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Whether your pet was born blind or lost its vision later in life, it can still live an active lifestyle. Although a blind pet may have lost one of their senses, your pet can become more in tune with its other senses, such as hearing and sense of smell. Lean into your dog’s strengths and find new ways to keep your blind dog engaged with the world around them.
Common challenges that come with a blind dog
Your dog or cat’s loss of eyesight doesn’t have to be a major adjustment, but an awareness of the challenges that your pet might face can certainly help to make your blind pet more comfortable.
First, understand your dog’s limitations and their emotions. A pet born without sight adapts very easily, since they know no different, they learn to navigate the world around them with ease.
However, a pet that loses its sight (whether gradually or suddenly) will have a much harder time adapting. Either way, a blind pet can experience a wide range of emotions, including anxiety, fear, and depression. This is especially true if they are uncomfortable in their surroundings, unsure of where they (or you are), or unable to join in on their favorite activities.
Require more love and attention
Although caring for a blind pet may take a little extra time and attention, the payoff is worth it. Pets dealing with vision loss rely on their owners for comfort and guidance, which may take a bit of patience. However, the bond that forms between dog and owner is stronger than ever.
Be mindful that a blind dog or cat can become easily disoriented. A gentle touch or talking to them softly will help them know where you are, which can be very comforting for your pet.
Sensitive to loud noise
Because a blind pet can’t see you approach or prepare for what’s to come, they can become jumpy. Loud noises, especially, can be alarming and may cause your blind pet to jump or cry out. Many blind pets startle easily. When someone new enters your home, introduce them to your pet using vocal cues and allow your pet to sniff their hand. This gives your dog time to adjust to unfamiliar people and helps them to feel safer in their own homes.
How to train a blind dog to navigate its surroundings
As mentioned earlier, loss of vision can be disorienting for your pet and can make once-familiar surroundings seem a bit scary. For a newly blind pet, or one that’s moving into a new home – introduce your pet to the new space slowly. Make sure that the room is one where you spend a lot of time, your blind pet will want to be with you and their family as much as possible.
Take the time to map out the layout with them. Keeping them on a short leash, walking them around the space, giving them time to sniff and familiarize themselves with the room. You may have to do this more than once. Every dog will adjust differently, and some may need more time to feel comfortable moving around unsighted.
Clear out any unnecessary obstacles and avoid moving furniture, not only can this be confusing, but it can also cause your dog to trip or bump into things. Make sure your dog knows where their food and water bowls are, that they have access to their favorite toys, and can easily find their dog bed. Familiar items will help your dog be more comfortable and give them a sense of security.
How to help a blind dog maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle
Playtime is for every pup!
Don’t forget, your pet is still the same dog they always were. They still want to play and have fun! Interactive toys that are noisy or treat-filled can be great for a dog that loves to play fetch. If your blind pet can still see bright lights, a light-up toy can be really engaging.
Is your pet struggling to find their toy? Use verbal cues to guide them towards it and lots of praise! If you’re excited about the game, your dog will be too.
Get a blind dog halo
Since your pet can’t see where they’re at risk of bumping their nose, walking into walls, or even nearby furniture, a blind dog halo is a great way to prevent this from happening. The halo creates a bumper around your dog’s head, and as your dog walks around, the halo will alert them to nearby obstacles before they walk into them. Allowing them to safely redirect themselves and prevent unnecessary injury. Knowing that they can get around safely and easily is a huge confidence boost for a blind pet. Most importantly, it gives them back their independence.