How to Care for a Blind or Visually-Impaired Dog

Like people, dogs often experience failing eyesight because they get older—and need a "seeing eye" in the same way you would. Looking after your pet dog who's losing his vision (or who's already gone blind) can give you a special set of challenges for the remaining family. But a loss of eyesight certainly doesn't mean an undesirable standard of living, especially for pet parents that are willing to modify how they care for their impaired canine.

Common Causes

Dogs can go blind for a number of reasons, from disease to old age. Some of the very most common reasons for blindness in dogs are cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, and suddenly acquired retinal degeneration (also known as SARDS).

Certain breeds and sexes will also be more susceptible to blindness. Middle-aged female dogs, for instance, are especially vulnerable to SARDS, that causes blindness quite suddenly. Dachshunds, miniature schnauzers, and mutts are at higher-than-average risk for the disease as well, according to research reported on by PetMD. Cataracts, meanwhile, tend to be more common in miniature poodles, cocker spaniels, miniature schnauzers, golden retrievers, Boston terriers, and Siberian huskies.

Beta Carotene

Good nutrition is crucial to your dog's health and can help in keeping his vision healthy in some cases, although SARDS and similar vision-impairing conditions have no known treatment or approach to prevention.

But, beta carotene will help a dog's vision. In accordance with Pet360, several foods which can be healthy for both of you, such as for instance carrots and cantelope, are recognized to strengthen a dog's vision and decrease the chances of cataracts. Try to find dog food that lists beta carotene in its ingredients — Hill's® Science Diet®, for example.

Necessary veterinary care will be different according to what's causing your dog's blindness. Along with beta carotene, your vet might suggest seeing a veterinary ophthalmologist, which may be more costly than routine care. When searching with this specialist, a great place to start is an on line directory kept by your country's veterinary ophthalmologist professional organization, such as American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologist (ACVO).

Living With Blind Dogs

The Fight Or Flight Response

Dogs respond to blindness differently. Some owners witness severe depression within their dogs. Some owners report aggressive behavior changes. And yet, other owners report which they never even suspected that their dogs went blind because nothing changed. Some dogs remain totally unfazed by the situation. Just like humans, dogs may utilize a number of behaviors to help them cope with vision loss. They may utilize multiple behavior at any given time, and they may switch back and forth between behaviors. Typical behaviors your pet dog may display include depression, fear, aggression, and dependence. Since your pet dog cannot understand what is happening, and since we cannot communicate that to him, we are able to only surmise what's going right on through the dog's mind. One animal behaviorist believes that animals perceive physical ailments akin to being attacked by another animal. You will find similarities involving the responses of a sick (or blind) dog, and your pet dog being attacked… so there may be some value in this concept. Dogs have a strong “fight or flight” response. Based on a number of factors, your pet dog may operate and fight challenges (attackers) or he may flee (run from attackers). Neither response is wrong. They are both survival mechanisms and don't have any reflection on a dog's intelligence or “goodness&rdquo.


Fear And Aggression


If indeed, your pet dog responds to blindness as although it was an attacker, he may try to “fight&rdquo ;.If your pet was a dominant, aggressive dog before the blindness, this could be apparent now. Similarly, if your pet was a fearful individual before the blindness, this may possibly manifest itself now as aggression, as fear and aggression are closely linked. Without the capability to identify a genuine attacker, canine may lash out at family members. The dog may snarl, snap and bite other dogs in the household, their owners and family friends. This can be a common reaction. (See “Pack” section for helpful hints.) There is a fine line to handling these situations successfully. On the one hand, aggression is not behavior that you ought to encourage or accept. On one other hand, canine has already been stressed, and fearful. A strong reprimand could serve to escalate the specific situation in to a full-fledged attack. Attempt to minimize whatever situations incite the aggression… other dogs sniffing him, neighboring children visiting. Issue a calm reprimand. Do not pet, cuddle, baby talk or otherwise reward canine following the aggressive behavior. That may only encourage it to be repeated. As you progress into the training program, specific activities is likely to be outlined to help you deal with this particular issue.

Toys and Games for You and Your Blind Dog

Must be blind dog relies so heavily on smell and hearing, it is likely to be helpful to pick toys that activate those senses.

Dawn Rehus, an avowed pet training instructor, recommends trying “Hide and Seek” together with your dog. “Hiding at close perimeters and slowly expanding is not just a fun game, but additionally teaches your dog in the future,” Rehus explains. You may also hide small treats and let your dog use his sense of smell to locate them.

Several treat-dispensing toys are available on the market, which are ideal for blind dogs. The Buster Cube could be stuffed with treats, and when your dog interacts with the toy, treats fall out for him to enjoy. Similarly, Kong toys may also be great for scent games. Fill the within with peanut butter or any treat your dog loves and he is likely to be occupied for hours.

Scented toys are great for engaging blind dogs in playtime. Jolly Critters Dog Toys are vanilla scented, making them easy to discover in “think it is!” games together with your dog. Just be sure and select non-toxic scented toys.

When in doubt, try to find toys that produce sounds. The Talking Babble Ball makes funny noises when enjoyed, and it is available in many different sizes. Pet stores sell many different toys that squeak when squeezed or chewed, which can be entertaining to blind dogs. Check out Ethical Pet Plush Skinneeez stuffing-free toys and Kong Wubba, a tough, squeaky Kong toy.