Caring for blind pets
A lot of pet owners worry about how their pet will cope with blindness but luckily, most pets adapt really well and continue to live happy lives.
If you've been told your pet is losing their sight, or if you're thinking about adopting a blind pet, there are some simple things you can do to help them adjust.
Keep their home the same
Don’t make any sudden changes to the layout of your home. Your pet will gradually learn to find their way around furniture and through doorways, so try to keep things the same so you don’t throw them off. They often do this so well it’s as if they have their sight back!
If you do need to make a change in your home, guide them around the new layout several times to help them learn new routes through the room. You can also leave a radio playing softly near where they sleep. The sound coming from the same place will help them to orientate themselves and ‘map’ the house.
Keep their food and water bowls in the same place
Moving their food and water bowls somewhere new could throw your pet off. The same goes for litter trays. Help your pet avoid any accidents and stop them going hungry by keeping things consistent. If you need to move their things, then guide them to their new location a few times to help them adjust.
Pet-proof your home.
Take another look at your home and work out if there any hazards for a blind pet. Think about removing any furniture with sharp edges and make sure electrical wires are tucked out of the way of your pet's path. Make sure your pet can't accidentally bump into anything hot or dangerous, like a wood burning stove or fireplace. You can also add padding to the corners of sharp objects such as tables
Be their lookout on walks and in the garden
Outside of the house, keep a lookout for anything that might be a danger for your pet like low hanging branches, thorns or uneven surfaces. Keep your garden clear of any dangers too if your pet spends time out there. If your pet likes to explore outside, you can try putting up a wind chime near the door which will help to guide them back to where they need to be when they want to come in. It also helps them to 'map' out the area.
Ring a bell
When you take your dog for a walk, try wearing a small bell or a rattle. This 'jingle' will help your dog to know where you are at all times. you could try this around your home, too, if your pet likes to know where you are.
Keep the lead on
It's best to keep your dog on a lead during walkies. Only let them off the lead if you're in a secure, enclosed space. You might want to give the area a quick check over for potential dangers beforehand to make sure your dog will be safe. If they are out socialising, let other people know that your dog can't see so they don't reach out and make them jump unexpectedly. Harnesses are much kinder to your pet's neck and eyes, and also allow better control if you're helping to steer them away fro, hazards.
Try new toys
If your pet has lost interest in their old toys or is struggling to play the games they used to, make the most of their keen sense of hearing and smell. There are lots of scent based games you can play with dogs, although these might take a bit of training and practise. You can buy toys for cats and dogs which you can stuff with tasty treats that your blind pet can sniff out. Rubber balls with a bell inside are great for ball-orientated dogs, and the sound helps them to track their play-thing.
Lucky's story: living with blindness
Lucky the Border Terrier was born blind, but his father, Scruff, was right by his side to lend a helping paw. It was almost as if his dad was acting as his guide dog, helping him find his way on walks and stopping him from bumping into things.
Lucky's owner, Jim, also made changes around the home, including keeping furniture in the same place and not leaving things lying around that could be a trip hazard.
Jim explains 'we're extremely grateful to the PDSA vets and nurses at Tollcross Pet Hospitla for the help and support they have given us, which helped Lucky blossom into a loving, confident dog.