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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 symptom 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.

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, symptoms 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 symptoms you have noticed and any abnormal behavior or eating patterns. Bring your pet’s medical and vaccination records if possible.

Diagnostic tests will 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 most 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 is 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 vet for tips and talk to others who have dogs who have no sight. Your vet 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 shots 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 should be able to remove it with surgery. If the tumor has not spread, your dog should be fine afterward.

Hypertension

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

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Recovery of Blindness in Dogs

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

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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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shih Tzu

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Blindness And Let’S Off Little Woofs

He’s going blind, the sun his very hard on him or any bright light, now when he lays down he lets off some woods, I don’t think he is in any pain what so ever

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm not sure I understand the question, but I think that he is letting little barks out when he lays down, little woof woofs? If that's the case, he may just be using his other senses since he can't see as well to figure out what's going on around him, and if he seems to be doing well otherwise, he may be fine. If you are concerned about him, it would probably be a good idea to have him seen by your veterinarian, as they can examine him and let you know if he is okay. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 2, 2020

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King Charles Spaniel

dog-age-icon

Eleven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

Dogs eyes are fine in the morning and by evening they are very red

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If the white part of her eyes is what is becoming red throughout the day, I might worry about a blood pressure issue or an infection of some type. If it is something that happens regularly, it would be ab good idea to have her seen by your veterinarian. They will be able to examine her, see what might be going on, and discuss any treatment options with you. I hope that all goes well for her!

Aug. 2, 2020

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Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Clouding

My dog started getting red around the whites of his eyes and now his eyes are getting cloudy. I believe it may be due to hypertension? I am wondering if this means he is blind in the eye or if there is any treatment that can be done. It happened after I gave him Bravecto and I noticed that it may have possibly elevated his blood pressure.

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It appears from your picture that your dog has anterior uveitis, which can be caused by a number of different things. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as he will need treatment for this, and they will be able to examine him and see what the cause may be. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 28, 2020

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Chaweenie

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9 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Barking

My pup has one eye that is half blue half brown. She has been super barky and tends to bark at nothing. I jave noticed that she barks at me or my fiance when at a distance as though she does not know who we are. We also have 4 5 week old puppies and she barks whwn they are at a distance. My question is there a possiblity that she is partly blind and that is why she barks sometimes?

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. Without examining your dog it would be hard to say whether or not she was blind. Just because her irises are two colors that does not mean she likely has vision deficits. Your veterinarian can do multiple tests on her eyes to assess her vision. Dogs will bark when they are nervous or anxious which could be the case as well.

July 27, 2020

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Boston Terrier

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Look Blurry

I think my pup is going blind

July 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear that your pup is having problems with his or her eyes. Without examining your dog, it's very difficult for me to know what might be going on. We always take eye issues seriously, so I would recommend having your dog examined right away. I recommend calling your veterinarian and having your dog seen. They will likely want to examine the eyes and may recommend testing the pressure of the eyes and making sure there is no scratch or injury to the eye. I hope that your pup starts feeling better soon!

July 15, 2020

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Molly

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Peekapoo

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bumping Into Objects
Grey/Blue Cloudy Eyes
Flinches A Lot

Hello, my dog is 16 years old. She has a heart murmur that is negated with pills. She has no other health issues. Recently, it seems her vision is just completely gone. The vet mentioned once (a year or two ago?) it looks like she might have cataracts, but didn't think it was too serious. Is it possible for cataracts to go from impacting a dog's vision NONE to making her completely blind? I have a long hallway down my house and she runs face first into the walls at least 4 or 5 times before making it to her destination. I can barely take her outside due to her flinching everytime a car drives by. (I assume shes reacting to the sound and being newly blind has no idea how close they are to her face) Sometimes, she won't let me pet her either. She is a very cuddly dog, always has been, but now she sometimes goes through these little fits where no one can touch her, she just jumps away and squirms like crazy. (no matter how gentle we are or how much we talk to her...) Should I take her back to the vet or is it safe to assume, being as old as she is, that the cataracts just took their tole on her?

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Smokey

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bumping Into Things Inside And Out

My American Staffshire/Terrier who is around 8 years old went blind all of a sudden after seeing the vet and getting a clean bill of health. We checked for diabetes because he was drinking and peeing a lot more than usual. He had been given his shots a week earlier. He is so afraid to go outside. He bumps into things even in our apartment Water and food are in the same place. He doesn’t play anymore and sleeps a lot What should I do My vet wants to do a Cushing disease test but now after ready some of these problems it just might be because of the vaccines If it is from the vaccines, will it clear up? Thank you for your input

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Chica

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Mix, med, short hair rescue

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19 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Redness , Bulge Of Eye Ball.

My dog is 19 and has had slowly diminishing sight for years. How ever lately she has developed redness in one eye and a slight bulge in eye. She does not seem to be bothered by it. And it is her preferred side to sleep on. At this age, should I just let it be?

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Rascal

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Mini pinscher

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bangs Into Things

(Blind & deaf with no tail wagging over 1 year). History:My mini pinscher was diagnosed with pancreatitis and when vet saw him for it also said he was going blind and deaf. He wouldn’t respond to light or objects flinched near his eyes. He never wags his tail & his front teeth are ground down to gums from chewing his paws. He is 13 years old. Has some trouble getting up from bed at times but not always. He doesn’t bark its more of a loud wail cry when he wants inside after we put him outside to urinate. Trying to debate if we should try to treat the eyes to try to get some vision back or put him to sleep. Hard choice to make.

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Roux

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Maltese

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blindness

My female Maltese/Yorkie 5 yr old dog had a tooth abscess, it was treated with a round of antibiotics and it didn’t work(Clavamox), then a shot of other antibiotics and that didn’t help, she wasn’t in great shape had a fever and lethargy, put her on meds for the fever and got that normal then had the tooth removed. 3 days after her tooth was removed Roux went blind. I took her to an emergency vet that night who recommended she go back on Clavamox cause the abscess was still a little oozy and swollen. The vet that did the extraction said they don’t use the machine that potentially cause blindness(mostly in cats) and the surgery had on well. The next day I took her to UC Davis Vet Hospital, she was seen by the ophthalmologist, and dental vets, they gave little hope for her vision to return. They said she has optic neuritis and her optic nerves are very inflamed. They said the tooth that was removed looked like it was healing well. From then they suggested we get her on another meds after 3 days off from the aftercare tooth med(sorry forgot the name). It’s been 16 days, currently the abscess is completely healed, the meds she’s on is Doxycycline, Famotidine, and Prednisone. I also got her a slew of blood tests to test if it was a tick related cause or other things and they came back negative. Her pupils are completely dialated indoors, when I take her outside(only in shade or under an umbrella to protect her eyes) I can see her pupils dialate down more and that has been the only improvement with the outward appearance of her eyes. Also the opthamologist mentioned the outside of her eye is very healthy. At her last appointment(3 days ago) the vet said that she turned her head and blinked when she tested multiple times with the light near her eyes. But as far as I can tell she hasn’t regained any vision back. I got the impression from multiple vets that this situation is very peculiar and unheard of since Roux is so young. Im just holding onto hope that she regains some of her vision back. Thankfully she isn’t depressed, she can actually get playful with her sister Zurie and I take her on walks when the sun goes down, she’s really smart and can go up and down the stairs by herself. I go back to the vet in another week for a check in. 🙏🏼

Blindness Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$500

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