Blindness in dogs, in most cases, is not the result of a sudden and specific event visual event. In the majority of dog blindness cases, the visual acuity loss and deterioration occurs over a period of time unbeknownst to the dog owner. Understanding the causes of dog blindness, initial symptoms in loss of visual acuity, the methods in which dogs compensate for loss of vision and the home remedies recommended by dog owners, can improve the life of your dog and provide a healthy and safe environment in which the dog can continue to reside.
Canine blindness, as a general rule, is attributed to progressive diseases such as cataracts, corneal disease, retinal inflammation and even glaucoma. At the onset of these conditions, the dog’s ability to compensate for the vision loss, by overusing the unaffected eye, is astounding. This level of compensation is so discreetly performed that not even the dog owner realizes the family pet has a loss of vision. It is not until the visual deterioration has affected both eyes that the dog owner begins to realize there is an issue of concern. Indications of vision loss, in the dog, would include a sudden clumsiness, disorientation with regard to food and water location, being easily startled and a loss of interest in play. When the family dog exhibits these symptoms, a visit with a veterinarian, for an optical examination, is prudent.
When suffering from vision loss, a dog’s other senses become hypersensitive to the environment. As a result, dogs will continue to function in normal and healthy environments through their use of touch, smell and sound. Under normal circumstances, the dog’s sensation of smell and sound are far more sensitive than humans. However, in cases of blindness, these same senses become far more keen into the environment in which the dog resides.
To aide the family dog, when inflicted with blindness, it is recommended that we cater to these additional hyper senses. In terms of touch, the dog may use the texture of floors and carpets to determine in what room they are standing and how to maneuver around furniture. As a result, it is recommended that furniture rarely be moved and floors and rugs be provided in a variety of textures. For the sense of smell, the dog may determine what rooms smell like bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and where basic food and water bowls are located. For the smell differentiation, the dog owner may use aromatherapy providing a different scent for each room. In terms of sound, the dog will use television, radio and even the sound of fans and footsteps to determine the presence of their surroundings and how they should proceed within each room. For this reason, televisions should be limited to only a few rooms while fans, running at higher speeds, may be necessary for other rooms. Again, in an effort to ensure safety for the dog, avoiding the manipulation of furniture, sounds and textures is highly recommended as this may confuse the blind dog and lead to bodily injury as the dog may become more disoriented due to lack of sight and the inability to orient the senses used to compensate for the vision loss.
For most dog owners, the learning of the family dog’s blindness is quite traumatic. However, following some basic guidelines in care of the vision loss and ensuring the dog is provided with a safe and consistent home environment, focusing on the dog’s ability to hear, smell and feel the environment, will ensure a happy and fulfilling life.