Through a Dog’s Eyes

Did you know that a dog’s vision is not exactly like your own? Dogs are farsighted, which means that they have trouble seeing objects nearest to them, but as a dogs age their ability to see clearly becomes more challenged.

You may have noticed that your elderly dog takes more time to recognize you when you first return home, or perhaps your dog recently had trouble climbing steps and he no longer appears interested in chasing the ball. If your dog is beginning to lose sight drastically, he may show signs of fear, aggression and/or increased dependence on you. With older dogs, you may also begin to see a  filmy covering in their eyes. Fortunately, this film does not mean that your dog can no longer see. However, if the cloudiness appears extremely dense and white, then the dog’s vision may be impacted to a greater degree. This heavy white coating may actually be cataracts, and you should consult with your veterinarian for a formal checkup. Your vet can offer surgical treatments that can help to restore much of your dog’s vision.

If your dog is blind or is losing his sight, there are measures that you can take to make his life a bit easier.

  • Avoid moving furniture in the house. Blind dogs become familiar with their environment and any little change may startle them. Do not leave the vacuum cleaner out in the middle of the living room floor.
  • When you take your dog outside, always place him on a leash. The leash is an extension of your arm and will offer guidance and security.
  • Ensure that your dog’s food and water bowls are always kept in the same spot. A pet fountain is the best source of water for a blind dog as the sound of the running water will lead him straight to the source.
  • Take into consideration that your dog will most likely prefer to walk than run. A short lead should always be used.
  • A blind dog will rely heavily on his other senses, such as his sense of smell. Use a bitter apple spray or some other scented oil on the areas that you want to train your dog to avoid.
  • A baby gate is essential for those areas of the house that your dog should steer clear of. For example, the top of a stairwell.
  • Since a blind dog may become startled easily, always be sure to speak to your dog before touching him. Advise any stranger who wishes to pet your dog to do the same. You can also attach a few bells to your shoelaces so your dog feels the security of knowing where you are at all times. If you have a second dog in the home, attach the bells to your second dog’s collar so your blind dog will be able to follow the sound of the bells as a lead.
  • If your dog is suddenly diagnosed as vision impaired, be sure to safeguard your home and your yard before bringing your dog home. Pad any sharp corners. The yard should be kept clear of lawn mower, rakes, shovels or any other garden instruments.

A blind dog’s lifestyle may require certain precautions. However, he is still a dog and as such should continue to enjoy all of the pleasures of being a dog. That means plenty of playtime, long walks, and socialization with both humans and other animals. Being the owner of a blind dog can be a truly rewarding relationship. A blind dog can teach us important lessons such as patience, persistence and can create a meaningful bond like no other. Emphasize the senses they do have… sense of smell, touch, hearing and feelings. Never underestimate the abilities of your blind dog and what, with time and patience, you can accomplish together.

Resources: “How Dogs Think, Understanding the Canine Mind” by Stanley Coren

Photo credit: David Noah 1

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