Signs Your Dog May Be Going Blind
Just like humans, dogs experience a range of issues as they grow into their golden years. A particularly common issue that affects senior dogs is vision impairment. This is typically caused by cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and can sometimes be the side effect of other medical disorders such as hypertension, chronic dry eye, and diabetes.
It’s very rare for blindness to happen “overnight.” Full impairment can take many months or even years, which makes it particularly hard to diagnose early unless you’re explicitly looking for symptoms. Below we’ve outlined signs to look for and have also included best care practices for dogs with impaired vision.
Common Signs a Dog is Losing Their Vision
Because blindness happens so gradually, it can be difficult to notice signs. In some cases, blindness symptoms can even be mistaken for other conditions.
- Not venturing into new spaces / sticking to the same rooms in your home
- Aggressive or defensive behavior
- Anxiety, fear, and depression
- Reduced desire to play / engage in previous activities they loved
- White Spots or Cloudy Eyes — If you observe small white spots or an opaque veil over the entire eye, this is indicative of glaucoma or cataracts. Since both happen slowly over time, we recommend comparing your dog’s eyes with images that were taken several years ago to see if there’s been a notable change.
- Abnormal Pupil Dilation — Canine pupils should adjust in dark and bright light as human eyes do. You can test your dog’s dilation with a flashlight. Pupils that don’t dilate are a sign of blindness.
- Reduced or No Eye Contact — If your dog was once eager to look you in the eyes but stops doing so, it’s a sign that he or she may be losing their vision.
- Clumsy Behavior — Dogs that bump into furniture, mis-judge their leaps, or generally act clumsy, may be doing so because they can’t see clearly. This can be especially pronounced when you rearrange furniture or when you take your pup to a new location.
If you suspect your dog’s vision is impaired, consult your veterinarian right away. At your appointment, clearly convey your concerns and explain some of the behaviors you’ve noticed. Your vet will carefully examine your dog, perform some tests, and make a diagnosis.
Treatment is highly dependent on the cause of your dog’s blindness, as well as how quickly the issue is caught. For example, roughly 40% of dogs that develop glaucoma will eventually go blind, and cataracts can result in permanently impaired vision if not treated promptly. Conversely, minor trauma to the eye from accidents or infection are far less likely to lead to permanent blindness. It’s important to see a vet immediately if you suspect anything is wrong with your dog’s eyes. He or she can provide you with a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Caring for a Blind Dog
Dogs with impaired vision can still live happy and full lives. It just requires a little extra attention to detail, patience, and TLC from their owners to help navigate the world around them. If your dog is going blind, or is already blind, the following can help make their lives more comfortable.
- Keep things predictable — always place water and food in the same spot and avoid rearranging your home. If you must make a change, carefully guide your pet through the changes so they know what’s different.
- Provide a safe space — a small, unchanging room or even large kennel can serve as a safe and predictable space for your pooch. Make this area comfortable by providing cozy blankets and items with your scent.
- Dog proof your home — look at your home and yard from the perspective of a blind dog. Where might your pooch bump into dangerous objects? Knock things over? Fall? Unknowingly stray? These potential hazards should be addressed promptly.
- Announce Yourself — Blind dogs rely on sound and vibrations. To prevent startling your pooch, walk with heavy steps or say hello when you enter a room. Also make sure to announce yourself before petting on snuggling.
- Practice patience — it may be frustrating if your dog keeps knocking objects over or whimpers and barks excessively. Instead of getting annoyed, use these moments to practice extra patience and shower your pet with love and affection.
Eye conditions are common across all ages, but by enrolling in pet insurance before your pup exhibits symptoms, claims will be covered.. If you aren’t already a pet parent with us, look into getting a free quote to help safeguard not just your dog, but your wallet too.