Blindness can be surprisingly difficult to spot in dogs, thanks to their ability to compensate for vision loss with their other acute senses. In this blog, our Clovis vets share ways to spot the early signs of failing vision and what to do if you suspect blindness.
Spotting Vision Problems in Dogs
Dogs are extraordinary animals; for many people, dogs are loyal friends and significant family members.
It can take a while to notice if your dog's vision is deteriorating. However, if your dog becomes visually impaired or blind, they will likely memorize the layout of your furniture and learn how to navigate your home to avoid obstacles.
Spotting the first signs of blindness in dogs is essential since early diagnosis and treatment could help to extend your dog's vision.
Symptoms of Vision Problems
A variety of factors, including aging, injury, or certain health conditions, can cause vision loss in dogs. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of this condition include:
- Pawing at the eyes or face
- Eyes become cloudy
- Bumping into objects
- Changes in behavior that indicate anxiety or hesitation in new places
- Reluctance to go up or down stairs or jump onto furniture
- Swollen, puffy, or inflamed eyes
- Obvious eye irritation or pawing at the face
- Confused, dazed, easily startled
The natural aging process in dogs can sometimes include vision loss, ranging from minor visual impairment to complete blindness. A dog's vision may also become impaired due to hereditary reasons, disease, or injury.
It is important to note that blindness may not always be the primary issue but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. Dogs with heart disease, kidney or liver disorders, or systemic diseases may experience blindness due to these conditions.
Conditions That May Cause Blindness in Dogs
If your dog's eye appears cloudy, it may be a sign of cataracts. Cataracts can prevent light from reaching the retina, which can lead to vision loss. Diagnosing cataracts early is important, so surgery can be considered a treatment option to maintain your dog's eyesight.
Diabetes in dogs is relatively common. Older dogs of large breeds, females that are breeding, dogs that have poor nutrition, and obese dogs all have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Cataracts, which can cause full or partial blindness, will develop in more than 75% of dogs with diabetes.
Glaucoma is a painful condition that can be treated. The best treatment outcomes come with early diagnosis. Symptoms of glaucoma in dogs include: yellow or green discharge from their eyes, dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, or delayed reaction to bright light. If your dog is displaying glaucoma symptoms, contact your vet as soon as possible. Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to partial or complete blindness.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), is an inherited condition that can be difficult to detect due to its slow progression (allowing your dog to adapt to their visual impairment). While PRA is painless, it causes a retina deterioration, leading to blindness in both eyes.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) is comparable to PRA in how it affects the retina and causes blindness in both eyes. However, SARDS progresses rapidly and can cause complete blindness in a matter of days or weeks. This condition is especially challenging for dogs as they have a limited time to adapt to their sudden vision loss.
Treatment of Vision Problems in Dogs
Contact your vet if you believe that your dog is experiencing vision problems. Vision issues typically do not clear up on their own, and early intervention is key with most instances of sight loss.
Your dog's vision problems could indicate bigger health problems.
Making an appointment with your vet for a full examination is the best way to prevent further complications, and possibly save even your dog's eyesight.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.