Blindness in Pets
There are many reasons for a pet to lose their vision.
Examples may include:
-birth defect -disorders causing high blood pressure
-trauma -retinal diseases
-cataracts -KCS or "dry eye syndrome"
-glaucoma -autoimmune disease
Blind pets can often still live comfortably. The following are some steps you can take to help your pet make a mental map of his or her living space.
- Attach short directional words or phrases (such as Sit, Down, Stay, and Come) to your daily routine. Verbal cues reassure your pet and help him feel connected to your daily interactions. Your voice will both guide a reassure him.
- If your pet has limited vision, be sure to leave night lights or motion sensor lighting on so your pet can navigate better in the evening.
- Create landmarks for your pet- keep daily objects such as food bowls and pet beds in the same place. In addition, avoid relocating furniture, TVs, or radios to prevent any disorientation that may result when the pet's mental map is disrupted.
- Use carpet runners to create a "road" to familiar rooms
- Use different scents to map out locations or forbidden areas. For example, you can use scented oils or plug in air fresheners to cue your pet as to what room they are in- use one consistent scent for each room. When you travel with your pet, take these scents with you to provide comfort and guidance in an otherwise unknown environment.
- If your pet is distressed at not being able to find you, wear a familiar scent or clip a small bell to your wrist or belt loop.
- Return objects to where they belong. Things that are left out are opportunities for collisions that may disorient your pet and lead to anxiety.
- If your pet is disoriented, lead him to a favorite anchoring spot such as a familiar bed, and pet him calmly until he settles down.
- Using stairs can be difficult for blind pets. Install carpeting on the steps for traction and chaperone your pet until he feels confident- use a leash or guide your pet with your hands while using treats for encouragement.
- Make sure that others around you realize that your pet is blind and may startle easily. Some people use identifiers on the leash or collar:
For dogs, one of the most important tools in dealing with blindness is the leash. Think of the leash as giving you the ability to hold your dog's hand. Your dog will feel more secure because he knows where you are. Leashing the dog can be helpful even in the house until he gets adjusted.
Feeling socially isolated is a problem with blind dogs just as it is with deaf dogs. Most dogs seem reassured if they know where their owners are. A dog that has been free to roam the house may have to be confined at night. Securing your dog next to your bed at night or using a dog crate is an ideal solution.
Several innovative companies now produce special halters for pets that include a plastic or wire loop that stretches out in front of them. These loops protect your dog from constantly bumping into things and hurting their face.