If you are one of many dog owners who own a dog and witness their eye sight degrading, there are many things you can do to make your dog’s quality of life a better experience. Before diving in, it is best to familiarize yourself with the causes and impact blindness has on your dog.
What Causes Blindness in Dogs?
There are many causes for blindness in dogs. Various dog diseases such as cataracts, diabetes, old age, sunlight, trauma, pollution, and kidney failure can cause blindness over time. Cataracts are the condition of opacity (cloudiness) in the retinal lens. If your dog has cataracts the best thing you can do for your dog is monitor the cataract. If the cataract becomes too thick it can ultimately result in blurred vision or a complete loss of vision.
Too much sunlight, pollution, and trauma all have an effect on your dog’s eye sight. Make sure your dog avoids extended periods of sunlight. If you bring your dog to the beach, provide ample shade with an umbrella. Allowing your dog to sit in the car for short periods is okay, but be sure to leave the windows open, provide easy access to water, and even put the air conditioning on if need be. Try to park in a spot that is out of direct sunlight, like by a building or under a tree, or face the car away from the sun.
Managing Cataracts in Your Dog
So what can we do for our four legged friends to make these cataracts less intrusive? First, you should start with a healthy diet. A healthy diet has shown to reduce the rate at which oxidization of the lens occurs. Fruits and vegetables are always a good start, but be sure to avoid certain items. Raisins, grapes, inedible skins, seeds, pits, and citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruit, and limes. There are many herbal remedies on the market that have been said to reduce cataracts as well. Be careful when turning to herbal remedies as most herbal solutions on the market have neither been tested by the FDA nor will you know the exact impact it may have on your dog.
Exercise is always a great way to keep your dog’s health in order. Diabetes is a leading cause of cataracts and the best thing to maintain or avoid diabetes is a healthy weight. Walking and playing games regularly with your dog is important not only for cataracts, but the overall well being of your dog.
Depending on your dog’s condition, sometimes the natural remedies are not enough to maintain a condition like cataracts. If your vet recommends surgery such as phacoemulsification (which is a process that breaks down large globs of fat into smaller portions in the eye) keep in mind that the average success rate is 90% in dogs. If your dog has non-hereditary cataracts, surgery is usually not recommended.
Living With a Blind Dog
Living with a blind dog can feel overwhelming at first but the following steps will make you and your dog’s quality of life a better experience.
Be sure to train your dog to understand commands such as halt, slow, stairs, home, outside, and walk for starters. Halt can be used to train your dog to stop. This is useful when your dog may be near dangerous objects or furniture in the home/outside. Slow can be used to inform your dog that they need to proceed with caution.
Focus on your Dog’s Capabilities
Focus on what your dog can do instead of what your dog can’t do. If you know your dog has trouble seeing, focus on what your dog excels at. Being a dog, chances are they have an excellent sense of smell, hearing, and taste. When training them, use treats to trigger their smell and taste buds. Touch them on certain parts of their body as physical queues. Speak to them with trigger words instead of using facial expressions or hand gestures.
Home is Home
It’s difficult to familiarize your dog in locations outside of your home. Environments are always changing. You visit new places, you see new people. But at home, you can control your dog’s environment. Try your best to keep your furniture in the same location, your dog’s bed and bowls in the same location etc. The familiar environment will allow your dog to memorize walking routes and feel safe. Routine always provides comfort and eliminates surprises.
April 19th 2016
Updated on May 29th, 2019
Kim is the co-owner of DogLoverStore with her husband, John. She earned her BS in operations management at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She enjoys walking in nature, gardening in the sun, eating sour candy, going on drives, yoga, and reading.