As our pets age, they often face the same health issues we do. They may develop arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and more. Sometimes our beloved pet may even go blind.
While this can be a very sad diagnosis, it is certainly not a death sentence. The reality is that dogs and cats can live very happy, enjoyable lives without sight. Yes, things will be different moving forward, and you’ll both need to learn the “new normal.” But in time, you and your pet will create new memories together.
Signs Your Dog or Cat May be Losing Their Vision
If your pet’s vision has started to decline, you may notice the following:
- Cloudiness in the eye or red blood vessels
- Difficulty finding toys and treats
- They are easily startled
- Increased clumsiness
- Lower energy levels
- A lack of enthusiasm
If you notice any of these signs, you’ll want to speak to your veterinarian. He or she will most likely refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Vision loss is typically due to conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts. These conditions can sometimes be slowed or even repaired through treatment or surgery. A treatment plan will be determined based on the exact diagnosis and your pet’s age and overall health. Sometimes older pets are not good candidates for surgeries.
Should your pet’s vision loss not be reversible for any reason, they can still live out the rest of their days with enjoyment with a little bit of assistance from you.
10 Tips for Caring for Blind Pets
The following tips will help you help your furball live a happy life:
1. Make Their Environment Safe
It’s a good idea to establish a dedicated safe zone for your pet. This could be a spare bedroom or a corner of your living room. Make sure it’s cozy and uncluttered so they won’t bump into anything.
2. Talk to Your Pet More Often
Our dogs and cats are often our most trusted confidants. But now more than ever it’s important to speak to your dog or cat. The sound of your voice will soothe them and also help them determine where you are, and therefor where they are in the space.
It’s also important that you start getting into the habit of gently speaking to your dog or cat before touching them so you don’t startle them.
3. Help Them Navigate the House
Try to create what some call “location cues” for your dog or cat. For instance, you may want to lay down carpet runners around well-traveled parts of your home. This way your pet can follow the runner and navigate their way through the house.
4. Keep Your Routines Consistent
This is important for both dogs and cats, but particularly dogs. You can and absolutely should continue to take your dog on a walk, as daily exercise is great for his overall health and well-being. Just be sure to go the same route everyday so he can memorize it in his new state. Take him to the same parks as well.
It’s also important to keep your pet’s food and water bowl in a consistent location. You most likely did before the vision loss set in, so continue to place these bowls in the same place.
5. Blind-Proof Your Home
You may think your house is “safe enough,” but it’s really not until you actively “blind-proof” your home. This will require you to get down on all fours and look for potential hazards from your dog or cat’s point of view. Is there something dangerous they could bump into? Something they could fall from? Trip over?
It’s a good idea to put corner protectors on sharp furniture and always have baby gates blocking stairs.
6. Try a Blind Pet Halo
There are a few companies out there that manufacture what are called “halos” for blind pets. The halo surrounds your dog or cat’s face and it bumps into things before your precious pet’s face does. They won’t have to wear this item forever, but it’s a great way to keep them safe while they learn how to navigate their new world.
7. Let Others Know Your Pet is Blind
When people come over to your house, make sure you tell them your dog or cat is blind. Instruct them to never walk up and touch your dog or cat without first speaking to them. This is particularly important when walking your dog. You never want strangers to approach and start petting your dog without an introduction.
8. Get a New Tag Made
Be sure to have a tag made and place it on your pet’s collar that clearly states they are blind. Should they ever get out of the house and become lost, whoever finds them will know they are blind.
9. Leave the TV or Radio On
Even dogs and cats who aren’t blind enjoy ambient noise in the house when their humans have left. This helps them not feel so lonely. It’s a really good idea when your pet has suffered vision loss because the TV or radio acts as a location cue and helps them orient themselves.
10. Do Not Change Your Floor Plan
Once your pup or kitty has gotten the lay of the land, it’s best not to move furniture around. Just do your best to keep things as they are. This will save you and your pet from having to relearn the floor plan all over again.
While it’s never nice to hear that your beloved dog or cat is going blind, understand that they can still enjoy the rest of their life with you. If you follow these tips, your pet will have a wonderful quality of life.
Something Lost – Something Gained
When your pet is losing their vision, it can often mean many trips to the vet and even to a specialist such as a veterinary ophthalmologist. He or she may need to do multiple tests to be able to properly diagnose your dog or cat. This, along with follow-up visits and an ongoing treatment plan, can become quite costly.
A pet insurance plan can help you give your beloved pet the care they need while also protecting your wallet. Depending on the plan and the provider, you may be able to receive reimbursements for up to 90% of the bill.
Pet Insurance Review has a mission to help pet owners ensure their pet gets the quality care they need. We find the absolute best pet health insurance policies on the market today, so you can easily afford to give your fur baby the best treatment.
Get a free quote today. Your pet may have lost their vision, but you can gain peace of mind with a quality pet health insurance plan.
- Gibeault, S. MSc, CPDT. (2021) Dog Vision Loss: Signs, Symptoms, and Management Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/vision-loss-dogs-symptoms-management/
- Memphis Veterinary Specialists Retrieved from: https://www.memphisveterinaryspecialists.com/site/blog-cordova/2020/07/10/what-to-expect-cataract-surgery-for-dogs
- Mueller, L. (2021). Should You Get a Blind Dog Halo? Retrieved from: https://www.thesprucepets.com/should-you-get-a-blind-dog-halo-5115829