Living With a Dog With Limited Vision
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

Looking Beyond Limited Vision Looking Beyond Limited Vision
Changes in the eye including vision loss are a natural part of canine aging. However, a dog with compromised vision, or even blindness, can live very comfortably for many years. The following simple life-style changes can help your senior dog lead a quality life throughout his golden years.

Modify living environment
Did You Know?
Cataracts are one of the most common problems affecting the eyes of older dogs. Signs and symptoms of this disease include: Cloudy appearance to eyes, pet bumping into objects, or not retrieving objects. The most common metabolic disorder resulting in cataract formation is diabetes mellitus. Nuclear Sclerosis is another common aging change to the eye, and cloudiness in the eye is a common symptom, but there is generally no vision loss.

If you suspect your dog is developing cataracts, contact your veterinarian. Be sure to work closely with a veterinary ophthalmologist to take the best and most effective course of treatment for your dog. Remember, eye exams should always be a part of the physical exam in older dogs.

Create a living space that properly accommodates your limited sight senior dog. Allow ease of mobility by removing clutter and create wide paths between furniture. Once you decide on a configuration that's pleasing to you and functional for your dog, stick to it. Avoid frequent change. Large pieces of furniture serve as landmarks or signposts for your dog. Also, keep daily items such as food containers, water bowls, and beds in the same location. Consistent and stable placement of familiar objects helps your dog create a reliable mental map of the layout and reduce fear of the unknown.

Focus on other senses
Train yourself to employ sound, smell, or tactile stimuli. Take advantage of your dog's keen sense of hearing and smell. It is the perfect opportunity to refresh or reinforce verbal command training. In addition to vocal commands, consider using a favorite toy with a squeaker or another noise element to help train and guide your limited sight senior dog. The simple leash is an invaluable tool when taking your dog outdoors or to unfamiliar areas. The leash provides tactile information for your dog, letting him know that you're right next to him for support. It is important to encourage social, outdoor activities to promote well-being and to provide mental and physical stimulation for your senior dog.

Reduce stress - Create a safe zone
Pamper your senior dog with a well-deserved safe zone. Needless to say, navigating the world blind or with limited sight can be stressful. An orthopedic bed for your senior dog, located in a designated area, provides a secure area for your dog to "decompress." An easily accessible dog bed also minimizes strain and potential injuries associated with climbing or jumping into human beds. Consider using a pheromone-emitting product near your pet's bed, such as Comfort Zone Plug-In, to further reduce stress and create a relaxing and supportive environment.

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