Are you noticing some changes in your dog’s eyes? Do you feel like it’s acting differently? Do you need help figuring out whether your dog is experiencing vision loss?
Dogs aren’t just pets; they’re part of the family, and no one wants to be oblivious while their own family is suffering. Blindness is common in dogs, whether it’s because of an underlying illness, accidents, or age.
Either way, it happens, and it’s important to notice it as early as possible to treat the causes before it’s too late. So, if you need some questions answered, here’s how to tell if your dog is going blind and what to do next.
How Do You Check a Dog’s Vision?
Before jumping to conclusions about your dog’s ocular health, you should check signs for blindness, observe their behavior, and do an eye exam or more.
Check Physical Symptoms
The first thing you should do when you suspect a dog’s blindness or vision impairment in your dog is to check any physical symptoms of eye problems or eye disorders. So, get your dog in a room with good lighting to see clearly.
Start examining your dog’s eyes by checking if there’s any cloudiness or fuzziness, whether it’s the whole eye or small opaque spots. Cloudiness in the eyes is one of the symptoms of a cataract or glaucoma. Bloodshot eyes could also be an infection or glaucoma.
Also, make sure that your dog’s pupils are the same size because if they’re not, your dog might have retinal or macular degeneration, one of the common vision issues in older dogs.
On the other hand, watery or teary eyes could be a sign of an eye infection. Another common eye infection or injury sign is the protrusion of the third eyelid.
Observe Behavioral Changes
When a dog is losing their eyesight, you may notice some changes in how they behave.
Your dog may walk in a drowsy way or run into objects. In addition, they may look confused or lose their confidence when playing or running. If they don’t respond to your hand signals anymore, their eye health is probably compromised.
Plus, a dog with eye problems will start being reluctant to use the stairs or walk around in the dark. A blind dog might have to sniff to find things that they should see immediately.
Perform a Sight Exam
Pupillary Light Reflex Test
Pupillary Light Reflex, or PLR, refers to the dilation and constriction of the pupils as a response to light stimulation. Humans and animals have it alike, and testing this reflex is vital to confirm the well-being of your dog’s vision.
Healthy pupils in a seeing dog constrict when subjected to direct light and dilate when it gets darker again.
It’s essential that you don’t just test whether your dog’s pupils dilate or constrict but how fast they do. A delay in the response is a sign of partial loss of vision. Also, do this test with a low-powered flashlight so that you don’t actually harm your dog’s eyes. Plus, testing each eye alone by covering the other helps get more accurate results.
If your dog’s pupils are still dilated when you shine a direct light on them or take time to constrict, it’s time to make an appointment with your vet.
Menace Reflex Test
If you’re a seeing person and someone suddenly moves something really close to your eyes, you will definitely blink. This is called the menace reflex or response, and it’s meant to protect the eyes. Dogs have this reflex too, and vets test it when they suspect vision loss.
It’s important that you do this test in a room with normal lighting. Also, remember to test each eye individually because sometimes dogs have vision problems in one eye only, so cover one eye and test the other.
Also, your dog can “cheat” by sensing the current that objects cause when they move, so make sure that you move it behind a sheet of paper or plastic screen and stay away from their whiskers. Be careful not to poke your dog’s eye yourself.
If one or both eyes don’t blink, take your dog to the vet.
Cotton Ball Test
One of the most obvious signs of blindness in humans or dogs is when their eyes don’t move even when they should, such as when following moving objects.
However, we don’t test this reaction with any object; it has to be one without smell or sound so that your dog doesn’t perceive it with other senses, which is why the most popular object to use in such an eye exam is a dry cotton ball.
Just like the menace and PLR tests, you’ll get more accurate results if you test each eye alone because eye problems can happen in one eye only.
Get a dry cotton ball and drop it from above their head within a dozen inches from your dog. A healthy dog will follow the ball with its cloudy eyes and even play with it. If your dog has trouble seeing the ball, you should take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Obstacle Course Test
Dogs are such impressive creatures that can memorize their surroundings, which makes many pet owners or dog owner mistake their dogs for having perfect vision just because they never run into anything at home. Thus, we have to test them by creating obstacles and changing things up to see how well they will perform. The best place to perform this test is in your backyard or a large room at home.
Grab pieces of furniture and place them where they usually aren’t so that your dog has to depend on their eyesight, not memory. Basically, create a maze-like course where there’s a clear path that they can take if they can see.
Stand at the end of the path and call your dog once. The importance of only calling once is that your dog may depend on your voice to guide them, and we don’t want that. If they pass the test in daylight, do it again at night because dogs tend to lose their night vision first.
If they don’t succeed in the nighttime test and bump into the obstacles, they could have a visual impairment.
What Do I Do If My Dog Is Going Blind?
Of course, you’ll take your blind pet to the veterinary ophthalmologist and follow their instructions. However, there are some things to do on your part to make sure that your dog lives a happy life despite its loss of sight.
Try to make things safe for your dog and remove any hazardous objects out of its way. Also, make it easier for your dog to find its water and food bowl. In fact, it’s better to establish a routine for its entire day.
In addition, blindness shouldn’t stand between your dog and playtime. Play with your canine friend in a safe area and let them sniff around first. Take your blind dog walking the same routes because they make take time to adjust to changes.
It’s important that you frequently talk with your dog and depend on your voice and other sounds to communicate. It will make them feel happier as they adjust to their loss of sight.
What Causes a Dog to Go Blind Suddenly?
There are many health conditions and diseases that can make your dog’s eyesight deteriorate. Here are the most common ones:
Diabetes is a chronic disease that happens when dogs aren’t producing enough insulin, meaning that blood sugar levels can get out of hand.
Diabetes is more common in dogs than most people know, and most cases of blindness in dogs are diabetic. In fact, vision loss happens very quickly with diabetes.
Your veterinarian can’t cure it but will manage the symptoms through insulin shots and a prescribed diet, mainly low-fat food.
Cataracts cloud your dog’s eye lenses and blur their impaired vision problem. Inherited conditions are more likely to cause this issue. Yet, they’re common in older and diabetic dogs. Also, your dog may develop cataracts due to trauma. A Cataract can develop very quickly and cause glaucoma if left untreated.
Your veterinarian may treat cataracts with surgery by removing and replacing the lens.
Glaucoma is one of the most painful eye conditions that your older dog can experience. It refers to the build-up of fluid pressure in the eyes, damaging the retina and the optic nerve.
According to PetMD, 40% of dogs with glaucoma will become sudden blindness in the affected eye disease within the first year, regardless of treatment or surgery.
You can expect the veterinarian to use medications to lower the pressure as soon as possible, thus saving as much of your dog’s vision as they can. In more advanced cases, surgery will be needed.
One of the key causes of permanent blindness in dogs is hypertension or high blood pressure, especially in older dogs. It can happen with or without an underlying cause. One of the causes can be that it runs in the senior dog or a Siberian husky family. Also, hypertension can cause retinal detachment or progressive retinal atrophy and intraocular bleeding.
If it has an underlying cause, the vet can treat the cause. The most likely scenario is your deaf dog will be put on medication to manage the symptoms indefinitely. Low-sodium food can also help.
Head trauma, whether it’s minor or major, can definitely lead to blindness. Of course, the first thing to do on your part is to take the injured dog to the vet as soon as possible after an accident. The treatment and its success will depend on the severity of the accident.
Protecting Your Dog’s Eyes – The Final Thoughts
I hope the article was helpful and informative for you. Please tell us in the comment section below what you think and what made you look it up.
I had to write it because it’s imperative to know how to tell if your dog is going blind before it’s too late. Look for the signs to get a general idea and take the diabetic dog to the vet to find out what happened and why. Good luck!