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
It is important that pet parents know the signs of vision loss so that they can provide their dogs the necessary medical attention. Since vision loss can be caused by many different eye conditions, any sign of ocular disease should be taken seriously in order 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
Chronic blindness can be harder to detect, however, in these cases the patients have better chances of compensating 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:
- Lens luxation
- Retinal detachment
- Retinal degeneration
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Diabetes mellitus
- Brain lesions
- Intoxications (e.g. ivermectin and lead)
- Untreated eye infections
- 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 loosing 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 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 live. 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 looses sight, especially when this occurs progressively, he/she can compensate with other senses and live a fairly normal live. 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 to your dog 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 here.
So have you had to deal with blindness with your dog? How have you dealt with it? Let us know in the comments!