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When your dog goes blind, an individual experience and tips along the way.

Updated: May 25

It's something that can happen to any dog and yet you never really think about it.

We feed and supplement for allergies, joint health, gut health the list goes on but few think about eye health. It's the same with people too. Way back when you're told to eat carrots you will see in the dark. We smiled and thought it was just an old wives tale. There is some truth in it, mostly red, orange or yellow colored vegetables and fruits, like carrots, dark leafy greens, red /yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe melons , broccoli to name a few as well as some herbs have higher beta carotene, this converts to vitamin A, (retinol) which we need for good vision eye health, healthy skin and a good immune system. Beta Carotene is a fat soluble compound. This means eating this with a little fat helps its absorption, a little virgin olive oil , or coconut oil increases bioavailability. Beta carotene is a carotenoid which not only helps eyes but oxidative stress, cancers ,heart disease, cognitive disorders like memory loss and Alzheimer's as well as being good for the lungs and skin.

There are many types of blindness in dogs as well as people. It could be from illnesses like diabetes, eye disease, infections, damage to the eye, it could be inherited. My dog has PRA progressive retinal atrophy. There are 2 types one sudden blindness and one onset progressive blindness. There isn't anything that can be done to stop this. Although l have heard there is a company making peptides for dogs , which is already available for humans , but l don't really know anymore than that for now.

I only have experience with my dog and all dogs are different, to how they cope, so my story might not be the same as yours or anyone else. My take on this could even be different to my dogs if he could talk.

The end of last year after a couple of vet trips for diffferent things, they said his eyes where good. I had a feeling they were not. My dog is a shar pei so his eye sight isn't always the best close up because of the lose skin they have. He gets outside allergies too so that and ear infections in the past can give watery / itchy eyes. I admit l thought the eye doctor was going to say oh it's allergies. I was shocked , like someone punched me in the gut when he said your dog will be completely blind within a year.

Everyone tells you they adapt really well, they use their smell and hearing to get by which is way better than their sight anyway. A dogs smell /nose is truly it's super power, they smell scientists report 10,000 to 100,000 times more acutely than a human. For every 1 scent receptor a human has a dog has 50. They can smell disease, they can smell different things out of each nostril, they can even smell your emotions. They know when your happy sad, they know when you mean something or they can get round you. So your dog will be just fine.

What no one tells you is .

It's eight months he is doing really well. We both are.

He is going blind and yes it does effect him , does he get sad, depressed even bored yes he does.

There are times he suddenly panics and tries to find a place to hide. While confused and bumping into things. His head swaying a little anxiously wondering why he can't see. The first time l took a deep breath and thought this is it. He is now completely blind , from here life changes we shall adapt again . Only for him to wake up the next morning like the night before never happened, and he is back to seeing something again bright light,shadows who knows. I thought he would go blind gradually and that be it. This happens randomly l glad he gets a little something back again . Although each time he seams to loose a little more sight. I try to treat him no different , let him have some independence but it is sad that he has to give up things like watching the tele , now he sits and watches a wall sometimes. Just breaks your hurt ,but he is strong and so are you.

  1. l have learnt this happens mostly when he is tired. In the morning he bounds out the door enjoying a walk . In the evening it takes 10 mins he get him out the door. I let him wait till he is brave enough , it doesn't even have to be dark out. Sometimes he can't bring himself to go out at all. Sometimes he goes outside and takes another 10 mins to pick up the nerves to go down the pathway to leave the door step. Once he decides which way is the safest, he walks no problem, confident sniffing leading the way. There are times when he is worse he looks ( yes even though he can't see me he looks in my eyes) and wants me to lead him and give vocal clues for direction and follows what l say. Those are the times l see how brave he has to be. I'm proud of him . Outside to a dog is often the unknown . With no sight and the smell of local wildlife gators, coyotes, maybe bear and everything else in between around it's a different world . He is very aware of every noise. There are times he sniffs the air and refuses to go on , then we go back and sometimes he won't move at all .

2. When he does see something a contrast maybe. When he isn't nervous or anxious he is more stubborn then normal . More defiant. Leads the way to where he wants to go . Ask him to sit or not go into that bush to sniff as he might get a branch in his eye. It's " hell no women l'm blind. I do what l want l don't need to do that anymore. " Like he just read the doggy book on living your best life. Who can blame him .

3. He can't see until he can . He can't see but he can smell better and dogs can smell on a whole new level. You know that saying a dog only hears what he wants well he only smells what he wants too.

4. Sometimes he wants to work it out for himself. If he gets confused and panicked at home. He will follow what l say , but l feel sometimes it just makes him more confused. He just needs to find a place, a mat which he knows stop take a breath and to re direct himself. I learnt to do that (a bit like maps on your phone when you take a wrong turn )

5. Diet is always important. There are a few supplements the main one is Ocu-Glo . It won't heal or stop PRA but it can prolong it a little . I think it has helped . I also feed carrots, spinach l raw feed so l feed sometimes eyes cow eyes, chicken heads fish heads. Like feeds like .

6. Toys, games , a job is still important. My dog isn't a ball dog or a tug dog not even a soft toy dog but the training games , brain training ,where you hid the food and they work out how to get it and a ball that is a treat dispenser he loves and has mastered like a pro.

He is a dog first, blind second . Treat them like dogs. He still likes to meet new people , new dogs , eat grass, roll in mud, smell flowers. Play fight me while walking . He still steals an item of food l might drop (often on purpose) . Keep them occupied will help with depression. Sometimes l can't get him out from under the bed. Other times you think is he really blind? And he is coping amazingly.

Things that have helped.

A runners light on his harness maybe not so much now but a few months back when the dark scared him . Dogs and anyone with PRA get night blindness first. A light gave him something a see. A rug or runner to help with corners or rooms . Plug in night lights for if they get up in the night. Of course that only helps while they see contrast . Training asap left, right , backwards, over, up the curb , down, down the hill, mind you don't fall ( he was always falling off the curb while walking ). Tell them when people are coming, mind the bike. You're in the road when he decides to take a rest in the middle of the road. Talk to them more. Tell them when your going to pet them . Something l never remember and often make him jump he never seams to mind. Watch for holes, snakes, ants you're their eyes and they are your nose. It's important to let them sniff and be curious of things.

What l learnt most is they say he be fine they adapt so well, and they do most of them but it still sucks going blind and they need time and patience and love and calm. They will be confused and miss their sight. They can get down, be depressed. I find sometimes he wants to be alone and sometimes he won't go to bed without me . He sleeps more . I feel he needs too. He must have to concentrate more. His hearing is more intense. I swear he hears thunder miles away as he sits at the door with ears up like a radar and that look on his face. I say there's nothing there. He also eats more , well eats all his food and seams more hungry . He still wags his tail and has lots of happy times .He still loves adventure.

I hope that is a little helpful, lm sure they are all different and cope differently as do you. We all learn to adapt and our dogs. Even if that means spoiling them even more .

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