Blindness does not mean that life is no longer enjoyable. A blind dog/cat does not need to be “saved”. They are not in agony, they have just been deprived of one of their senses. That’s bad enough, but the remaining senses are trained all the more. The otherwise healthy and pain-free animal will automatically rely more heavily on its senses of hearing and touch, and of course smell, to find its way around. Over time, an “inner plan” of the home and the environment develops, which your dog or cat will surely follow. Compared to strangers, the impression often arises that the animal can see very well.
How does blindness come about?
There are many ways to lose your sight. On the one hand, there are diseases such as infections or inflammations that result in blindness. Here, for example, there is inflammation of the iris, which can lead to a retinal detachment. Or hypertension (glaucoma) develops. The increased pressure causes the retina to degenerate and become inoperable. It is often a number of pathological changes in the eye that ultimately lead to blindness. Infections with viruses or fungi can also trigger this and become difficult or impossible to control, resulting in blindness.
On the other hand, animals also lose their eyesight through injuries. Objects piercing through the cornea, such as thorns, metal splinters, but also cat claws are a common cause here. A “blunt trauma”, i.e. the dull hit of an unfortunate thrown branch or the bumper in a car accident, for example, often causes severe inflammation, which in the worst case can also cost your eyesight.
In addition, hereditary diseases (progressive retinal atrophy, PRA) should be mentioned, which are relatively common. Cataracts are probably the most common cause of blindness, but can usually be corrected by surgery.
A rather rare disease, SARD (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration) is a cause of blindness, the cause of which has not yet been researched. The dogs usually become sightless within a short time, sometimes even overnight.
Metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus in dogs or cats or blindness that originate in the central nervous system (brain) – i.e. have nothing to do with the eyes – are only mentioned in passing here.
How do I deal with my blind animal?
Try to make his life easier. Think your way into his changed world.
Don’t rearrange furniture.
Always place chairs under the table.
Think carefully about a new garden planting.
Pond and pool can become life-threatening traps.
Eating and drinking bowls, as well as the sleeping place, should always remain in the same place. They are important landmarks that often allow your animal to find a new orientation in the event of sudden confusion.
Climbing stairs can also be learned again, but it usually takes a little longer. Initially secure the stairs before falls occur.
Outside, a leash means safe guidance. But it is also possible to lead some dogs with an “acoustic leash”. A noise that is always the same, made with the mouth or by a bunch of keys in the trouser pocket, often shows the way to the blind dog running loose.
The second, perhaps younger, dog that is purchased is often an ideal guide dog.
Even blind dogs can play; a ball with a bell is a good option.
Finally, it should be noted that – as with us humans – each individual develops its own way of dealing with changed circumstances. One learns quickly, the other is forgetful. The latter immediately accepts the new situation, the former is completely thrown off track. The ability to learn and adapt varies greatly. It is always important for your animal that there is a fixed point of reference, and that is… above all you.