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How to Care for a Blind Dog: 6 Vet-Approved Steps

Written by: Keri-Beth Clur

Last Updated on April 7, 2024 by Dogster Team

old blind dog with cataract lying at home

How to Care for a Blind Dog: 6 Vet-Approved Steps

VET APPROVED

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are many dogs in animal shelters that are looking for a good home. Most people fall in love with the puppies first, but rarely are older dogs or ones with disabilities considered. Disabled dogs are just as loving and deserving as any other dog. However, it is important to know that a dog with a disability, such as blindness, does require a bit more care. Thankfully, you don’t have to go on this journey alone, as we’ve got some tips for you on how to care for a blind dog and keep them safe.

Signs of Blindness

Sadly, blindness can occur for many reasons. In some cases, it is sudden, and in others it is gradual. It can be caused by cataracts, glaucoma, uveitis, retinal disease, brain disease, diabetes, injury, and tumors. Some breeds are more prone to developing certain conditions that can lead to blindness, for example Collie eye anomaly is an inherited condition that can affect Collie breeds.1 It can be hard to come to terms with your dog going blind, but it’s important to be aware of the signs so that you can care for them best and make the necessary changes to your home to keep them safe. Your vet may perform a variety of tests to determine the cause of the vision loss, they will be able to guide you on treatment options and the prognosis for your dog but in most cases blindness is permanent.

Signs of blindness include:

  • Changes to the eye e.g. cloudiness
  • Walking slowly
  • Increased anxiety
  • Bumping into objects
  • Being easily startled
  • Not responding to movement
  • Confusion
  • Not being able to find things when moved from their usual spot
  • Becoming more vocal
old blind dog
Image Credit: rainyiris, Shutterstock

The 6 Steps to Caring for a Blind Dog

1. Set Up a Safe Space for Them

A blind dog can feel overwhelmed in a new, unfamiliar environment. When bringing them home from the shelter, keep them in a small, safe area. As they start to gain confidence and explore more of your home, they can go back to their safe space to sleep or recoup. You can help your dog navigate your home by using sounds and textures. You can place bells on the collars of your other pets so that your dog knows where the other members of their family are. You can also place wind chimes near the doors and a soft playing sound machine near their bed. If your home is tiled, you can place rugs at the entrance to the bedrooms and leave the kitchen floor bare so that they’re able to tell which rooms they’re going into. You can also use stair gates and place a rubber strip at the top and bottom of the stairs so that your dog is aware of what is in front of them. Keep the floor clear and free of trip hazards like wires.


2. Don’t Move Things Around

Your dog will gain confidence around your home once they’re able to memorize where everything is. You’ll soon notice that they no longer bump into furniture and other stationary objects. However, if you rearrange your furniture, they’ll have to start all over again because the layout of the home has changed. When living with a blind dog, avoid moving furniture around and leaving shoes and bags on the floor, as this will disorientate your dog.

blind dog lying on its bed
Image Credit: Shchus, Shutterstock

3. Train Your Dog

Just because your dog can’t see doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from training. They can still learn basic commands and will use their other senses to do so. Training is important to keep your dog safe. Teaching them verbal commands such as “stop” when they’re about to walk into something or “step” when they’re approaching the stairs will prevent them from injury, especially in an unfamiliar environment. If you’re wondering how to train a blind dog, the answer is simple. Train them the same way you would a sighted dog, except leave out hand signals. You can train your dog with a clicker, verbal commands, positive reinforcement, treats, consistency, and patience like you would with a sighted dog.


4. Create Consistency

Dogs thrive on consistency, especially those who can’t see what’s happening around them. Blind dogs can become very anxious, but creating a routine will help them know what to expect and reduce their stress. Feed your dog at the same time every day and feed them in the same spot. Taking your dog for a walk at the same time each day will also do them wonders.

blind dog on leash at the park
Image Credit: Printezis, Shutterstock

5. Keep Them Stimulated

Talking to your dog throughout the day will stimulate them mentally and bring them comfort. You can also hide treats around your home for your dog to sniff out. Taking them on walks or for a drive in your car will also stimulate them because they will smell different scents and hear different noises. Toys with different textures and sounds will also entertain your dog and make them easy to find. Physical exercise is just as important for a blind dog as any other dog. You can take your dog for safe walks by following the same route each time, being aware of other dogs, and giving verbal cues for steps and other obstacles.


6. Supervise Interactions

Let people and other dog owners know your pet is blind by using a labeled harness or lead. A blind dog cannot see the body language of another dog, which means you need to watch interactions between dogs and other pets closely and remove your dog from the situation if you see any concerning signs. Equally, suddenly being petted by a stranger on a walk can startle blind dogs and be very stressful for them. Once you have introduced your blind dog to the rest of your dogs and they develop their own bond, you might be surprised at what you see. Often, sighted dogs will become a guide for blind dogs, helping them navigate the world around them.

owner sitting on couch with blind dog on the floor
Image Credit: victoras, Shutterstock

Conclusion

Caring for a blind dog has its challenges, but by implementing the tips above, you’re bound to have success and give your dog a home in which they can thrive. When bringing a blind dog into your home for the first time, set up a small, safe space for them. Try your best to keep furniture and other big items in the same positions so that your dog can memorize the layout of your home. Train your dog the same way you would your other dogs but without hand signals. Create a daily routine for your dog to lower their anxiety and stimulate their senses with different sounds, smells, exercise, and interactions.


Featured Image Credit: selvaco, Shutterstock

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