It is not always easy to spot the signs of Dog going blind, but if you’re thinking that your perfect pup may be starting to struggle with its eyesight, it is best to know the signs to look for and how best to deal with it.
Some breeds are more prone to hereditary disorders which can lead to vision loss and other eye problems, and so recognizing the symptoms early could help you to seek correct treatment in good time. It can also help to know how to tell if a dog is blind already so that you know how best to approach and handle them.
Signs That Your Dog is Losing Their Sight
Your dog’s eyes can be extremely helpful in sharing information which can be a strong indicator of their overall health. There is a multitude of serious health conditions which can be indicated by the health of your dog’s eye, such as head trauma, poisoning, diabetes, pain, disease, auto-immune conditions, seizures, and cancer.
When it comes to vision deterioration, there is a list of symptoms and signs of blindness in dogs that are worth looking out for. These signs could help you to identify if your dog seems to be struggling with its eyesight. Individually they may not necessarily be connected with sight loss, however, if you are noticing several signs at once it may be worth contacting your veterinarian for a bit of professional advice.
Cloudy Appearance of the Eye or Eyes
Look out for small white spots, or a clouded veil over the eye, this is the most common indication of cataracts or glaucoma. Both of these conditions happen very slowly over a long period of time, so a comparison with an only image of your dog could help you to see any differences.
Abnormal Pupil Dilation
Canine pupils, much like humans, should respond to various lighting conditions, so if your notice that one or both of your dog’s eyes don’t seem to be responding properly to the lighting in the area, this could be a sign of blindness. if a dog is unable to see the light, its eyes are unable to respond.
Reduced Eye Contact or Inability to Focus on You
If your puppy is used to coming up to you and staring you in the eyes but has recently stopped doing so, it could be a sign of vision impairment, this is also true if you noticed that your canine pal seems to be struggling to focus on the details of your face and needs to be much closer to you when interacting.
Your Dog is Bumping into Objects Frequently
As you would expect, clumsy behavior will be extremely common with any dog that is struggling with vision issues. They may misjudge a jump, overestimate the distance of a piece of furniture, or be generally klutzy, this will be particularly noticeable if you change to move your furniture around as the unfamiliar terrain will be harder for them to navigate.
Seeming Confused, Dazed, or Easily Startled
Confusion is very common with dog blindness, and in fact, if a dog is experiencing sudden blindness they can become dazed and easily startled as they are trying to understand their surroundings, the smallest things can feel like big obstacles.
Showing Hesitation, Anxiety, or Fear When in New Places
If your dog is struggling with a loss of vision they will likely become hesitant or anxious if they are put into a new place, as you would expect they are feeling unsure and nervous to be in an area that they cannot see properly and will need guidance from their owners.
Signs of Depression
If your dog’s vision has started to deteriorate rapidly, the unsettling nature of something so big happening can cause them to become depressed, as they are unable to play properly, navigate the house or see their family. This depression in blind dogs can be represented by disinterest in engaging with their owner, lethargy, and general unresponsiveness.
You can help them through this with plenty of reassurance, treats, and by finding new ways for them to do what they want, even with their vision loss.
Unwillingness to Venture into New Spaces
If your pooch is struggling with vision problems they will likely become hesitant or anxious if they are put into a new place, as you would expect, they are feeling unsure and nervous to be in an area that they cannot see properly, as what seems like a simple place suddenly becomes an obstacle course and will need guidance from their owners.
Your Dog Suddenly Seems Unwilling to go up or Downstairs
Going up and down the stairs can be difficult enough for a dog, especially if they have short legs, but if they are unable to see where they’re going due to sight loss, they’re even less likely to want to risk the journey.
Defensive or Aggressive Behavior
A completely natural response for when a furry friend is feeling vulnerable, uncertain, and afraid is to become defensive, or even lash out. This type of behavior is often seen when a blind dog is introduced to a person or animal that they do not know, as their vision loss is preventing them from being able to judge the new face accurately, therefore preventing them from trusting one.
Do The Menace Reflex Test
There is an easy and simple at-home test that you can do to check your dog’s vision, which can help you decide whether or not you should approach your veterinarian for additional advice.
You can either do this with your hand or a couple of your canine buddy’s favorite toys. If you want to do this with your hand you will want to hold your hand roughly 18 inches away from your dog’s eyes, you will then move your hand quickly towards their eyes, being careful not to get too close and trying not to move your hands so fast as to cause an air current, and check when or if your pup blinks. If they don’t blink at all, or only blink when you are within a few inches of their eyes, then they are probably struggling with their eyesight.
If you choose to do this with a toy, then grab your pooch’s favorite toy and hold it at a height that is over their head and drop it to the ground, if your dog’s vision is healthy then they follow the item as it falls once it has entered their line of sight.
What Are the Causes of Blindness in Dogs?
There is a long list of potential reasons for why a dog might be losing its sight, which is where veterinarians come in, as they will have the knowledge of professional experience to be able to differentiate between them.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy is characterized by the bilateral degeneration of the retina which causes progressive loss of vision and eventually culminates in total blindness. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition and it is inherited by almost all dog breeds as a recessive trait.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)
SARDS is a disease that affects the thin visual cell layer of the retina which is responsible for receiving visual input and sending it to the brain. This disease will cause sudden and complete blindness in dogs and can affect dogs at any age, and there are no known preventative measures, treatments, or cures.
The macula component of the retina distinguishes detail and color. When the macular is affected by macular degeneration the dog’s vision will become impaired, affecting both their long-distance and short-distance vision. This is another disease that does not have any treatments, though there is a recommended surgery which is considered very risky.
High Blood Pressure
Not something you would ordinarily connect to vision loss, though an unfortunately common cause in many cases is high blood pressure. As a dog’s blood pressure increases, blood and fluids can begin to accumulate in such a way that they cause the retina to lift-away and detach. The more the retina becomes detached the worse the vision loss, though fortunately blood pressure is relatively easily remedied with help from your veterinarian, though it must be constantly monitored.
General sight loss loss is a natural part of the aging process, but by providing a regular eye exam with your veterinarian to check the condition of your dog’s eyes you can monitor whether or not they are developing any symptoms of sight loss that could be prevented, or whether you should prepare to own a potentially blind dog.
Cataract or Glaucoma
Cataract and glaucoma are two of the most common causes of sight loss, and often affect older dogs. The symptoms include clouding of the lens, sensitivity to light, and increased difficulty with night vision. If you should notice these symptoms with your pet it will be time for an intervention. Your dog will need to see your vet in order to plan any required treatment or potentially surgery. Cataract surgery it’s one of the more common procedures performed on dogs but can make a big difference.
Any pet can be at risk of developing diabetes throughout its life. The chances of them becoming blind as a result are entirely dependent on your management of it. Diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the retina of your dog, causing them to swell, leak discharge, or bleed causing scarring or irreparable damage to the retina. The symptoms of this condition can range from small black spots in their vision to total blindness if left untreated. Insulin shots are a must-have if you have a dog with diabetes, to avoid a myriad of unfortunate symptoms, not only blindness.
Eye infections are often rectified with simple medication to keep your dogs eyes from developing complications. If you suspect your dog may have an eye infection, simply contact your vet and request a checkup, vets will perform a simple eye exam to check your dog’s eyes for the cause. Many dogs with droopy faces often experience issues with having an inturned eyelid, which in many cases can cause the fur to irritate the eye and result in infection, discharge, and redness.
Infections are not generally a problem, unless left untreated, as a continuous infection can cause issues with eyesight, and in some cases result in damage that cannot be repaired.
What to Do if Your Dog is Going Blind?
Any dog owners worth their salt will always look out for their dog’s well-being and will want to do anything to help if they think their pup may be experiencing eye problems, along with any other issues or illnesses throughout their life. Just remember that your vet is there to help, so don’t be afraid to use them.
If you’re worried about your dog’s pupils, eyelid, blood pressure, or just have a general concern about their eyesight, call your vet right away and request a consultation.
What Dog Breeds are Prone to Blindness?
You often see blindness and eye problems in purebred dogs, as they are more likely to develop certain visual defects during breeding. Though there are a few breeds that are more likely to go blind than others:
- Siberian huskies
- Cocker Spaniels
- Boston terriers
- German Shepherds
- Chow Chows
- Basset Hounds
If you have one of these beautiful breeds, keep a close eye on their eyes, and keep up with regular vet checks, especially as they are getting to the later stages of life.
How to Look After a Blind Dog
Predominantly you want to make sure that you are taking them on regular walks as they may not feel as inclined to move around (especially if they have become blind later in life), and try to avoid moving your furniture around so that they can feel confident when they are at home.
The best thing you can do in terms of keeping them entertained and active is to give them plenty of sensory entertainment that can stimulate the senses they have! There is a wide range of toys designed for blind dogs that can keep them mobile.
Blind dogs surprisingly do not need as much special care as you may think! If a dog is born blind, and it is all they have ever known, then they will figure the world out in their own way. If a dog starts to lose its sight when it gets older, then you may need to focus on retraining them to help them to navigate the world easier, though, with gradual sight loss, they will adapt as their sight worsens, so your guidance may not be as essential. Just make sure that they are happy, healthy, and active! Just like you would with any pup.
So long as you keep up with vet checks and are sure to pay attention to your dog as they grow to watch for any changes that may indicate blindness, you can feel confident that you are doing everything you can to protect your canine best friend, wherever possible, from losing their sight.
Q. Are dogs color blind?
A: Even though humans may not have the best vision when it comes to night-time or dark places, dogs actually have fantastic night vision. They are able to see with relative ease in dark environments, as this would be an extremely helpful tool when it comes to nocturnal hunting in the wild.
Q: Does this make the dog hurt?
A: If the blindness is caused by a degradation of the photoreceptors in the eyes Which conditions such as PRA or SARDS, then your dog will not feel any pain. The same goes for cataracts and glaucoma. However, if it is caused by severe infection or trauma, then your dog will undoubtedly feel pain, which your veterinarian can help them to handle with painkillers and treatment.
Q: Can blindness in dogs be temporary?
A: Blindness in dogs can be temporary depending on the cause. If it is the result of an eye infection, cataracts, or the early stages of glaucoma, then their sight can be restored with the proper treatment. Eye infections can usually be sorted with the use of proper medications, where glaucoma and cataracts are repaired with the use of surgery, though this does not necessarily guarantee 100% vision restoration.
Q: What does it mean when a dog’s eyes are cloudy?
A: Cloudy eyes tend to be a sign of either glaucoma or cataracts; if your dog’s eyes appear cloudy it is best that you call your veterinarian immediately and request a check-up so they may assess the health of your dog’s eyes, and create a treatment plan. Your vet will be able to tell if your dog is affected severely enough to require restorative surgery.
Q: What happens when a dog goes blind in one eye?
A: A pup that becomes blind in one eye may become disoriented from the lack of vision, and are likely to be more cautious than they were before since their vision is now down to 50% what it was. But fortunately, with one working eye, they will adapt well. So long as they can still see, they can’t adjust their movements accordingly.
Q: Can you walk a blind dog?
A: Yes, absolutely! You can still take your dog for a walk if they are blind, but you need to make sure that they are comfortable doing so. It is best to take them somewhere with a clearly laid path and be sure to keep them on a secure harness as close to your body as you can so that they know where to walk, and are less likely to walk into something. You will be their eyes, so look out for them.
Q: How long does it take to train a blind dog?
A: As new pet owners with a blind puppy, you will find that they are not much different to train than a normal dog, because being blind is all they’ve ever known, and they will make a wonderful pet regardless of their sight problems. An adult or senior dog that has become blind, however, will have a more difficult time adapting to the world around them, and training them will take longer as they have to relearn everything without the learning ability of puppydom.
The advice given in this article does not constitute medical advice for pets and is intended for informational purposes only. Please contact your vet in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis, regarding your pet’s condition, from a licensed professional, such as a veterinary ophthalmologist.