August 23rd, 2023 is Blind Dog Day. Loss of vision does not have to equate to loss of life. Visually impaired pets can lead full lives. It is important to recognize the caretakers of visually impaired pets who go above and beyond to make life full. However, it is equally important to protect the vision of pets, armed with knowledge on eye health and wellness.
Is My Pet Losing Vision?
Many owners of older pets wonder if their pet may be losing their vision. Sometimes the doctor may be able to see a sign of visual impairment, like cataract formation. Cataracts are simply a cloudy lens that prevents light from traveling to the retina. There are many behavioral signs of visual impairment as well. Pets that often bump into objects, or appear clumsy, especially in unfamiliar surroundings may be losing their vision. Pets who are unable to follow a toy when tossed but are able to find it when it drops and a noise is made may be visually impaired. Pets who will sniff their way to a treat offered may be visually impaired. Also, any differences in pupils or dilation when traveling between areas of different brightness are also indicators.
Making Adjustments for Visually Impaired Pets
If a pet has been diagnosed as visually impaired it is important to make adjustments to their lifestyle to make them feel safe and comfortable. Due to dangers in the outdoor environment, it is best that all visually impaired pets transition to house pets. Dogs may be allowed to spend unsupervised time outside as long as the yard is enclosed, free from bodies of water, and steep drop offs. Only let them out during mild weather. When outside of an enclosed area they should always be kept on a leash. Keeping the house layout very similar will keep pets comfortable. If the pet already has a house mate they are attached to, keep them together. Many pets will use their companion as a guide. Consider attaching a bell to the companions collar. Utilize their other senses, speak to them frequently, teach them commands to help them navigate their new environment safely. Block off any stairs or dangers that a pet may unknowingly walk into.
Pet Eye Health
Eye health is very important. A pet’s eye should be bright, glossy and free from debris. The whites of the eye, or sclera, should be white, not red or irritated. If you notice your pet’s sclera is red, the eye is puffy, swollen, bulging, sunken, irritated or dry please call your veterinarian immediately. If there is any green, yellow, or bloody discharge from the eye please call your veterinarian immediately. The eye is a very sensitive organ, injuries or changes in pressure can cause irreversible damage if not dealt with quickly.
Whether it’s Blind Dog Day, or any other day of the year, make sure to take steps to protect your pet’s vision! If your dog will be joining you on high speed side by side rides or riding with his head out the car window consider investing in googles. Take care when introducing new pets to the family, eye lacerations from cat claws can be extremely painful and serious! Long haired pets should have frequent hygienic trims to keep hair out of the eye. Short hair will keep dirt and debris from collecting near the eyes as well. As always, call Wags and Whiskers if you have any questions about your pet’s eye care needs.