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Helping Your Dog Cope With Vision Loss

Helping Your Dog Cope With Vision Loss

You always thought your dog had sharp eyes, but lately she’s been bumping into furniture. She scrambles right past the balls you toss. She tilts her head when you enter the room. She tends to settle into corners, where she feels safe. And when you look closely at her eyes, her pupils are huge.

These are all signs of dog vision loss, which can be arise from one of several eye problems. Dogs that experience sudden vision loss may have a detached retina, a condition in which something triggers swelling that actually causes the retina to separate from the back of the eyeball. Triggers may include cancer, Lyme disease, fungal disease, autoimmune response, kidney disease, even high blood pressure. Or your dog may have lost her sight suddenly due to a blow to the head—say, from a car. More gradual vision loss may be caused by glaucoma or cataracts. Dogs with those conditions may have symptoms that include eyes that are bulging and sore to the touch.

Even if there is no cure for your dog’s blindness, be assured that blind dogs adapt relatively well to their situations. But before you start thinking about the worst-case scenario, call your vet for an accurate diagnosis and recommendations for treatment. Then start prepping to create a comfortable haven at home. Anyone living with blind dogs should consider the following ways to make their surroundings more familiar.


A Blind Dog Doesn’t Like Remodeling

A dog experiencing diminished eyesight relies heavily on its memory to navigate its surroundings. As a result, it’s crucial to maintain consistency in the dog’s environment, especially during this transitional period. This is not an ideal time to change the arrangement of your rooms, considering that your dog has become accustomed to the existing layout.

Consistency in the arrangement of furniture provides an anchor for your dog’s spatial awareness, helping them avoid potential accidents. The rooms in which your dog spends most of their time should remain as they are, in their familiar set-up. This familiarity will allow the dog to navigate using its memory of the surroundings, thereby reducing their risk of disorientation and injuries.

However, if it becomes necessary to rearrange the furniture or modify the room layout, it’s important to carefully introduce your dog to these changes. Start by personally guiding your pet through each newly arranged room. Be patient, walking alongside them, allowing them to feel and smell their way around until they become comfortable with the new setting. Remember, it may take some time for your dog to adapt to the new layout.

The goal is to ensure that the changes do not impact your dog’s quality of life, but rather help them adapt to their deteriorating eyesight. Any changes should always be done with the dog’s comfort and safety in mind.

Eye Problems? Dog Will Follow a Scent

Assisting your dog to navigate around your home, particularly when dealing with reduced eyesight, can be made easier by creating scent markers on prominent or potentially hazardous pieces of furniture. For instance, lightly applying a touch of perfume to the corner of a couch, or any other large or sharp item can guide your dog and help them form a ‘scent map’ of the space.

Choosing a high-quality perfume is advisable in this situation. Not only will it offer a pleasant and distinctive aroma that your dog can easily recognize, but it’s also less likely to cause damage to your furniture, as some cheaper, lower-quality fragrances might. It’s crucial, however, to first test the perfume on a small, less noticeable spot of the furniture to ensure it doesn’t discolor or damage the material.

Be careful not to over-saturate your home with the scent. The intention is to use the perfume as a guide for your dog, not to create an overwhelming fragrance cloud. If the whole room ends up smelling like perfume, it may confuse your dog more than aid them. Moderation is key – a gentle dab is sufficient for creating these helpful scent markers. Remember, the aim is to enhance your dog’s ability to navigate independently, without compromising their comfort or safety.

Dog’s Vision Loss Creates Hazards

For dogs with impaired vision, even familiar environments like their homes can become treacherous. Hazards could be present in areas that were previously simple to navigate, such as uneven floors or sharp corners. To help your dog move safely around the house, it’s beneficial to train them with certain keywords that are linked to specific locations or potential dangers.

Establish a set of verbal cues to signify different areas or items within your home. For example, when your dog is near the stairs, consistently use the word “stairs”. Similarly, if they approach the fireplace, utter the word “fire”. This process of associating a specific word with a specific location or potential danger will provide an additional tool for your dog to navigate their surroundings.

Reinforcement is key in learning. Each time your dog encounters a potential danger, such as a staircase or a fireplace, use the corresponding word and gently guide them away or help them deal with the obstacle. Over time, your dog will learn to associate the words with the areas of caution, enabling them to navigate more safely and confidently despite their diminishing eyesight.

This training is not just about creating a safer environment for your dog. It also fosters a deeper understanding and stronger bond between you and your pet, facilitating easier communication and enhancing their sense of security within the home.


Blind Dogs Deserve Extra TLC

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Helping Your Dog Cope With Vision Loss Dog blindness can be frightening, so remember to comfort and reassure him whenever possible. Talk to him when you enter or leave a room so that he knows where you are. Speak soothingly to him as you carry him to the car. Pet and comfort him if something startles him during a walk outside. He’ll adapt much more easily to vision loss—whether it’s short- or long-term—with your coaching.

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