Blindness in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Blindness in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Blindness in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Blindness?

Many obstacles and situations are not dangerous if your four-legged buddy can see, but become hazardous if they are blind. Blind dogs can unknowingly walk in front of a car, fall down the stairs, bang into sharp objects, and get into all kinds of situations when outside. If you think your dog is having trouble seeing, it is essential that you make an appointment with your veterinarian. Because there are so many reasons for blindness in dogs and you may not be able to tell that a loss of vision is happening, it is a good idea to visit your veterinarian at least once a year. The veterinarian will be able to tell if your dog cannot see even during a regular check-up.

Lack of ability to see can be a terrifying and even life-threatening disorder for your dog. Blindness may result as a sign of a different disorder, such as diabetes, or it could be from injury, and sometimes it is due to a hereditary disease you did not know your dog had. The truth is, it is sometimes difficult for you to tell if your dog is blind because dogs are so adept at coping. However, you may notice your pet bumping into things, becoming afraid of loud noises, and not wanting to play or go outside. This is often due to fear because your dog has no idea what is happening and it is frightening.

Despite the diagnosis, however, a blind dog's quality of life can still be happy and positive. Encouragement and reinforcement on your part during walks and while training your canine companion to adapt can have a beneficial impact on your pet's well-being.

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Blindness Average Cost

From 351 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Blindness in Dogs

Depending on the cause of the blindness, signs vary from case to case, but if you know your dog well, you should be able to tell eventually. Some of the signs your dog is having vision trouble include:

  • Bumping into things
  • Acting afraid to move
  • General clumsiness
  • Jumpiness
  • Apprehensive during play
  • Unable to find water, food, and toys
  • Confusion
  • Not wanting to go outside
  • Depression
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Anxiousness
  • Excessive thirst (diabetes and SARDS)
  • Eye redness
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Cloudiness of the eyes

 Types

Your dog may be:

  • Partially blind – Cloudy vision, may be able to see shapes and light, blindness only in one eye
  • Intermittently blind – Blindness comes and goes randomly
  • Completely blind – Unable to see anything, including light
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Causes of Blindness in Dogs

  • Glaucoma – Very painful, increased pressure of the fluids in the eye that damages the optic nerve and retina
  • Cataracts – Painless cloudiness of the eye lens that produces partial or complete blindness
  • Diabetes – One in 10 dogs is diabetic and 75% of them end up blind
  • Old age
  • Breed-specific - Certain breeds such as Spaniels, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, Shar-Peis, Poodles, Great Danes, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, Bassett Hounds, Beagles, German Shepherds, Chihuahuas, and Shih Tzus are predisposed
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - An inherited disorder that causes retinal deterioration
  • Suddenly acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) – Painless and impossible to cure with no known reasons as of yet
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Diagnosis of Blindness in Dogs

Your veterinarian will need to do a complete physical, which includes eye examination, pupil reaction time, reflexes, body temperature, blood pressure, weight, breath sounds, pulse oximetry (oxygen level), respirations, and heart rate. Tell the veterinarian what signs you have noticed and any abnormal behavior or eating patterns. Bring your pet’s medical and vaccination records if possible.

Diagnostic tests will likely need to be done to rule out underlying diseases such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease. Some of the tests needed may be blood glucose, serum chemistry analysis, complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), urinalysis, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), serum cholesterol, bilirubin, and tonometry. Other procedures usually done at this time are serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP), serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), electroretinography (ERG), ACTH stimulation test, and ocular ultrasound. You may need to take your dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist for further testing.

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Treatment of Blindness in Dogs

Treatment depends on the cause of the blindness. With some cases of blindness, such as SARDS and PRA, there is no treatment. If there is an underlying disease, such as diabetes, Cushing’s Syndrome, or hypertension, that will need to be treated first. Otherwise, the only treatment may be to train your pet to live with blindness. For example, there are points to remember as you contemplate how to care for a blind puppy. As well, an older dog who has recently experienced vision loss will require assistance and understanding as they get used to their new life. 

Use your voice often when spending time with your blind dog. They will quickly learn to use their keen sense of hearing as a replacement for sight. Keep their water bowl in the same place at all times and designate a certain spot for feeding. Provide your pup with a safe zone that allows them space for playing without the fear of banging into something. Make sure your home is dog-proofed by moving sharp tables out of the way and closing off stairways. Alert newcomers to the fact that your dog is blind so that they introduce themselves vocally before touching your dog.

These steps will ensure an easier transition into their new life. Ask your veterinarian for tips and talk to others who have dogs who have no sight. Your veterinarian will want to treat underlying diseases that caused or contributed to the blindness. These diseases may be:

Diabetes

The veterinarian will need to give your dog insulin and may have you continue giving insulin injections daily for the rest of your pet’s life. You may also need to put your dog on a special diet and exercise program.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Treatment for Cushing’s depends on the cause of the syndrome. If it is caused by a tumor of the adrenal glands, the veterinarian may be able to remove it with surgery. If the tumor has not spread, your dog might be fine afterward.

Hypertension

If your dog has hypertension (high blood pressure), medications such as angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, special diet, and exercise routine is recommended.

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Worried about the cost of Blindness treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Blindness in Dogs

Recovery also depends on the cause of the blindness. In some cases, your dog may be back to normal after a few weeks of training. A dog is able to adapt quickly by using other special senses, but call your veterinarian if you need further assistance or would like recommendations for support.

Blindness in dogs can be expensive to treat. To protect your dog and yourself in case of an accident or emergency, start searching for pet insurance today. Wag!’s pet insurance comparison tool lets you compare plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Blindness Average Cost

From 351 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

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Blindness Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Morkie

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Five Years

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15 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

15 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Cloudy Eyes, Bulgy Eyes, Bumps Into Things

My Morkie Trixie had her vision and all of a sudden in a matter of 2 maybe 3 weeks. i noticed her bumping into things and when we call her name, she looks in a complete different direction than we are. Her left eye started getting cloudy to begin with and then her right eye.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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15 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . Dogs can get glaucoma or other diseases of the eye, and without seeing her, it isn't possible for me to say what might be happening It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and help get treatment if it is appropriate.

Oct. 13, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Morkie

dog-age-icon

Five Years

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Cloudy Eyes, Bumps Into Things, Eyes Seem Buldgy

My Morkie Trixie had her vision and in a matter of 2 maybe 3 weeks she has seem to completely lost her vision and we don't understand why

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and help get treatment if it is appropriate.

Oct. 13, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

Blindness Average Cost

From 351 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

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