Happy dog on the lawn

Dogs, just like humans, can go blind for a number of reasons.  Whether it is result of old age or of an illness or disease, if your dog goes blind it will be a big lifestyle change for them.  And, just like humans who are blind need special help and care, especially at the beginning of blindness, dogs need assistance as well.  There are some tips and tricks that can make the transition to caring for your blind dog easier, and put your dog at ease, so that they feel comfortable and safe.

Tips for Caring for a Blind Dog

  • Don’t move things around frequently. If you notice your dog is going blind, or you know they have lost their vision, it is best not to move things around a lot.  Certainly move a few things that could be hazardous and perilous for your dog to navigate.  But, generally speaking, keep things where they are.  Your dog will learn where they are and how to navigate around them without vision.  Moving things around frequently can cause confusion and lead to accidents and injury.
  • Maintaining activity is important. Just because your dog is blind it doesn’t mean that they don’t need exercise or want to play.  You can still take your dog for walks on a short leash and help guide them along a path.  Be consistent with your paths and soon they will learn their path.  Additionally, your dog can still play with toys – just choose toys that make noise or have a specific scent.  Your dog will rely on his other senses to find the toy and enjoy some safe recreation.
  • Use noise for more than play. Attach a bell to other animals in the home and consider wearing one yourself when at home.  It will help your dog know where you are so that he can find you when needed and you won’t startle or frighten him.  It is an easy and inexpensive way to provide your dog with a sense of safety.
  • Cushion sharp corners to prevent injury. Just like you would baby-proof your home if you had a toddler learning to walk, get down on your dog’s level and see what could be potentially dangerous.  If there are sharp edges where your dog could stumble or bump into something, add padding or protection on the edges to reduce the risk of injury.
  • If you have stairs, install a gate at both the top and bottom. Even though your blind dog may be able to navigate the stairs, it is safer for him if you install a gate at the top and bottom so that you are aware when your dog is climbing the stairs.  A dog could become disoriented or just not properly anticipate stairs and fall down so a gate is simply an added safety measure.
  • Inform any guests that visit your home that your dog is blind. This will prevent people from trying to pet your dog before your dog has had a chance to sniff them and become familiar with them.  A frightened blind dog may bite or nip at someone if they aren’t sure of who they are so it is better to gradually introduce new guests so your blind dog feels safe.
  • Consider adding textured runners to walkways or common paths that your dog takes in your home so that they know where they are in the home.