Dogs can lose their vision for a range of reasons – genetic diseases, infections, accidents, cataracts, and other diseases. And although blindness is typically associated with older dogs, it can happen at any age. It’s always sad when a dog loses their vision, but dogs are incredibly resilient and adaptable animals and luckily have us humans to help them adapt.
However, most dogs will suffer from a period of blind dog anxiety when they first lose their vision, which can be upsetting and difficult for owners. Your support and care are essential in these early stages, as making small changes to their routine and environment help them to adapt feel comforted. Patience and time are key, as they won’t adapt immediately. But with the love, support, and guidance of their humans, they go on to be very happy, waggy dogs once again!
What To Expect When A Dog Loses His Sight
Blind dog anxiety often occurs throughout the adjustment period when your dog is learning to live with his new lack of vision and can manifest in many ways. Your pet will need your loving support and assistance at this time, and lots of extra care and attention.
When your pet first goes blind you will notice him bumping into things, or appearing disorientated as he tries to navigate his way past obstacles. Some pet parents also notice changes in their dog’s behavior – it’s not uncommon for dogs to snap or bark if they don’t see something coming. A shadow or a touch can frighten them. Imagine how scary it would be to not be able to see your surroundings – dogs feel just as anxious as we would, so it’s important to be mindful of this.
After losing his sight, your dog will develop heightened senses of sound and smell. You may also notice that your dog becomes more attached to you as they rely on you to be their guide.
How you Can Help A Blind Dog?
When your pet loses its sight, it’s easy to feel upset and helpless, but there are lots of things you can do to support them. Small changes in your home and routine can make a huge difference when it comes to minimizing anxiety and avoiding accidents.
Communication is possibly the most important aspect of helping your pet adapt after losing their sight. Your dog will rely more heavily than ever on you to reassure them, and their sense of hearing will become more profound. Voice commands are especially important in the adjustment period when anxiety may be highest, so giving your dog lots of positive rewards and commands will help them to feel safe and secure.
Remember that your dog may not see things coming, such as a hand to stroke them, or a food bowl. When approaching or petting a blind dog, talk to them gently and reassuringly to let them know you are there, as a sudden touch might frighten them.
Don’t Move Furniture
Consistency is key when it comes to ensuring your dog knows his way around his own home after going blind. Dogs are incredibly clever and will form a map of their environment in their mind, which they rely on daily. This doesn’t just include furniture, but also their water and food bowls, and bedding. Any changes to the position of these items or the layout of their home can cause confusion and anxiety. Their bed is a safe area, so make sure this is comfortable and consistent.
If you do need to rearrange your home, purchase new items, or even move home, it’s important that you help your dog adapt to this. Showing them the way by guiding them with food, or using scent trails will help to minimize confusion and anxiety.
Block Off Any Major Hazards
If you have any potentially hazardous features in your homes such as open fireplaces, ponds, pools, and even staircases, you’ll need to take this into consideration if you have a blind pet. These hazards are potentially dangerous for your pet, so it’s wise to block them off to prevent access to them. You might find it helpful to get down to your dog’s level to spot new threats.
Games, Interaction, and Exercise
When dogs lose their sight, they may need some help stimulating and building up their other senses. Games and toys such as lick mats and puzzles can help not only to keep their mind stimulated and prevent boredom but help to heighten their sense of touch and smell, which in turn will help them to navigate their surroundings. And when it comes to exercise, it’s important to take them out on familiar walks in places they know well, as they can easily become anxious in new surroundings, or even get lost and disorientated.
Over time, they will adapt well to going to new places, but keep them on a leash and guide them at first. Putting bells on their collar can help you and your pet to locate each other out and about.
Supplements and Medication
During the adjustment period when a dog first loses their sight, it’s common for them to suffer from anxiety, and there are some products on the market that can help to reduce this. Pheromone adaptors, sprays, and wipes, as well as nutraceuticals, are widely available without prescription from your vets and good pet stores and can help dogs to feel calmer. But if you think your dog needs additional or medical support for their anxiety, it’s crucial to speak to your vet first.
FAQs About Anxiety in Blind Dogs
How do you comfort a blind dog?
Comforting a blind dog is important to reassure them and reduce anxiety. Using additional voice commands, talking to them lots, and ensuring that their environment and routine is consistent can help to feel safe and comfortable.
Are blind dogs sad?
Blind dogs continue to live happy and normal lives and adapt well to losing their sight. Although they may suffer from periods of anxiety or confusion when they first go blind, simple changes to their home and routine help them to adapt and develop heightened senses of smell and sound.
Do blind dogs suffer?
Blind dogs do not suffer simply just from not having their sense of sight, as they are such adaptable and resilient animals. They develop heightened senses of smell and sound and go on to live happy lives. However, some diseases that cause blindness may be painful or uncomfortable and require a medication from the vets.