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Vision Loss in Chihuahuas

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Vision loss in Chihuahuas

My Chihuahua Kilo still sees just fine, but several years ago, I noticed my aging terri-poo Joey was having problems seeing things. The Vet said he had Glaucoma, and nothing could really be done for it.

So, we adjusted. And Joey did adjust quite well. It turns out, vision is not a dog’s dominant sense like it is for humans.

Vision loss or blindness in dogs can be a congenital condition, or it can develop during your pet’s life. Trauma or infections can be the cause of acute vision loss; on the other hand, progressive diseases such as cataracts, retinal degeneration, and glaucoma may cause chronic vision loss.

Chronic vision loss is common in old dogs; however, in some cases, it is not detected because pet parents attribute their clumsiness and disorientation to age and not to failing eyesight.

Vision loss can potentially occur in any canine, regardless of breed. However, many cases of blindness are thought to be genetic and breed or age-specific, for example, white dogs, such as white Boxers and Great Danes have a greater prevalence of blindness.

Chihuahua dogs are susceptible to blindness due to progressive retinal atrophy.

Signs Of Vision Loss

Pet parents must know the signs of vision loss so that they can provide their dogs with the necessary medical attention. Since many different eye conditions can cause vision loss, any sign of ocular disease should be taken seriously to prevent blindness. Some signs of eye disease are:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Ocular discharge
  • Color changes (e.g., cloudy or discolored eyes)
  • Eyeballs enlargement
  • Constant rubbing of the eyes
  • Squinting
  • Lethargy

Chronic blindness can be harder to detect; however, in these cases, the patients have better chances of compensating for vision loss with other senses. Some signs of progressive vision loss are:

  • General disorientation
  • Misjudging heights and bumping into walls, furniture, or other objects
  • Confusion in new surroundings
  • Reluctance to move
  • Difficulty finding food and water bowls

Causes of Vision Loss

Eye problems, such as sudden vision loss in dogs, can be attributed to many causes. Any disease that blocks light from reaching the retina or that causes significant damage to the cornea, retina, or other eye structures can cause blindness. Causes of vision loss in dogs include:

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Uveitis
  • Trauma
  • Ulcers
  • Lens luxation
  • Retinal detachment
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Brain lesions
  • Intoxications (e.g., ivermectin and lead)
  • Untreated eye infections
  • Cancer
  • Entropion (the tendency of the eyelids to roll inwards)
  • Collie eye anomaly
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Retinal pigment epithelial dystrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy is a group of degenerative illnesses that affect mostly Chihuahuas, Labradors, Poodles, and Cocker Spaniels. If your Chihuahua is losing vision, this could be the cause, and you should seek veterinary attention immediately.


Some eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cause irreversible vision loss; however, other causes, such as cataracts, lead to a reversible vision loss that can be corrected with surgery.

Prevention is very important; therefore, pet parents should not let eye infections go untreated, and a veterinarian should investigate any signs of diabetes or eye disease.

What Pet Parents Can Do To Ease The Life Of A Blind Dog

Dogs with impaired vision can learn to have a normal life. We should remember that vision is not the most developed sense in dogs; they rely on other senses like smell and hearing to accomplish their daily activities.

When a dog loses sight, especially when this occurs progressively, he/she can compensate with other senses and live a fairly normal life. Here are some things that you can do to help your blind dog:

  • Do not leave your dog unleashed in an unfamiliar place.
  • Avoid moving furniture in your house.
  • Walk your dog on a leash.
  • Announce your presence when approaching your dog by whistling or clapping your hands softly.
  • Keep food and water bowls in the same area.
  • Get your blind dog, a sighted dog companion.
  • Spend as much time as possible with your dog.
  • Consider getting a Muffin’s Halo for your dog. You can read about it and order one here. Amazon also has them and other styles here.

Signs of Worsening Vision Problems

As you can see, there are many signs of vision loss in dogs. However, as a dog owner, you may want to familiarize yourself with the signs that may point to a worsening vision problem.

Dogs won’t let their owner know that they are starting to lose their vision, which is why knowing what to look for is so important.

Can’t See Toys or Treats

Your dog’s vision problems may become progressively worse if you toss them a treat or toy, and they don’t see it.

In this case, it is important to also test their peripheral vision. To do this, toss the treat or their favorite toy to the far right and then the far left, and watch what your dog does. Do they notice?

Won’t Jump Off the Bed or Couch

If you notice that your dog is becoming more hesitant about jumping from furniture they used to jump from before or they are more hesitant to use stairs or go out at night, then their vision may be getting worse, and they may also be developing night blindness.

Night blindness is also known as senile retinal degeneration and is often age-related. With this condition, your dog has poor vision in dim light environments.

Stunned in Sunlight

If your Chihuahua dog seems a bit stunned when they are outdoors in the sunlight, it can be a sign of severe cataracts and worsening vision. The pupils will constrict in bright light settings, and the light then passes through the dense and cloudy part of a cataractous lens.

Hazards in the Home and Outside

If your Chihuahua is experiencing vision loss or other sight problems, you need to be aware of the hazards they may face in the home and outdoors.

Never let your pet run around loose outside of a fenced-in area until he knows and is familiar with his surroundings and is becoming adjusted to his sight problems. Keep them on the leash until you are sure that there are no hazards.

Make sure all the debris is picked up around the yard as well. This includes equipment, toys, and branches. These all pose tripping hazards for your Chihuahua.

The railings on your porch should also be examined. You don’t want to risk your dog falling through and off the porch.

If you have a door at ground level, utilize this for letting the dog in and out. Avoid any steps or raised decks until your dog adjusts. You can also attach a bell to the collar of your dog so it will make noise when they run.

Recovery from Vision Problems

Even if your Chihuahua loses their eyesight, their personality and acceptance of their owner will outshine. They will also be able to use their other senses incredibly well. Don’t panic as your Chihuahua learns how to get around with vision problems.

Allow them to find their own way around the home and their environment. You can lead them calmly when necessary and help them overcome obstacles that may be in their way as they learn. Many dogs are already well-trained, and the transition won’t be as difficult as you may think.

Some dogs may even recover if they have a positive prognosis from their veterinarian. Sometimes surgery and medication can help for certain conditions and can lead them straight to recovery. However, the best chance for any kind of recovery is the early detection of these vision problems.

This means that regular veterinarian visits for your Chihuahua and understanding the signs to watch for are all important for helping your dog stay strong, healthy, and happy, even in the midst of vision problems or uncertainty.

So have you had to deal with blindness with your dog? How have you dealt with it? Let us know in the comments!

female vet holding fuzzy dog

Dr. Sara Ochoa


This article has been fact-checked and approved by Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.


Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

Great information. Thank you, we have a chihuahua dealing with this challenge now. It came on fast and will post our results. Thanks, Conley


Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

You're welcome Conley. hope everything works out ok with your fur baby.


Thursday 18th of November 2021

My poor little Bailey is pretty much blind now. She’s 14 years old and had a fully developed cataract in one eye, and was overtly compensating when she walked, but she was still spunky and playful - ran to the door when the neighbour’s dog would bark. Then, what seems like overnight, the other eye developed a full cataract, and everything changed. She needs to be carried everywhere, lest she bumps into things. She whimpers all the time, and it’s really hard to get her to eat. Only eats if hand fed. I read so much about blindness in dogs, and was comforted to learn vision is not their premiere sense, but alas, she doesn’t seem to be able to compensate with her hearing. She definitely hears, but can’t tell where the sound is coming from. When I call her, she looks in every direction except where I am. She was such a happy go lucky dog up until 2 or 3 weeks ago, and now she seems so unhappy all the time. I love her so much, and I will be her eyes and transportation. I just want her to get used to this so she can get some life back.

I also have another 14 year old Lily, who is on all sorts of meds for her heart. It’s so sad to see them grow old, but I’m thankful for all the years of love we’ve shared. I’ll do anything to make the rest of their years happy and comfortable.


Thursday 18th of November 2021

Poor Bailey. She may adjust in time. I'm so glad you are so dedicated to your senior fur babies.


Wednesday 3rd of November 2021


My chihuahua is a puppy still, but every time I take him outside he shakes (even though we live in vegas), when I sit on the bed he starts making crying sounds nonstop until I put him on the bed with me. When he is on the bed he goes crazy and will play and run around and will lay on my chest, if I push him off he will run around me and then will settle between my legs. If I take him outside even during the day, he will begin shaking uncontrollably if I am even a few steps away. When I am close he will hide under a bush, or under my car, and will come back out. He sleeps most of the day. When he wants to eat even if the food is feet away he will chew on my hand and lick my mouth. When I take him outside he will usually urinate, and then eat, but he will quickly become confused and start shaking again and will stop eating and will start making crying sounds incessantly until I pick him up and let him rest on me. He will chew my hand and literally refuse to stop running around the bed until I pick him up. His eyes are slightly cross eyed and uneven. I have pictures. His history is I bought him from a homeless couple at a casino, and I’ve had him for about 10 days. I haven’t had time to take him to the vet yet.


Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

Yeah he needs to be examined by a vet soon. Some of that is puppy behavior and some is typical chihuahua behavior.

Roxann Louise Crouse

Thursday 7th of October 2021

My Chi was having problems with bumping into objects, looking anxious and finally we realized something was wrong with her vision. She has been diagnosed with SARDS. Sudden Aquired Retinol Detachment. I think it's harder on me than her. I hate seeing her run into things, fall down steps and just looks confused. I need patience, positive attitude and let her learn her way. Appreciate your comments.


Thursday 7th of October 2021

She will adjust. I'd protect her from the stairs with gates. And keep all the furniture in the same place so once she is used to where it is, she will know to avoid it. You can also get them a halo harness that will help them not to bump into things. Here's a link to one on Amazon so you can see what they are:


Saturday 6th of May 2017

It has been suggested and researched that beet pulp anything contianing beet pulp can lead to blindness in dogs. Most companies use beet as a "digestive" indgreint but it has shown to lead to blindesss on dogs. And let there be known that pet food is not regulated as much as we tend to believe that it is.

Came across this when I adopted a blind chihuahua from certain death at the shelter. So I looked up what could be The reasons that had cause the blindness.

And BEET seemed to be the major issue of blindness . There has been years research and study. After learning this I bought her wholesome food, not kibble . To my supplies the brand that the vet recommend to me was a very popular one and it contained BEET . I threw that kibble away. And now she and my other chis,eats Whole Foods, raw dehydrated dog food, and fruits and veggies for treats as well . And have a pet fountain.


Saturday 6th of May 2017

I haven't heard that before Jennifer. Thanks for letting me know about it. I'll do some research and add it to the article.