Has your aging dog seemed less playful? Does he or she startle more easily than normal? Are your dog’s eyes cloudy? These are common signs of vision loss.
In some cases, early intervention can slow or repair eye conditions through medical treatment or surgery. In other cases, vision loss is an inevitable fact of aging.
“Whether or not your dog’s vision can be improved, his or her environment can be made into a safe, comfortable zone that is still filled with happiness and a high quality of life,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. Her team regularly provides home hospice care for geriatric pets experiencing vision loss.
Cataracts – The most common cause of cataracts in dogs is inherited disease, followed by diabetes and injuries to the eye. Surgery may be an option.
KCS – Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry Eye) – is a common condition that can lead to painful ulcerations and eye loss. Signs include excess tearing and discharge. Early intervention can save the eyes and prevent further vision loss.
SARDS (Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) – is a condition that causes rapid and irreversible blindness due to changes within the retina. Signs include increased separation anxiety, reluctance to go up or down stairs, disorientation, and dilated pupils. This painless condition is typically irreversible but can be managed in the home.
Nuclear Sclerosis – Nuclear (Lenticular) sclerosis is an age-related change, where the older, inner layers of the nucleus of the lens become compressed and accumulate in the nucleus causing it to become dense and cloudy in appearance. This is a degenerative disease.
Tips To Help Dogs Experiencing Vision Loss
You can make your home a safe haven for your pet by keeping a consistent routine, minimizing changes in the home, and mapping out “routes” through the use of textured runners, safety gates and night lights. In addition, you can maintain an excellent quality of life using scent and sound cues for play, feeding, and enrichment:
- Sound Cues – Use an elevated, trickling fountain water bowl, squeak toys for playing, and vocalize your actions to help your pet feel comfortable and connected.
- Scent Cues – Use scent for games of fetch or find, or to help your pup identify areas of activity.
“Blindness can be more traumatic for the owner than the dog. With environmental improvements and engagement using other senses, your senior dog can continue to enjoy their sunset years,” Dr. Brush said.