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How do I care for my blind dog or my blind cat?

I think my pet has gone blind.  What do I do?
If you feel your pet’s vision is decreasing, the most import thing to do is to have her examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Blindness in pets, as in people, can occur due to multiple reasons.  These include but are not limited to cataracts, retinal degeneration, insufficient tear production, tumors and trauma.  Sometimes these problems are correctable or controllable, and sometimes they are not.   You will have the greatest likelihood of successful treatment if the problem is taken care of early on in the disease process.  

Does my pet need to see a veterinary eye specialist (veterinary ophthalmologist)?
Most eye problems can be handled by your regular veterinarian.  If the problem is more difficult or persists despite treatment, your veterinarian will refer you to an eye specialist.  Specialists require that your pet see your regular veterinarian first.

How do I care for a permanently blind pet?
 Should your pet become permanently blind, she can still live a happy and rewarding life with some care and precautions on your part. Overall, indoor cats handle blindness much easier than dogs do.  Many owners whose cats have become blind don’t even realize it until the cat is examined by a veterinarian.  Both cats and dogs adapt to blindness easier when it occurs gradually over an extended period.

How do I prepare my home for my blind pet?
Cats and dogs learn the layout of their home, so they can navigate around very well unless that environment changes.  Because of this, it is important to keep furniture in the same spots at all times.  Also, don’t leave potential hazards in a room which the pet may run into or trip over.  Examples include the vacuum cleaner, low open drawers, shoes, and children’s toys. Of primary importance is safety.  Prevent access to areas where your pet may become injured, such as stairwells and swimming pools.  Most cats handle the stairwells okay, but dogs normally need to be blocked from access.  Keep closet doors closed, so your pet doesn’t wander in and get trapped inside. Always place your pet’s food and water down in the same place at the same time each day.  The kitty’s litter box should also not be moved from where he is used to it being.

How do I prepare my new home for my blind pet?
Should you have to move to a new home with a blind pet she will, of course, have to relearn the “lay of the land”.  Walk her around the new home on a leash or harness.  Walk her over to the food, water, and litter box.  Refrain from carrying them to these areas, as they need to learn how to get there themselves.  Limit access to just one or two rooms initially, and then expand her territory gradually.

Can I let my blind dog or cat go outside?
Blind cats should only be let outside with strict supervision and on a leash.  It’s best to keep them indoors.
Your dog will also be safer if always on a leash outside.  If you are letting your dog outside off of a leash into an enclosed yard, always be present to supervise.  Beware of dangers in the yard such as holes, rocks and sticks.  Never have any dog, but especially a blind dog, off of a leash in an area that is not enclosed.  Should a stray dog suddenly appear and attack your dog, you will have no way of protecting your pet, and your pet will be at a great disadvantage.

My dog loves walks.  Can I still take him on walks now that he is blind?
Going for walks can still be enjoyable for many blind dogs.  Maintain a consistent route.  Ask other dog owners to keep their dogs from approaching.  And warn children that because your dog is blind, they may scare him if they approach him when he is on his walk.  And, of course, as with any dog on a walk outside, always keep him on a short leash.

Virginia Beach Veterinarian | Birdneck Animal Hospital
508 North Birdneck Rd Suite C
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Phone: (757) 355-5694