If your pet has been diagnosed as visually impaired or blind, although there may be a period of adjustment, they usually cope very well and will continue to enjoy life as long as they are not in discomfort.
There are some things you can do to try and make their life easier.
- Establish a routine. Dogs and cats love routines and it allows them to learn when and where things happen. Have familiar walks for the dog so they can learn where obstacles are.
- Teach them commands such as “Wait” or “Steady” so they will stop or slow down so you can prevent them getting into danger or bumping into things. You can use “up” and “down” for pavements.
- Talk to them more for reassurance and so they know where you are. You can wear a bell at your ankle or put a bell on the other dog – if you have one – to help them track your movements.
- Don’t move their food bowls, water bowls, beds, litter tray – so they learn where they are.
- If you pick them up, put them down at a place they will recognise – like their bed – so they have a starting point from which to navigate.
- Get a ‘blind pet toy’ that makes a sound!
- You can use dots of essential oils like lavender, cloves, vanilla, etc. at important sites to give the pet a “smell map” to follow – for example at the foot of the stairs, at the door. You can do a similar thing with tactile reminders like having a mat outside the back door.
Our blind patients usually cope very well using their ears and their noses. The loss of their vision, once they have adapted, is much less of an impediment to them than it is for us, provided we give them a little extra consideration. If you have any concerns about your pet’s quality of life do not hesitate to contact the RVC or your vet.
Other useful information
There are multiple websites online discussing the experience people have with their blind pets and how they helped them cope with the transition from vision. The books listed bellow can be found in Amazon and other book sellers
- Living with Blind Dogs – by Caroline Levin
- Caring for a Blind Cat – by Natasha Mitchell
- My Dog is Blind but Lives Life to the Full! – by Nicole Horsky