If you have clicked on this article, it is safe to assume that you are either considering adopting a blind dog or that your canine companion has recently lost their vision.
Taking on or continuing to care for a blind dog is a big decision because you will need to do thorough research to make sure that you understand and are able to accommodate your dog’s condition as much as possible. You may also need to make some changes to the layout of your home or to your dog’s routine.
The good news, however, is that blind dogs can absolutely live fulfilling, healthy, and happy lives. Also, by clicking on this article, you have taken the first step towards learning to look after your blind dog, so we’re sure you’ll feel more confident in no time.
This article will be dispelling some misconceptions surrounding blindness in dogs, including whether keeping a blind dog is cruel and whether it is necessary to put down a blind dog. We’ll also be going over some ways to help your dog adjust to their blindness.
Do Dogs Know They Are Blind?
Although dogs are unable to process the idea of blindness as a concept, dogs can still experience anxiety and confusion if they lose their vision, especially if the blindness comes on suddenly.
Unless a dog is born blind, they will be aware of the fact that they are no longer about to use their sense of sight. This can be a very distressing experience for a dog, so there will be an adjustment period, and your dog is likely to need extra emotional support as well as practical help for a while after they lose their vision.
If you sense that your dog is not adjusting well to their condition and that their loss of sight still seems to be significantly affecting their quality of life, there are things you can do to ease their anxiety.
The sound of your voice is a very important tool. Being able to hear you will reassure your dog that you are there. Where possible, alert your dog to your presence with your voice before touching them so that they don’t get startled. Alternatively, you could wear a scent to make yourself known.
Is it Cruel to Keep a Blind Dog?
If you are worried that keeping a blind dog would constitute cruelty on your part, rest assured that keeping a blind dog is absolutely not cruel. In fact, as long as you can provide the right support for your dog, continuing to care for them yourself is the kindest thing that you can do.
What can be cruel, however, is keeping a blind dog in an environment that is not fit for their needs or is not safe for them, given their lack of ability to guide themselves visually.
Therefore, it is important to make sure that your home is as accommodating and accessible for your dog as possible after they lose their vision.
The single best thing you can do to reduce the stress of adjustment is keeping the environment as familiar as possible. After your dog has lost their sight is not the time to start rearranging or redesigning your home.
As much as possible, keep furniture in the same place to minimize the amount of relearning that your dog needs to go through in terms of moving around the home.
Make sure to keep food and water, as well as your dog’s bed, in the same location so that they can find the essentials easily. Not being able to feed or hydrate themselves will significantly increase the stress of becoming blind for your dog, so try to make sure that this isn’t an issue in your home.
Any areas of the home that could present stress or danger to your dog, such as stairs or sharp furniture corners, should either be blocked off or made safer by using textured markers or even scents as warnings. Having carpet or traction strips fitted on stairs is also a good idea.
Training may also be necessary to help your dog adjust after blindness. You can teach your dog new commands so that they know when to climb up or down a step, for example. Make sure that ‘stop’ is clearly established as a command so that your dog doesn’t walk into dangerous areas.
Should I Put Down My Blind Dog?
This is a heartbreaking question, but it’s one that dog owners may ask themselves if they feel that their blind dog has become depressed as a result of their sight loss or that they cannot accommodate their dog’s needs.
However, there is absolutely no reason to put down a blind dog. As we have clarified in this article, the majority of dogs will adapt well to their loss of vision and continue to live happy lives.
If you feel, for whatever reason, that you are unable to provide the accommodations that your dog’s condition requires, we would recommend consulting with your veterinarian or even a dog behaviorist. Either of these professionals should be able to provide some advice and helpful resources for helping you and your dog to adapt to these new circumstances.
In the event that you exhaust all the options recommended by professionals and still do not feel able to meet your blind dog’s needs, you should consider rehoming them, ideally to somebody with prior experience of caring for blind animals.
Although rehoming a dog is never ideal, especially if they are already struggling to adapt, it is still a better option than euthanasia.
Usually, dogs are good at adapting to loss of vision, and the fact that a dog is blind will not normally have a significant impact on their temperament or quality of life.
With that being said, there will, of course, be an adjustment period where your dog will need to learn to navigate using smell and hearing as their primary senses.
It is not in any way cruel to keep a blind dog, and helping a blind dog to adjust is usually not difficult. However, if you feel unable to cater to your dog’s new requirements, please rehome them instead of opting for euthanasia. Your blind dog still has a happy and healthy life ahead of them.