Can Dogs Go Blind?

Dogs are like people in more ways than one.

Yes, dogs can go blind. Dogs are capable of experiencing loss of vision and possible blindness like us.

Old age is one of the main culprits for vision loss. However, unlike us, they have incredible olfactory senses and extraordinary hearing capacity. This makes the vision loss a little more manageable for them compared to us.

With the right love and care, your dog may adjust to his new life fairly quickly. It will definitely come with a lot of extra love and support from your side, with a whole lot of effort. But it will be well worth it to see your furry best friend still living his best life despite the challenge.

Let us explore some of the causes, some of the symptoms of loss of vision in our beloved pets, and how to care for them.

Why Do Dogs Go Blind?

A long list of reasons may contribute to your dog’s failing vision.

Cataracts

Some kind of opacity in the lens of your dog’s eye. Can stop light from reaching the retina. Can be developed in one or both eyes. Some veterinary ophthalmologist are capable of removing cataracts and inserting artificial lens in an effort to restore your dog’s vision.

Glaucoma

Fluid build-up inside the eye. This increases eye pressure, causing severe pain and retinal damage, eventually causing blindness. It can be treated if diagnosed in time.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

In PRA, the retina degrades, sometimes in young puppies (2 months), and sometimes in older adult to middle-aged dogs. PRA does not have a cure and some breeds like Bedlington terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, Rottweilers, American cocker spaniels, English springer spaniels.

Hypertension

This can cause the delicate retina to be damaged partly or completely, resulting in either partial or complete blindness.

Chronic Dry Eye

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca. In layman’s terms – KCS or dry eye. And as the name suggests, this is when your dog’s eyes do not produce proper tears to lubricate the eye.

To ease this feeling of unease, your dog’s body will start producing a mucus instead of tears to provide protection. But this may also result in loss of vision due to mucus covering the eye. Treatment is available after being diagnosed by the vet.

Untreated Infections

Caused mainly by scratches or debris left unattended. Get it checked and treated by your vet if you notice your dog rubbing eye or watery eyes.

Tumours

Also, much like humans, dogs can suffer from tumours. They can block vision and require removal of the tumour and eye, as well, in some cases. Get it seen to by a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)

Thankfully, it is a rare disease. But it can cause permanent blindness that occurs overnight. VCA Hospitals notes that some dog breeds can be genetically exposed to acquire this disease. Such as: Dachshunds, Miniature schnauzers, Pugs, Bichons, Cocker spaniels, English springer spaniels, Beagles, Maltese, Brittany spaniels.

Age

It gets us all in the end (sometimes the middle). Frequent check ups by the vet might be crucial in diagnosing any cataract development or diabetes or hypertension. All of which can result in less-than-ideal vision.

Why Do Dogs Go Blind?

What Is It Like To Live With A Visually Impaired Dog?

A quick Google search will enable you to find some volunteer organizations in your area. These may cater to helping blind and visually impaired dogs. Go ahead and ask them for advice. Our tips are:

• Using bells on your dog and yourself will make it that much easier for him to find you and for you to know where he might be heading off to.

• Try seeing from his point of view. Crouch down to his level and see what could potentially hurt him.

• Try and figure out a new routine with him. Like getting him from his bed to his food bowl, his favourite napping spot, etc.

• It would help your dog if any obstacles were cleared off his pathways.

• While taking a visually impaired dog out for his daily walks, you might have to use a leash to guide him to his favourite “business” areas.

• He still needs his exercise. Let him out, guide him with your leash and keep a close eye on him. He will appreciate the outing.

• In a big, open area (beaches are usually ideal), you can allow your dog to play with toys that make noise. He will enjoy the activity and have fun with it.

What Is It Like To Live With A Visually Impaired Dog?

What Are The Signs I Should Look Out For?

Loss of eyesight is almost always gradual, but there may be symptoms to keep an eye out for. If he has gotten cloudy eyes, white spots on the eyes, has started stumbling into things he normally wouldn’t be bothered by, or if he is starting to doubt himself while climbing stairs or in a new environment, lack of jumping on and off furniture he used to love jumping on off from, some redness and swelling on or around the eyes, rubbing his eyes and squinting, gets frightened by petting, not his usual furball of energy kind of response to playing, or, if you see his pupils not dilating in a dark room or vice versa in bright light.

Summary

It is going to be a tough time on both you and your dog. He will feel self-doubt which might reduce his love for doing things he previously used to enjoy tremendously.

You have to be patient with him. Try to get the diagnosis, and then the prognosis. And work from there.

In the meantime, do everything you can to make him comfortable with his now less-than-perfect eyesight. And keep in mind that their senses of smell and hearing are so much more than us, making them capable of doing so much more with them, and adjusting to this new type of way of life in a better fashion.

Just take care of them and shower them with unlimited love, they will feel it and appreciate it.