Living With A Blind Dog – Giving Your Pet A Quality Life

Some people think that having a dog go blind is an automatic reason to have them put down, as it would be cruel to keep them alive. But those people are wrong!

Blind dogs, as long as they are cared for properly, can live happy, satisfying lives.

Although many canine eye diseases can be treated with medication or surgery, sometimes the eye disease is so severe that blindness in both eyes is the result. Two conditions which can cause this in dogs are progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and glaucoma. 

PRA is an inherited condition in which the retina of the dog’s eyes gradually and permanently deteriorates and usually affects a dog’s vision when he is around six to eight years old. Glaucoma is a condition characterized by increased pressure within the eye itself and can result in damage to the optic nerve as well as the retina, causing vision loss if the pressure cannot be controlled.

While the loss of vision for a dog is certainly unfortunate, unlike humans, dogs have other highly developed senses, such as smell and hearing, that make the loss of vision less troublesome for them than for humans. As a rule, dogs who lose their sight gradually do somewhat better than those dogs whose vision loss is sudden, although both will learn to adjust. 

On their own home turf, in their familiar environment, blinds dogs tend to do very well. As long as you don’t rearrange your furniture and leave his food and water bowls in their familiar location, as well as his bed, your dog will remember where they are and will likely need no help in getting to them. 

Blind dogs will still happily play with their toys, and many seem to prefer ones that contain a bell or squeaker as they are presumably easier to locate. You do need to be aware of hazards such as balconies, cars coming and going in your yard and swimming pools. You should always keep your blind dog on a leash or harness when he is outside the confines of a fenced in yard.

Just because your dog is blind does not mean he will lose his place as your trusted loving companion. In fact, his condition may bring you closer together.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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