Like their pet parents, dogs can lose their vision and struggle with the challenges of going blind. Today, our South Florida vets explain how to spot the early signs of visual impairment in your dog, and what you should do if you suspect your dog may be losing their sight.
Dogs are truly extraordinary animals, and for many of us, our canine companions are a significant part of their family.
Your dog's eyes can reveal important details about their general physical condition. The health of your dog's eyes can be a sign of several serious conditions, including liver disease, diabetes, anemia, poisoning, head trauma, pain, auto-immune diseases, and cancer. Your veterinarian may be able to make your dog's eyes more comfortable and possibly save or restore its vision by recognizing the early signs of eye conditions.
Symptoms of Vision Problems
Whether it's due to aging or other health conditions, below are a few of the most common symptoms that suggest your dog may be losing their vision:
- Cloudy appearance of the eye
- Your dog is bumping into objects
- Signs of anxiety or hesitation when in new places
- Your dog is suddenly unwilling to go up or down stairs, or jump onto furniture which they normally did
- Eyes are red, puffy or swollen
- Obvious eye irritation or pawing at face
- If your dog seems confused, dazed, easily startled
Aging, illness, trauma, and hereditary conditions can all lead to visual impairments in dogs. In actuality, vision loss in your dog, which can range from minor issues to total blindness, can occasionally be a part of the natural aging process. Having said that, it's critical for pet owners to realize that blindness occasionally isn't the main problem but rather a symptom of an underlying illness, such as heart disease, kidney or liver problems, or systemic diseases.
Some of the most common causes of vision loss in dogs include:
- Sadly, our vets are seeing an increasing number of dogs suffering from diabetes. Dogs at a higher risk of becoming diabetic include older large breeds, breeding females, dogs that have poor nutrition, and obese dogs. 75% of dogs with diabetes are likely to develop cataracts which can result in full or partial blindness.
- Cataracts are easily spotted by pet parents. If your dog has progressed cataracts you may notice a cloudy appearance to your dog's eye. This condition stops light from fully reaching the retina and can lead to total blindness in dogs. In some cases, cataracts can be operated on which may prevent blindness, but early intervention is essential.
- A migraine-like pain is a common symptom of the painful eye condition glaucoma. Although glaucoma has a variety of treatment options, the best results come from detecting the disease as soon as possible. Visit your veterinarian as soon as possible if your dog is slow to react to bright light, has bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, or any of these other symptoms. Blindness may result from this painful condition if it is not treated, either partially or completely.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome
- Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) causes retinal deterioration, resulting in blindness in both of the dog's eyes. This syndrome develops quickly in dogs and can cause total blindness in a matter of days or weeks. Dogs with SARDS may have a difficult time adjusting to their visual impairment due to the sudden nature of the condition.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), is a painless condition that results in the deterioration of the retina, potentially leading to blindness in both of the dog's eyes. PRA is an inherited condition that develops at a slower rate than SARDS, which can give your dog time to adjust to their loss of sight.
Treatment of Vision Problems in Dogs
Typically, the conditions that cause loss of vision for dogs will not go away on their own. Early intervention is essential when it comes to helping your dog cope with their loss of vision, or to treat the condition and perhaps preserve your dog's eyesight.
In some cases, conditions that could lead to blindness may trigger other health issues, or your dog's blindness may be a symptom of a larger medical problem. Making an appointment with your veterinarian for a thorough examination is the best way to avoid further complications and possibly save your dog's sight.
Veterinary Ophthalmology at Animal Eye Guys
At Animal Eye Guys, our board certified veterinary ophthalmologists use cutting-edge approaches to your dog’s eye care. Because there are certain pet eye conditions that can be reversed if they’re diagnosed in their early stages, we place a strong emphasis on the diagnostic portion of our ophthalmology services.Some of the most common eye problems our ophthalmology specialists treat include:
- Scratches / Abrasions
- Corneal Ulcers
- Vision Loss
- Auto-Immune Conditions
- Scratches / Abrasions
- Corneal Ulcers