Allie-examines-eyeWritten By Allie Bisson, DVM

It can be heart-wrenching news to learn that your best friend is going blind.   There are just so many questions—How will he get around?  Will he still be able to go for hikes?  Can he be off leash?  Will he constantly be running into walls and tripping on objects?  It’s hard to know what to expect.

The good news is that with love, a little encouragement, and some minor adjustment, blind pets can adapt quickly and enjoy excellent quality of life.

Cats and dogs can go blind for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes there is something wrong with the eye itself such as cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal degeneration.  Other times there are systemic diseases such as high blood pressure or brain disease that can cause blindness.

Most pets go blind slowly and have an adjustment period.  It is important to remember that pets rely on their senses of hearing and smell far more than humans do, and they don’t have to perform any visually oriented tasks such as reading or driving.  There will be some snafus while they adjust, but there are lots of things you can do to help them feel comfortable.

  1. Keep your furniture in the same place.  They will know exactly where it is and how to avoid it.
  2. Go on familiar walking routes so they have a sense of where they are and what is around them.
  3. Limit unsupervised access to hazardous areas such as stairs and pools.
  4. Keep blind cats indoors.
  5. Monitor off-leash dogs very closely to make sure they avoid cliffs, deep water, potholes, snakes, and other potentially dangerous situations.
  6. Make gentle noises when you are around your pet, so they know you are near.  You can hum, shuffle your feet or talk to your furry friend a little.  Be especially careful to give them this auditory warning when you are going to pick them up or handle them.  A startled pet may lash out in fear if they don’t know you’re coming!

Overall, a little time and encouragement will give your pet the confidence to stretch his limitations and exceed your expectations.  Eventually, your cat will jump up on tall objects and explore, your dog will play fetch, and you will entirely forget that he is blind.

Here’s a couple videos showing a blind dog and cat living life to the fullest without vision!