How to Spot Vision Loss in Pets

Just as their human companions, our forever-ageless pets do indeed age. And, although they still bound and jump for joy chasing a squirrel or harassing the birds, our pets do experience failing eyesight as they get older.  

Watching your pet age and slow down can be a somber time, and that is why The VetSet is here by your side in every part of the journey — from youngster to the senior years. Whether you need a wellness exam or a vision test, we can help you with the myriad of pet services we offer. Gather your pet and join us in today’s post on vision loss in pets.

How To Spot Vision Loss

There are many reasons and conditions that can cause vision loss in your pet, and it is important to identify them so they don’t hurt themselves, and so you can modify your home to provide them a better quality of life.

What are the vision conditions that affect pets?

Pets experience vision loss due to the following conditions:

  • Glaucoma – Pressure on the eyes and optic nerve that may result in blindness.
  • Cataracts – You can spot cataracts in pets by a cloudy appearance in their eyes, directly behind the iris.
  • Retinal Degeneration (SARDS and PRA) – SARDS affects the light-sensing cells in the eyes and can cause blindness quite rapidly, while PRA is similar, but is less progressive.
  • Eye Trauma – This can result from an accident that causes trauma to their eye, such as running into a branch or getting hit by a car.

You may notice your pet’s sight start to go with very visible signs, and below are some at-home tests you can use to help determine if they are suffering from vision loss. It is always important to keep notes on their changes in behavior or any physical signs, so when you do schedule an appointment with a vet, you can help them better understand what has been happening. Pets will often rub their eyes, squint, or have irritated, red eyes if there is an issue present.

Note how your dog maneuvers your home.

If your dog begins to run into things seemingly out of the blue or is having an increase of accidents inside your home, they may be losing their vision. They may not know where they are, so they can tend to bump into the kitchen table or are not be able to find their pet door to go outside for the bathroom.  

Watch for clumsiness.

It may be cute if your pet stumbles around the backyard like the town drunk, but there comes a time when their clumsiness is much more than endearing. They may be having a hard time knowing where the stairs are or the uneven ground they keep tripping on in the garage. If this behavior increases to a daily basis, it is time for a wellness and vision checkup for your vet.

Watch for increased startling or apprehension.

If your pet begins to startle easily from loud noises, or things falling close by that they should have seen or become afraid of strangers inside your home, they may not be able to see events or people and need to get their vision addressed in the animal clinic.

Vet Checkups for Vision Loss in Pets

If you suspect vision loss in your pet, taking them in to the animal clinic is the next step. The vet will oversee a thorough exam to determine that it is, in fact, a vision loss in your pet. They will run a series of blood work, CT scans, neurological exams, a cerebral spinal fluid test, and an eye exam. The course of treatment will depend on your pet’s diagnosis, and while vision loss is often permanent, your pet will still be able to adjust and live a happy, fulfilling life.

How can I help my pet adjust to their new disability?

It is important to tackle this issue head-on and avoid pitting or babying your pet because this just prolongs the adjustment period.

You can do small things such as picking your pet up to say hello and being sure to put them exactly where they were, same direction and all. You can also help guide them with your voice at entrances and exits.

Pets also do well with schedules, so ensure you are feeding your dog at the same time every day. With there food bowls in the same place; even putting textures in certain areas such as stickers or mats can help them reorient themselves with their environment.

Dogs with vision loss still need plenty of exercise, so begin by walking them the same route everyday to keep their stress levels minimal and the area familiar with the same smells and sounds.  

It is easy to feel sorry for your pet and their vision loss, but it is imperative you keep a cheery and positive demeanor and remain encouraging. Many pets go on to live long and healthy lives with a vision impairment.

For more information on our wellness checkups, connect with us today!

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