Skip to Content

Vision Loss in Chihuahuas

Share this post!

I Love My Chi may earn a small commission for purchases made after clicking links on this page.  Learn More

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 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.

Treatments

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 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 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.

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 becoming 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 yards 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!

Mouse the Chi
Previous
Mouse the Chi
Chihuahua Meets Her Baby Brothers for the First Time
Next
Chihuahua Meets Her Baby Brothers for the First Time

Jennifer

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.

kilosmom

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.

Sheila

Monday 20th of March 2017

I have 6 rescue Chihuahua's 1 is 5 yrs. 4 are 8 yrs. and 1 is 10 yrs. So far everyone is very healthy. Thanks for the heads up on the vision issues. So far no problems.

kilosmom

Monday 20th of March 2017

You're welcome Sheila and God bless you for giving a home to all those little fur butts.

Kimberly

Friday 17th of March 2017

My 14 year old chihuahua, little miss Texas, has one bad eye that I believe she is blind in from glaucoma. This afternoon when we got home we noticed she was holding her eyes shut and kept scratching at the good one. I'm hoping she scratched it or got something in it and will be fine. I'm worried about if she does go blind in both eyes how she'll do being at home during the day. Parents say if she goes blind the humane thing would be to put her down, I just don't know

kilosmom

Friday 17th of March 2017

I wouldn't put her down if blindness is her only issue. Many blind dogs do fine after a period of adjustment. I would get her checked as soon as you can for her good eye. If it's infected, they can give her antibiotics to save it.

Gloria

Thursday 5th of January 2017

My Chi is now 8 years old and just this past week it seems like she went from seeing fine to bumping into things. She did start with an extreme increase in appetite that she looked bloated, we took her to the vet and they told us to lower her eating servings by 2 and to 1/2 cup based on her weight. We have been doing that for about a month now, but just yesterday we noticed the bumping into things and she isn't as playful and happy. We try to play with her and she just wants to go to bed. She has a doctors appointment today, so we will see. It breaks my heart to see her so sad! Also, she did spit saliva yesterday on me twice, it was as though she didn't even feel it coming out, there was no movement what so ever. Has anyone experience this? Help!

kilosmom

Thursday 5th of January 2017

It definitely sounds like something's wrong but I don't know what it could be. Let us know what the vet says.

Adele

Friday 9th of December 2016

My little Gizmo? Is 13 years old. She is both blind and deaf, and extremely anxious all the time. She does not like to be picked up and held. I only comfort her briefly before she starts to cry and wants to be let go. It seems her only happiness is her food and bed, and once in awhile a short walk (on a leash with me) in the sun. She panics whenever I get her in the car to go anywhere. I have to medicate her with pretty sedating. medication for longer trips. Breaks my heart. She seems miserable most of the time. Other than that she is in perfect health. I don't know what to do to help her relax.

kilosmom

Saturday 10th of December 2016

I know you said she doesn't like to be picked up but does she like to be petted or touched at all? I learned some simple pet massage strokes that helps calm them down when they are anxious.