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How to Care for Your Blind Dog
Shadow is Blind
Born Blind or Sudden Blindness
If your dog was born blind he/she is used to navigating and living without sight. But if your dog suddenly becomes blind because of old age, cataracts, or physical injury he/she will have to figure out how to get around the usual territory from memory.
You need to find ways to make it easier for your blind dog to live. Simple things like going to bed in the garage, or going outside to the lawn to urinate is now a challenge to a newly blind dog. He/she will need to rely on other senses, such as their sense of smell, to locate food or water.
As the dog's owner, you need to find ways to help your blind dog get from point A to point B without getting hurt. You do not want your dog to sprain an ankle trying to navigate through the backyard!
CARING FOR YOUR BLIND DOG
Shadow is an 11 year-old male Chiweenie we adopted 2 years ago. He's had cataracts covering both of his lenses since before we knew him.
Some of our friends told us that he was going blind, but we didn't believe them because he did not seem to have a problem with his vision. He jumped into chairs, jumped on the brick wall and jumped off, too.
I searched for articles online to find out more about cataracts and how they lead to canine blindness. I also found that blindness is fairly common in dogs of old age.
ACCIDENT IN THE BACKYARD
One morning I went out to the backyard to visit Shadow, and I noticed his left eye was bright red and there was discharge leaking from it. It looked like Shadow ran into something that pierced his left eye.
To make a long story short, we took Shadow to the vet. The vet sad it looked like he stuck his eye with something sharp; that was when I noticed there was a large chunk of his pupil missing.
We have Bougainvilleas in our backyard and these plants are loaded with nasty thorns. I hope he did not poke his eye on one of the thorns! Whatever it was, it ruined Shadow’s eye.
ANTIBIOTIC DROPS TWICE A DAY
Shadow had to use antibiotic drops in both eyes because the infection spread to the other eye, as well. We had to get 3 refills of the prescription drops before the infections cleared up.
The vet wanted to remove his eye, but when we told her his age (11 years old) she said she would leave him alone; she said he did not need this kind of trauma at his age.
The antibiotic drops healed his infections, but his left eye is still red.
GOING BLIND FAST
It was not long before Shadow’s vision worsened. He was bumping into everything: walls, exercise equipment, trees, plants, and so on.
It seemed like his poor nose was made of rubber, the way he bounced off everything.
Before the accident, Shadow’s cataracts never seemed to bother him. No matter what he did, he never gave us the impression that his sight was poor or that his cataracts obscured his vision. The cataracts would have allowed Shadow to go blind gradually, but because of his eye accident his blindness was suddenly met.
We had never experienced a blind person or pet before, so we really had to put ourselves in Shadow’s shoes to understand how we could help him.
Shadow now has to use his nose to find everything, including his bed. At first we had to help him find his food dish. It seemed that his senses were not as fine-tuned as we thought.
Shadow is newly blind; his senses will improve with time. For now he is adapting to blindness very well, but he sleeps or seems bored most of the time – unless we are petting or talking to him. He is also getting old, so maybe this is normal behavior for a Chiweenie of his age.
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Ways To Help Your Blind Dog
There are many ways you can help your blind dog move from place to place safely.
Blind dogs learn to memorize the location of rooms by making mental maps of where things are inside and outside of the house.
Here are some tips to help your blind dog get around the house safely (Click to Tweet):
- Keep furniture and other large items in the same place all the time.
- Keep your dog’s food and water dish in the same place.
- Keep a clear path for him/her to walk through.
- Offer him/her toys with sound or scented toys to stimulate other senses
- Be upbeat and positive when you talk to your pet. Tell him/her when you are entering or leaving the room; your voice is reassuring to your dog.
- Block off dangerous areas or rooms, such as the balcony, the swimming pool, the stairs, and so on.
- Make sure any dangerous products, tools, foods, or other items are put out of your blind dog’s reach or path (Source: http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/senior-dog/Preparing-a-Dog-that-is-Going-Blind-or-Deaf).
- Use a short leash when you take him/her for a walk.
- Use a harness instead of a collar when walking your dog. When collars are pulled on, theycause choking; choking causes pressure on the eyes which can contribute to Glaucoma.
- Treat your blind dog the same as usual. Keep the daily routine the same, for instance, keep taking your dog for walks -- just use a short leash and be extra watchful.
- Do not do everything for your blind dog; help your dog help him/herself.
- Pad or cushion sharp corners on all furniture at your dog's eye level throughout the house or yard. Coffee tables, doors, cabinet doors, tables -- anything that is in your pet's daily path that he/she could run into and get hurt (Source: http://www.pawnation.com/2012/05/03/12-easy-tips-for-living-with-a-blind-dog/)
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© 2014 Miriam Parker