As your dog or cat grows older, you’ll notice many changes. Your pal won’t be the active pup or kitten they once were, their appetite might change, and they’ll love to sleep. Some changes can be challenging and hard to accept, like hearing loss or going blind.
Dogs and cats can experience vision loss for various reasons, many associated with aging. Pets might struggle to navigate the terrain, have difficulty finding their way around, or get stuck in unfamiliar places. You can help ease the transition by setting up predictable pathways and areas in your home so your pet stays familiar with their surroundings, even when they can’t see.
It’s also essential to start working closely with your vet to monitor your furry friend’s vision. Certain medications could maintain your pet’s limited vision a bit longer before reaching total blindness. It’s important to remember that a blind pet can live a fulfilling and happy life with proper preparations and care.
Signs That Your Pet Is Going Blind
Blindness in pets can occur for many reasons, often associated with conditions that coincide with old age. However, your pet could also have specific eye issues that can bring on blindness sooner, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, or other serious problems. One easy-to-spot sign of impending vision loss is cloudy eyes, but it’s not the only sign of blindness.
No matter what the reason for your dog or cat’s blindness, here are some things to look for that could indicate vision loss:
- Cloudy eyes
- Your pet doesn’t seem to look at you
- Bumping into objects
- Walking and tripping over objects directly in their path instead of going around them
- Seeming confused or dazed
- Easily startled by a sound or touch
- Hesitating when in a new place
- Unwillingness to go up or down steps
- Becomes fearful in a new place
- Increased defensiveness or aggression
How to Help a Blind Pet Adjust
Although watching your faithful friend go blind can be hard, it’s often more difficult for the pet parent than the pet. A blind pet can still live a very fulfilling and active life with the proper training and steps.
Here are a few ways to make sure you can make the adjustment as easy as possible for both of you.
Create a Safe Place First for Your Blind Pet
The most important thing to do when your pet starts to lose their vision is to ensure their surroundings are safe. Keep furniture and items in the same spot to minimize your pet knocking into them. Animals are very good at remembering their pathways and walking them by memory.
If you decide to rearrange the furniture, this can create some hazards for a blind pet. Likewise, keep things off the floor that shouldn’t be there. For example, if you have children, make sure they pick up toys after playing, etc.
Secure areas that present dangers. If you have a swimming pool, make sure there is a closed fence around it. Keep the exterior doors closed at all times. If you have a doggy door, it’s time to close it up.
Place baby gates across rooms where your dog or cat should not go. If your pet’s still a climber or jumper, keep the doors closed. When you limit where your pet can go, you greatly minimize their risk of injury.
Just because your pet is going blind doesn’t mean they don’t want to play. Continue to interact with your pet, but use toys that offer other sensory experiences. Toys that crinkle, rattle, squeak, and make other noises are lots of fun. You can also give your pet interactive toys to help keep them engaged, like the Rolly Cannoli.
If your dog is a working dog or very active and used to a variety of activities, look for special things you can do together. AKC Scent Work revolves around a dog’s most powerful sense, smell. In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is so powerful, blind dogs can adjust so much easier to blindness than humans do.
Continue Your Training
If you’re still training your dog when they start going blind, you don’t need to stop. You just need to adjust your technique a bit. Just as trainers incorporate more visual cues and physical touch to train deaf dogs, work in more sounds and use physical contact with a blind pet.
Don’t Move Your Pet’s Belongings
Ensure you maintain the same location for your blind pet’s belongings. Keep their bed in the same place and easily accessible. Also, make sure their food and water dishes remain in the same spot. If they have a toy basket, keep it in the exact location as well. Your pet gets used to where their things are, and they will use their other senses and memory to find what they need.
Add Some Texture to the Floors
Incorporating some floor mats or rugs with texture can help your dog or cat recognize specific locations better. If they get off track a bit, finding the texture can help put them back on the right course.
What to Expect with a Blind Pet
Your pet is still the dog or cat you love and adore. Just because they’re blind doesn’t mean they love you any less or don’t want to play and do what they enjoy. But here are some things you can expect with a blind pet:
- You’ll need to be more patient—it’s going to take your pet a little extra time to get around and do some things.
- If you want to change something in your house, take the time to acquaint your pet with the changes. Walk with them until they get used to the new arrangement.
- However, if you’re used to changing up your home’s furniture layout often, you’ll have to put that on hold for a while.
- You might have to occasionally “rescue” your stuck pet. If your dog or cat gets slightly off-course on their way to another room, they could end up stuck behind a door or in another tight spot. (This is another reason it helps to keep all the doors closed.)
- Get used to constantly tidying up your house to keep the floor clear for your pets.
- You’ll start leaving the TV or radio on, especially when you’re not around. It helps your blind pet feel more at ease. (Leaving music on for any pet during the day is a good idea; they appreciate the ambient noise.) The noise can also block any unfamiliar sounds that might occur (a car door, sirens, horns, etc.) and startle your pet.
Your Blind Pet Is Still Your Fur Baby
When your dog or cat loses their sight, it can be hard for you to witness, especially thinking about how they can’t see you anymore. But, it’s vital to remember that pets can adjust much more easily than you think. When you take the time to create safe zones and continue to play and work with your pet, they will continue to live a happy and full life.
To learn more about your furry friend and how to care for them the best, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll also find an assortment of resources with fun ways to spend time with your pet and make the most of your time together.