Just as people can lose their eyesight as they age, so can dogs. If you have an older dog, it's important to be aware of the signs of vision loss and know how to deal with this issue.
What are the signs of vision loss in dogs?
As dogs begin losing their vision, they also become more clumsy. They might bump into walls and furniture, sometimes jumping to the side and acting surprised when they do. Your dog may struggled to find his toys or food bowls, and he may seem confused until you set these things directly in front of him. You may also notice that his eyes begin to appear cloudy or whitish.
What causes vision loss in dogs?
There are many possible causes of vision loss in dogs. Since most of them are age-related, this is why vision loss becomes more likely as your dog ages.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure inside the eye climbs to unhealthy levels, leading to progressive vision loss. Dogs with glaucoma also often experience headaches, so they may appear irritable or lethargic often.
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. They can appear suddenly or develop slowly over time. The cloudiness will be obvious when you look at the dog's eyes.
Progressive retinal atrophy is a heritable condition that causes the retina of the eye to slowly deteriorate, leading to blindness. It affects both eyes and is most common on collies, poodles, and cocker spaniels.
What should you do if you think your dog is losing his vision?
Contact a vet like those at Acequia Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment. He or she will examine your dog's eyes and determine the most likely cause of the vision loss. Then, your vet will recommend treatment based on the cause.
Cataracts are usually left alone; you'll need to make changes to your dog's environment, such as keeping everything downstairs, to make it easier for him to navigate the world with vision loss. Cataracts can be removed surgically, but many owners opt against this treatment since it is expensive and since the cataracts don't cause any overt pain.
Glaucoma can be managed with medications that lower the eye pressure. These can prevent the vision from getting worse, but it won't recover vision that your dog has already lost.
Progressive retinal atrophy is a disease with no cure. Dogs with this disease eventually become completely blind. You can keep your dog safe and comfortable by staying close to him, putting baby gates across stairways, and removing any obstacles, like furniture, that get in your dog's way.