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There are many conditions that impact a pet’s vision and when a pet experiences a change in eyesight it is an adjustment for everyone. As a pet parent you may wonder, can a blind pet be happy and lead a normal life? The answer is a resounding yes! Pet’s with vision loss can lead a normal, happy life without sight.
How Does Vision Loss Impact My Dog’s Life?
While vision is an important sense for cats and dogs, going blind doesn’t impact their quality of life. Luckily, pets rely on their other senses far more than their vision. By relying on their other, stronger senses blind dogs get around very well. Learning to navigate using their two strongest senses, their sense of smell and their sensitive hearing. They do so well that it’s often said that blind dogs see with their hearts.
In fact, pets that are born blind lead a very normal life and look or act just like any other pup. Pets whose eyesight slowly degenerates over time learn to adapt and adjust easily, pet parents may not even realize that their pet is going blind. However, that’s not the case with dogs who experience a dramatic change in vision. Pets who become suddenly blind aren’t able to adapt to their change in eyesight as quickly. The signs of blindness are very noticeable and these are the pets that have the hardest time adjusting to a life without sight.
How Long Does It Takes Dogs to Adjust to Being Blind?
In most cases, a dog will adjust to being blind fairly quickly. As a rule dog’s are very adaptable and adjust quickly. A dog will usually adjust to becoming blind over a period of six to eight weeks. Sudden loss of vision is more jarring for a dog than gradual blindness and how your dog reacts can vary. Most dogs will be back to a “normal” temperament within six months of losing their eyesight.
How Does a Blind Cat Handle Vision Loss?
A blind cat will adjust well to vision loss, they will use their whiskers to avoid obstacles and stay aware of their surroundings.
Additionally, cats have glands on their cheeks, lower legs and tail that secrete pheromones. These pheromones have a unique scent that will help a blind pet to get around easily. As born hunters, cats have incredible hearing as well. Their uncanny hearing allows them to pinpoint the location of where the sound originates to within three inches. All of these abilities combined with an incredible memory helps blind pets adapt well to a life without vision.
Helping a Blind Pet Adjust: Relying On Their Other Senses
A recently blind pet may become frustrated or even depressed due to their new limitations. As a pet parent, your job is to do everything you can to help them adjust to a life without vision. The first priority is to help them navigate their home safely.
Help them “See” with a Blind Dog Halo
Bumping into walls and furniture can be dangerous, especially when a blind pet becomes disoriented and unsure of where they are.
By wearing a halo harness, the halo acts as a barrier or guard between your dog and the obstacle. The halo bumps into objects before your dog does, alerting them to the objects around them so they can safely walk around. Perfect for blind dogs and cats who are learning to map their surroundings.
The Blind Dog Halo keeps pets safe and it helps them to regain their confidence. A great way to give a blind dog their independence back as they relearn the world around them.
Be Aware of Household Sounds
A dog’s hearing becomes heightened when they are unable to see. Unexpected noises, like someone entering the room suddenly can be jarring for a blind pet. Make sure they know you’re nearby or coming near them by speaking gently. Young children may need to be taught how to play quietly near their pet and avoid sudden movements or sounds that may scare a pet. If there are other pets living in the household wearing metal tags or bells can help alert a blind animal that the other dogs are near. This allows a sightless pet to know where everyone is and may encourage them to interact, play, and follow the other dogs in your house.
Training a Blind Pet Through Touch
Along with verbal cues, communication through touch can be very important for pets with vision loss. Pets who have only recently lost their vision are more prone to sitting next to or frequently touch you while they rest. Resting a paw or head on you is your dog’s way of keeping their eye on you and also a sign of their trust that you will keep them safe while they sleep. If you’re getting up or sitting down next to your pet, gently place your hand on them and let them know what’s happening so they don’t become startled.
When training your pet, switching to touch commands may be an easier way for your pet to understand what you want them to do.
Using Scent to Guide a Blind Pet
A dog sense of smell is forty times stronger than that of a human. Their keen sense of smell can be an incredible advantage. For newly blind dogs that are still learning how to find their way around take advantage of their sense of smell. Blind pet owners will often use a strong smell, like vanilla, and place it near areas you want them to easily find such as food, water, bed, or their favorite toys. One your dog learns where everything is located, do not move it. When living with a pet with vision problems, you want to be aware of any changes you make in the house. Any big moves, including moving furniture, means your dog has to remap your home.
Quality of Life for a Blind Pet
Blind dogs and cats adapt well to a life without sight. Loss of vision and struggling to see does not negatively impact a blind pet’s quality of life. A blind pet may lose their eyesight, but they can still run, play, and enjoy their life.