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International Blind Dog Day 2024: What It Is & When It’s Celebrated

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 6, 2024 by Dogster Team

close up of blind dog

International Blind Dog Day 2024: What It Is & When It’s Celebrated

International Blind Dog Day is an event that happens every year on the 23rd of August. It seeks to assemble the owners of blind and partially sighted dogs in celebration of their visually impaired furry companions.

The event is open to dog lovers globally and aims to raise awareness about the amazing abilities of these widely misunderstood pets.

Like humans, some dogs are born blind, while others lose their vision in one or both eyes because of age, trauma, or diseases. Fortunately, they quickly adjust to their new reality and can live long, happy lives without losing most of their independence.

Read on to learn what International Blind Dog Day is all about. We will discuss why the day is important, how you can join the celebrations, and what you can do to keep your blind dog safe and healthy.

Let’s get started!

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The History Behind International Blind Dog Day

International Blind Dog Day is an annual event that first occurred on the 23rd of August 2017. This was exactly nine years after the first-ever cornea implant on a dog was accomplished. It was created by Sarah Horne, from Brampton, who is the proud owner of a blind 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Shammy.

In her own words, she said that Shammy is her world!

The core aim of International Blind Dog Day is to bring the parents of blind and partially blind dogs together to celebrate what their uniquely abled furry friends can do. It also aims to sensitize people about canine visual impairment and its causes. Dog lovers worldwide also congregate to educate each other on the best strategies for caring for a blind canine.

Most importantly, the event encourages people not to shortchange visually disabled dogs when choosing a furry companion to adopt. While they may need more care at first, they adapt quickly and can live long, happy, and healthy lives without being a “burden.”

portrait of a pug dog with a blind eye
Image Credit: Yekatseryna Netuk, Shutterstock

Ways to Celebrate International Blind Dog Day

If you have a blind or partially blind dog in your household, there are numerous ways you can celebrate International Blind Dog Day. Depending on your budget and schedule, you could buy your pet a new toy or spoil it with treats, praise, and cuddles. Better still, you could go on an outdoor adventure, take pictures, and share them on social media under the hashtag #InternationalBlindDogDay.

If you don’t have a visually impaired animal in your household, here are a few superb ways to join the celebrations.

Adopt a Visually Impaired Dog

One of the best ways to celebrate International Blind Dog Day is to open your home to a blind dog. Begin by doing your research to understand the responsibilities of owning a visually impaired pet. If you are up to the task, visit a local animal shelter or rescue center and begin the process of giving a blind dog its forever home.

old age blind pekinese dog with cataract on both eyes resting on floor
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Adopting a blind dog is not for everyone, and that’s understandable. If you cannot or do not want to adopt a visually impaired canine, there are other ways to participate in International Blind Dog Day.

First, you could consider donating money to foundations that support blind dogs, like Blind Dog Rescue Alliance (BDRA). You can also volunteer at the foundations and spend the day catering to the needs of visually impaired canines.

Join the Campaigns on Social Media

Another excellent way to participate in International Blind Dog Day celebrations is to join efforts with other parents of blind dogs. Share information about the abilities of blind canines and their care needs under the hashtag “#InternationalBlindDogDay.” Also, ask your friends and followers to consider adopting a blind dog and giving them the care and love they deserves.

If you have a blind dog, don’t forget to share your story and experience under the same hashtag. Let people know the rewards and challenges of raising a visually impaired canine. Most importantly, make the day extra special for your furry friend and post your pictures on all social media platforms.

old blind poodle dog focused on his face
Image Credit: rainyiris, Shutterstock

Invest in Your Dog’s Eye Health

There are numerous potential causes of vision loss in dogs. While some can be avoided to save your pet from becoming blind, others, like age and your dog breed’s predisposition to vision problems, are inevitable.

Some common causes of eye discomfort or visual impairment include the following:
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Suddenly Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDS)
  • Cataracts
  • Extreme trauma to the head
  • Brain tumors
  • Old age

If you already have a dog with good vision and don’t wish to adopt another one, you can celebrate International Blind Dog Day by investing in your pet’s eye health. Visit your vet or a veterinary ophthalmologist for an eyesight check up. Also, seek personalized guidance on protecting your pet’s vision.

Tips to Keep a Blind Dog Happy and Healthy

Dogs have a predatory heritage that gives them extraordinary auditory and olfactory senses. They hear almost twice as many frequencies as humans and can catch sounds as far as 80 feet away with remarkable clarity. Also, their brains devote a lot of power to interpreting smells, thanks to their over 100 million sensory receptors in the nasal cavity.

In short, blindness is not as devastating as it may sound to dogs. Still, there is plenty you can do to make your visually impaired pet’s life easier. Here are six things to do:

1. Make Your Environment as Predictable as Possible

Blind dogs thrive on being familiar with their environment. Once your pet has mastered your home’s floor plan, it would be helpful not to change it. This will ensure they can move around safely by depending on its memory of areas with potential hazards.

Most importantly, puppy-proof all accessible areas and use baby gates or barriers to keep dangerous spots out of bounds. You’ll also need to up your tidiness game to keep spaces frequented by your pet free of trip hazards like bags, shoes, toys, etc.

Additionally, ensure your pet knows where to find the food and water bowls and don’t keep moving them to different locations. You can also make your life and that of your pet much easier by creating a feeding, playing, and pottying routine. Get into a schedule that works for both of you and stick to it.

small red-haired old blind dog
Image Credit: Shchus, Shutterstock

2. Take Advantage of Your Pet’s Other Senses

A visually impaired dog still has other senses that allow them to lead a reasonably independent life. Arguably, they will even have better hearing, cognitive and olfactory abilities to compensate for its vision loss. Taking advantage of these senses is necessary to make life a tad easier.

For instance, use bells and scents to mark important spots around the house. You can keep your TV on for your dog to use as a reference point when accessing the living room. It would also be nice to wear a small bell around your neck or wrist so they can locate you with ease whenever they need a round of petting.

Scents also work beautifully to help blind dogs know how to maneuver around the home. For example, you can smear a few drops of lavender oil on toys so your pet can easily find them. Also, pour a few drops on your front door, so they can locate the house whenever they goes outside.

3. Always Use Verbal Cues

Communicating using verbal cues is the most effective way to let your pet know what you expect of it. During walks, use cues like” turn left, right, and stop” to make navigating new trails easier. With time, they will be familiar with unique commands that may not apply to dogs with vision.

Communicating with your visually impaired dog will ensure nothing gets them by surprise. Remember that constantly bumping into things or getting hurt can quickly trigger anxiety.

blind dog
Image Credit: Stocked House Studio, Shutterstock

4. Protect Your Blind Dog From Potential Dangers

There are certain risks exclusive to dogs with visual impairment. For instance, they could bump into walls, objects, and other hard surfaces when walking outdoors or along unfamiliar routes. It is, therefore, essential to use a blind dog harness that will also notify other people, including drivers, that your pet is visually impaired.

Blind dogs are capable of socializing and building friendships with other pets. The lucky ones even have their own guide dog leading them around obstacles. Still, it is crucial to supervise interactions, especially if you are unsure of the temperament of a new pet. Your dog could be in harm’s way, especially when they fail to see and interpret crucial body language signals.

5. Provide Plenty of Enrichment Opportunities

There are plenty of games that are safe and fun for blind dogs. For instance, you can play fetch using scented toys within a familiar environment. Your furry friend will also have a blast playing tug of war or hide and seek.

During playtime, occasionally mix things up to offer much-needed mental stimulation. For instance, use treats to encourage your dog to seek its favorite toy from an area they can access but a spot that’s harder to find.

Again, use scents and sounds to make winning games possible for your visually impaired-furry friend. It is also vital to offer treats, petting, and praise whenever they win a game or master a new concept during training.

blind dog playing fetch with a ball in the yard
Image Credit: Stratisnik, Shutterstock

6. Be Patient

It’s easy to misunderstand a blind dog and assume they are stubborn, clumsy, or not as smart as you thought. The truth is that losing vision comes with unique challenges, and it may take a while for your pet to adapt to its new normal. In the meantime, be patient and put in the needed work to ensure your furry friend is as happy, healthy, and comfortable as possible.

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Final Thoughts

It is naïve to think blind dogs are depressed, dull, struggling, or afraid. Contrary to popular belief, they are just as cuddly and bubbly as other dogs. They love life and have no problem training, learning new tricks, and even going on adventures like hikes. Vision is not a primary sense in dogs, and blind canines can even participate in agility training!

International Blind Dog Day, which happens every year on the 23rd of August, is a special day when we appreciate all the things visually impaired dogs can do. If you are considering adopting a pet, it is worth not to shortchange a blind dog that needs a forever home.

Generally, blind dogs see with their hearts, and their intuition makes up for their lack of sight!

Featured Image Credit: Lutsiv Maxim, Shutterstock

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