What is the Best Way to Care for a Blind Dog?

Visually-impaired elder Shiba Inu mix

Blindness affects a wide range of animals, including dogs. Some dogs are born blind, while others go blind later in life. However, regardless of how a dog becomes blind, blind canines require unique care that is not required of seeing dogs. Knowing how to care for a blind dog may help save a lot of hassles, misunderstandings, and even injuries, so dog owners should learn about their blind dogs' specific requirements.

Causes of Blindness in Dogs

While some dogs are born blind owing to a lack of eyes (anophthalmia), small eyes (microphthalmia), or other developmental abnormalities, others may acquire disorders that cause them to lose their sight as they age or as a consequence of trauma.

  • Cataracts: Inside part of the eye called the lens, cloudiness can occur to create a cataract. These white opacities are common in older dogs but can also develop due to . Some dogs may also be born with them or develop them as .
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma occurs when the normal pressure in the eye increases. If this pressure stays too high for an extended period of time it can cause damage to the optic nerve inside the eye and result in blindness.
  • Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS): This rare disease can cause sudden blindness due to deterioration of the retina inside the eye. No one knows what causes SARDS.
  • : Dogs with PRA lose their sight as the rods and cones inside the retina in the eye die off. This is an inherited disease that has two forms with one form showing up in puppies and the other form not showing up until a dog is older.
  • Retinal Detachment: This can occur as a result of a variety of things in dogs but if the retina detaches inside the eye, a dog will lose its vision.
  • Corneal Ulcers: Ulcers are very common in dogs but if they are left untreated or do not heal properly they can cause blindness. Blindness can occur due to damage to the cornea or if the ulcer is so deep that it causes the eye to rupture.
  • Other Trauma: Proptosis, punctures, and other horrific aside from ulcers can cause blindness.
  • Nervous System Diseases: If a dog has a problem with certain parts of its brain, meningitis, or other nervous system diseases blindness may occur.

Training a Blind Dog

Overall, blind dogs may live normal lives, but training them to obey basic instructions needs approaches that are different from those used with sighted dogs. It will be simpler for a dog born blind to learn and adjust, but it may take longer for a dog who is used to being seeing.

  • Avoid hand signals: Instead of hand signals, use verbal cues, tasty treats, and clicker training to teach your blind dog tricks and commands. Get in the practice of alerting your dog when it is about to bump into something with a word like "watch" or when it is approaching a step with a word like "step." These cues will help keep your dog safe and more confident in its surroundings.
  • Do not rearrange furniture: Moving furniture around makes it harder for a blind dog to learn its surroundings. A blind dog often memorizes the lay out of a house and can avoid bumping into furniture if it doesn't change.
  • Use bells: Placing bells on the collars of other pets and on people either as a bracelet, on a belt loop, or on the shoelaces helps a blind dog learn where you and other animals in the house are.
  • Feed in the same place: Avoid moving food and water dishes around so that a blind dog knows exactly where to go if it is hungry or thirsty. Putting these dishes in the same place every day will make it less stressful for a blind dog to navigate to them.
  • Use textures: Different surface textures may make it easier for a blind dog to know where it is in a house. Carpeting or rugs in one room feel different than tile in another room and this may help a blind dog learn its environment more easily.
  • Consider a sighted friend for your blind dog: Some blind dogs thrive when they have a sighted dog to be their guide dog. If your blind dog has a friend they already know and trust this may be of benefit but some friendly dogs may also be receptive to adding a new dog to the house for this purpose.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.