Although it can be heartbreaking to learn that your aging dog is going blind, the silver lining is knowing that there are plenty of ways to adapt to this new situation. You will find that with a few lifestyle adjustments, you can still enjoy many of the same activities with your furry friend.
Begin Blind Proofing Your House
If you’ve ever awoken in the middle of the night to a pitch-black room, you know how disorienting it can be. Even more so when you find yourself banging into a dresser or tripping over your shoes before you find the light switch. You’ll need to start ensuring that there are clear paths around your home for your dog. This includes not only looking out for cords or wires that your dog could trip on, but picking up any obstacles that could inhibit your pup’s movement. It may take a little time, but taking your dog around the house a few times on a short lead, will help your pup map out his or her surroundings.
This mental map will help your dog get around your house without injuring themselves. And it is important that you are always very conscious of how changing this map can be confusing for your dog. This means making sure that your dog is aware when you have added new furniture and that you’ll have to think twice before you want to move the couch to the other wall. Additionally, it will help your pup if you keep their toys, food, and water bowls in the same spot. A food bowl can act as a great home base for your pooch if they ever get too confused or disoriented. If you have any stairs, you will want to baby-gate them for a bit until you can determine how your pup handles even a few stairs.
Another great alternative is to invest in a great product like Muffin’s Halo, which helps blind dogs adapt to their new condition. Muffin’s Halo comes in all sizes and helps to prevent blind dogs from bumping into walls and objects. Because it is lightweight and comfortable, it does not hinder your dog’s normal daily activity.
Whose Walking Who?
Those daily walks around your neighborhood can still happen. Remember that smell is the most important sense for dogs, and they will enjoy your evening strolls even if they can’t appreciate the sunset. It’s a good idea to shorten their lead when taking them on a walk.
Although your dog can navigate fairly well by sound and smell, you’ll have to be their eyes. Your dog will depend on you to lead them more than ever, and you may find yourself tugging on their leash more often. Getting a harness for your dog can help alleviate the additional stress you may putting on their necks.
Get Out the Noisemakers and Smell Makers
That brightly-colored ball you got your dog won’t mean much if they can’t find it. Keep a few of their old favorites around to comfort them, but start investing in stimulating dog toys. These toys will engage your dog’s other senses and make playtime more interesting. This can be as simple as getting a squeaky toy or ball.
Dog toys that allow you to hide strong-smelling chews or treats are great alternatives to the fuzzy tennis ball. If your dog has a strong appetite, they’ll be engaged in a toy that is housing their favorite food. There are several toys for blind dogs on the market that make playtime just as fun as always.
You and Your Pup Are Not Alone (and that’s a good thing)
Although, you’ll feel that you and your dog are alone in this new reality, you can rest assured there are people before you that have traveled down this path. Their experience and knowledge will only make living with your dog that much easier. There are products that lean on your dog’s sense of smell, like Tracerz Scent Markers for Blind Dogs, and help them navigate around your home. Moreover, there are products like the Halo Vest that can protect your dog from bumping into objects and injuring themselves.
Besides orienting your dog, one of the best things you can do is remain positive. Your dog is sensitive to your mood, and especially the tone of your voice. Always greet your dog with a cheery voice. Dogs live very much in the moment, and if you make that moment an encouraging one, you and your dog will be happier for it. To learn more about blindness in dogs, refer to this helpful guide about dog health issues.