able to map this area out well, you can start opening up their movement to other parts of the house. Just be sure to start with single rooms at once. This will let them make a better mental map of your home.
Different Cues You Can Use
Once you start letting your dog into more parts of the home or yard, you can also start training them by giving cues. These cues will help your dog understand either where they are or what you want from them. In this instance, we will be using two different types of cues, tactical and auditory.
Tactical cues are something your dog can feel. You might not notice it, but dogs are able to pick up on very subtle cues just by feel. This ability exists even if they are blind. If your dog can feel the floorboards creaking when you walk, they might know that you’re making your way to the kitchen for a snack and follow.
In the case of a dog losing vision, you can use this to your advantage. Place floor mats in front of doors to show your dog where they are. You can even put wood chips around the perimeter of your yard so your dog knows that they are about to walk into the fence. Any texture changes you can make could be a great signal to your dog.
You should also make sure your dog has plenty of cues they can hear. For example, you can get toys that rattle or have bells to make them easier to find. After all, your dog is still going to need exercise. Another auditory cue you can include would be to put bells or a pair of keychains on your house shoes. This will be a noise your dog will know is you. They’ll be able to find you with ease anytime you are moving around the house. You’ll also not sneak up on them when they weren’t expecting you.
On that note, you should be talking to your dog often too. They won’t always know what you want or are saying, but your tone will be a big cue that you’re around to help care for them.
Training Before Blindness
Even if your dog has attended obedience classes, now is a good time to teach your dog some new commands for their safety. Basic commands like “stop” and “stay” are always important to learn, but also more specific commands like “step up” and “step down” could help them get upstairs and navigate your home and the outdoors safely. Since your dog can’t see you, you may have to repeat your commands many times over so that your dog has time to come to you and follow through with the task.
At the end of the day, taking care of a blind dog is challenging. However, it’s just about the most rewarding journey you can experience.