Nurturing A Happy Life For Your Blind Dog
It takes a special person to care for a blind dog. If you find yourself in this situation - whether by choice or unexpectedly - know that you have all you need to still give your dog a good quality of life. Caring for a dog in this fragile but completely livable situation can be very rewarding.
MAKING THEIR LIFE EASIER
Owning a blind dog requires patience, consistency, and a realistic plan for both owner and pet. Think about being without your eyesight and what would be most helpful to you.
• Keeping things in consistent places
When going about your everyday life, keeping items in consistent places is extremely beneficial for finding them again. You would need to know exactly where everything is from the toothpaste to the phone charger. Now think about your dog’s everyday life and needs. Take note of where your dog’s items are such as their bed(s), toys, water/food bowl(s), and anything else they use frequently. If they should be in a better place, move them as soon as possible so that they can get used to their new location.
• Cutting down on clutter
Getting rid of unnecessary items and furniture in your house would help this even more and could prevent tripping hazards. The less clutter around, the easier it would be to find what you need. As for your dog, if they have less items in their way while walking around, they will have an easier time navigating the house and may even feel less overwhelmed.
• Having Routines
Sit down and write down your dog’s daily routine and think of ways to keep up with that routine as your life becomes busier. Having routines would also encourage feelings of security and predictability which can be a comfort without one of your senses. You would still need to get outside for fresh air and continue doing as many activities as you used to that brought you joy.
• Safe Surroundings
While you are out of the house or on a different floor, make sure they have safe surroundings. Using a crate can be a really good way to keep them safe and can be comforting if they enjoy being in one. If they are not used to crates or don’t like them, using gates or a pen will help keep them contained and away from any potential hazards. Gates on stairs are especially important if they are not comfortable climbing up or down them on their own. Keep in mind as well that although their eyesight may not be completely gone, there might not be a clear sign if and when it worsens. So, it might be wise to only let them on the stairs or furniture if you are around to prevent injury.
• When spending time in strange places
It’s inevitable that at some point, your dog will end up in a new place whether it be a house you’re renting on vacation or a family member’s house for a party. Keep your dog on a leash as you introduce them to their surroundings and be prepared for them to need or want to stay near you for a while for comfort. Give lots of praise using a cheerful, happy voice to further their feeling of security. Treats or bones can help as well, to keep them happy in their temporary new environment. If making a complete new move, begin with the same items above but furthermore, try to stick with a fairly consistent schedule so that they become accustomed to their new home.
• Too much bumping into furniture or walls
Many dogs can adjust to their surroundings smoothly. But if you find your dog frequently bumping into things, a Halo could prevent head injury and help keep them calm. The water-resistant vinyl tubing will make contact with anything in their way before their head does which will indicate that they should change directions.
REASONS FOR DOG BLINDNESS
Dog Blindness can be caused by a variety of reasons.
Cataracts are one of the most common, especially in dogs who are older or dealing with diabetes. This condition often looks like the lens of the eye is clouded over with a white opaque growth. Eye drops or surgery may be recommended by a veterinarian. If surgery is recommended, catching it as early as possible is best.
Glaucoma is a similar condition that can present itself as having a blue or red tint to the cloudiness. There can also be increased discharge from the eye along with pupil dilation. This happens from pressure building up and causing damage to the lens. Eyedrops and medications might be recommended by your veterinarian to help decrease eye pressure.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a non-painful, gradual cause of blindness and occurs when there is a degeneration of the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) in the retina. This typically arises during adulthood. There is no cure for this condition, but there are many ways to cultivate a good quality of life for a dog even after diagnosis.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) is a rare condition that veterinarians are unclear of its cause but as indicated in its name, has a much quicker onset. Unfortunately, there is also no cure for this condition either but thankfully it should not reduce a dog’s life expectancy.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR HELPING A DOG DEALING WITH BLINDNESS
Dogs receive a lot of information through eyesight to read our body language. And although we are unable to speak as freely with them as we can with humans, there are helpful ways we can still guide them.
1. Verbal Communication
Using a calming voice is very soothing and reassuring to your dog. They will be quick to recognize and trust your voice. Although this is important from the beginning of your relationship with your dog, be consistent with the words you use for commands, routines, and places. Words and phrases like “eat”, “potty”, “bedtime”, “car”, “park”, “walk” and more.
2. Physical Touch
Remember how happy it makes dogs to be patted. Gently stroke your dog to establish a physical connection and reassure them during times of change or being in a new environment. Be sure to stay close and guide them around unfamiliar territory. Touching their shoulder as you say “this way” can provide a gentle way to help them get around, especially for big dogs.
3. Auditory Cues
Many types of noises can assist your dog as well. Tapping their bowl before filling it with food will quickly make them aware that it’s mealtime. Having a bell near the door they go out can let them know it’s time to go outside for the bathroom. As you get into a routine with your dog, you’ll notice they naturally pick up on other sound cues as well.
We hope this information can bring you support as you navigate owning a dog dealing with blindness. Remember to keep doing activities that make your dog happy! A new squeaky toy every so often can be very exciting and can keep their spirits high. A brisk walk - however quick - can be extremely refreshing and provide amazing mental stimulation.
We wish your dog good health!