Pets that suffer from blindness, either sudden or due to old age, can still enjoy an excellent quality of life. As an owner, the best thing you can do for a blind dog or cat is to make adjustments around the home and learn all you can about their condition. In this article, the experts at Sydney Veterinary Emergency & Specialists are discussing blindness in cats and dogs and what you can do to help.
The Causes of Pet Blindness
The causes of pet blindness can range from the normal degenerative process of ageing, to sudden blindness due to an illness. An untreated infection or a stroke may result in temporary or permanent loss of vision. In dogs, blindness can be a symptom of a larger problem such as heart, kidney and liver illnesses and diabetes.
Vision issues can range from slightly hazy to complete blindness, and this can be hereditary.
Cats and Dogs can Adjust Easily to Blindness
Dogs and cats have very different vision to humans. They have excellent night and peripheral vision, but have trouble distinguishing fine details and different colours. Luckily, they have highly developed senses of smell and hearing so they are less dependent on their eyes than we are. Pets adapt well to loss of vision – this usually takes about 2 months before they stop bumping into things. If they do injure themselves, take them to an animal emergency service to inspect the wound.
Blind cats and dogs memorise the layout of their home and yard so they can find their way around without needing their eyes. It will always take a bit of time for a pet to adjust, but there are things you can do to help them!
Things You Can Do to Help
To better care for your blind pet, you can:
- avoid changing their environment so they can rely on memory (if you need to move houses, give them time to adjust and be careful of obstacles)
- encourage exercise and walk them with a harness
- buy noisy toys or toys with a specific smell
- consider bringing home a companion animal that your blind pet can follow through the house and yard
- avoid stressing or scaring your animal – use calm voices and approach them slowly until they have adjusted completely
- confine them to a smaller area in the beginning and then slowly expand it
- make sure you put away toys and small objects to avoid confusion
- pad the edges of sharp furniture while your pet is learning
- use a baby gate in front of stairs until they are aware of navigating their surroundings
- be patient
Support Them in Every Way
Focus on the remaining senses your pet has. They will be attuned to vibrations, smells and sounds, so use this to your benefit. If your pet’s blindness is caused by a larger illness, seek treatment with an emergency vet clinic as soon as possible. A simple check-up will determine this, and an expert opinion can help you deal with the disorder.