All Things Dog

Common diseases in older dogs: Blindness

Your dog's vision is one of the senses that will most likely begin to deteriorate as he gets older. In some cases, conditions like cataracts or glaucoma lead to blindness. With cataracts, you'll notice a change in the appearance of your dog's eyes as they take on a whitish-looking coat. Other signs of blindness include:

  • Tripping and running into furniture or doorways
  • Dilated pupils
  • Eyes that seem to be 'glowing'
  • Cloudy eye surface
  • Red, painful looking eye
  • If you do discover that your dog is blind, there are ways you can help him adjust. First of all, stay positive and stay calm. Above all, suppress the urge to over-coddle your dog by carrying him up the stairs or bringing food to him rather than having him go to his food dish on his own. This will only cause your to become anxious or depressed. Instead, take on the role of a teacher instead of simply taking over. Encourage your dog to do things on his own (without sacrificing safety, of course), even if it takes a little longer than usual.

    It's important to remember that your dog has other senses that you can help him develop even further. Using his strong sense of smell and his sense of touch, you can train your dog to find his way with unique scents and textures. For example, use plug-in air fresheners or scented candles in each room to help the dog develop a map of the house through his sense of smell. Scented oils can help warn the dog of the presence of a wall or furniture as he approaches. Try placing textured materials or mats at the entrances to rooms or the garden. Your dog will be able to feel the difference when he enters the room. For the first week or so, you will need to stick quite closely to your dog and guide him through the house. But he will soon pick up the scents and figure out where he is. You'll be amazed at your dog's adaptability.

    Most blind pets can live happy, quality lives if you follow a few simple guidelines to make life easier for them. So ask the advice of your vet and begin to understand that if you remain positive, your dog's blindness isn't a debilitating problem at all.

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