What is Going Blind?
There are two different kinds of blindness that can occur in dogs. The first is called Unilateral blindness, which means that only one eye becomes blind. The second is called Bilateral blindness, which is where both eyes become blind. Those dogs who lose their vision slowly tend to adapt better than the dogs who lose their eyesight immediately. While blindness can sometimes be a secondary symptom to other canine diseases, it is difficult to pinpoint any exact reason for blindness. This is because there are quite a few circumstances that can cause this issue to occur.
- Normal aging
Blindness itself is not a life threatening issue. However, some of the underlying issues such as diabetes can be fatal if left untreated. It is best to visit your vet as soon as possible in order to get your dog’s failing eyesight medical care. Some symptoms of blindness are clumsiness, lethargy, confusion, disorientation, depression, anxiety, difficulty finding objects, and opacity/redness of the eyes.
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Why Going Blind Occurs in Dogs
When a dog goes blind it is a terrible event. Although partial blindness is a common occurrence and may not seem as serious, even losing just an ounce of sight can truly decrease a dog’s quality of life. There are quite a few reasons why blindness can occur: normal aging, cataracts, glaucoma, injury, and genetics.
It comes as no surprise that as a dog ages, just like with humans, parts of the body will begin to fail. Blindness caused by age is typically a slow failure of either one, or both, of the eyes. There is not much that can be done to prevent this issue, as it is a normal part of aging. However, some dogs are more prone to blindness than others, which we will discuss later.
This is one of the most common reasons for blindness. Cataracts are when a change of protein affects the lens of a dog’s eye. The lens will go from completely clear to a cloudy white color. When this occurs, the dog is able to see less and less. This is another slow moving blindness that can affect one or both of the eyes. While most dogs experience this issue in their senior years, there are some breeds that can have difficulty with cataracts at any age, such as Golden Retrievers and the American Cocker Spaniel.
When excess fluid builds up pressure within the eye, a disease called glaucoma can occur. In the worst cases, this pressure will cause immediate blindness within the affected dog. Sometimes, if it is caught early enough, surgery can treat the issue before it progresses too far; but at times, if severe glaucoma is left untreated, the eye may need to be removed. It is extremely important to have your dog receive routine checkups in order to catch glaucoma early in order to preserve the best quality of life for your dog.
If your dog experiences some kind of head trauma, such as a car accident, or gets a direct injury to the eye blindness can occur. Blunt trauma can result in eyes that bulge from the head or have detached retinas. Scratches, cuts, or punctures can also cause blindness.
Some breeds are simply more susceptible to eye problems than others. Here are a few breeds that frequently experience eye issues:
- Siberian Husky
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Shih Tzu
- Boston Terrier
- English Springer Spaniel
- Great Danes
- German Shepherds
What to do if your Dog is Going Blind
If you notice your dog showing any signs of blindness such as clumsiness, disorientation, cloudy eyes, excessive sleeping, loss of playfulness, or inability to find their food bowl, it is best to visit the veterinarian as soon as possible. In some cases, surgery may be an option to help restore your dog’s eyesight if the underlying issue is caught soon enough. Treatment of the condition will be determined based on the cause of your dog’s blindness, which the vet will determine through a thorough check up and possibly some tests.
Once it has been determined that your dog is blind and treatment has been administered for the cause, it is important to remember that your dog will now rely on you more than ever. Even though it will be distressing for you, remember that your pet is keyed into your emotions so try to be calm and strong so that your dog doesn’t think anything is amiss. Dogs actually can adapt rather quickly to a loss of vision, so instead of coddling your pet, allow him to learn how to navigate his life without sight. A few things that you can do to help your pet adjust are:
- Feed on a strict schedule and do not move the food or water bowl
- When going for a walk always try to take the same route to make things more familiar for your pet
- Introduce your pet to changes slowly and patiently
- Use different aromas throughout the house to help your dog know where it is, such as different glade plug-ins for each room
- Talk to your dog frequently to help alleviate any feelings of isolation
Prevention of Going Blind
Blindness is almost impossible to prevent. Based on your dog’s age and breed, it may be inevitable so the best thing you can do is to follow the instructions above in order to help provide your dog with good quality of life. When it comes to injuries, if your dog experiences trauma of any kind get him to the vet as soon as possible in order to receive treatment. It may not be possible to prevent the blindness, but you can get help to alleviate any discomfort your dog may be experiencing. No matter what, if you notice that your dog is experiencing symptoms of blindness, take him to the vet. There may be serious underlying issues that need to be addressed such as, diabetes, glaucoma, or serious injury.
Cost of Going Blind
Treatment cost will vary depending on the cause of your dog’s blindness. For instance, if your dog is diagnosed with cataracts, the cost of treatment can range from $300 to $3000. If your dog is diagnosed with glaucoma treatment will vary depending on the severity, with an average cost of $900.