Changes in a dog’s eyesight is common in aging dogs, but it can be difficult as a pet parent to know how to help your blind dog. Here are a few things that every pet parent needs to know about their dog’s changing eyesight.
Dogs Won’t Let You Know When They Start to Go Blind
For the most part, vision loss in dogs occurs slowly over time. Unlike humans, your dog’s vision is not their strongest sense. Most dogs rely strongly on their sense of smell and hearing, which means pet parents may not realize their dog is going blind until 80% of their vision is gone! Small behavioral changes such as anxiety, lethargy, and depression are often the first sign of vision loss, but these are often attributed to other conditions first.
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Dog Vision Loss
There are a few very noticeable signs of blindness in dogs. For example, canine eye conditions such as cataract dramatically change the appearance of your dog’s eye, a cloudy lens is easy to notice, but some changes in a dog’s vision are harder for pet parents to spot. Although common, not every blind dog will bump into walls or furniture, especially if their vision loss was gradual. Signs of vision problems in dogs can come on slowly or make such a subtle change in your dog’s behavior that it goes unnoticed.
Here are a few signs of vision loss in dogs that you may not be aware of:
- Signs of fear in new spaces or anxiety when your dog’s routine is changed
- Sudden reluctance to use the stairs
- Dog paws at their face and eyes
- Dog is startled easily or appears disoriented at night
- Sleeping more often or shows noticeable changes in their sleep pattern
- A dog with changing vision will stop making eye contact with owner
- Dog struggles to find their toys when playing
- A blind pet may become more clingy or attached to their owner
- Unexplained agression
Changes in a dog’s depth perception are also common with older dogs dealing with vision loss. This can become apparent when a dog transitions from walking on the sidewalk to the road or when a dog is going down the stairs.
Change in Lighting May Impact Your Dog’s Eyesight
Dogs with cataracts have difficulty seeing in bright light. The reason for this is because the sunlight causes their pupils to get smaller forcing all the light to pass through the cloudiest part of their cataract making it even harder for them to see. Most of the time dogs with cataracts can see, their cataract typically only covers 15% of their eye, but even dogs with more advanced cataracts typically can sense the light and dark.
Sudden brightness isn’t the only lighting condition that can impact a dog’s eyesight. Many dog’s with vision problems will also struggle to see in dim lighting. There are varying degrees of canine blindness, dogs that can still differentiate light and shadow will have a harder time navigating their home when there is low lighting. When it’s darker, a blind dog may struggle to clearly identify nearby objects, which may make them less likely to move around, sleep more often, or become startled more easily.