Sadly, some conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes, can cause pets to lose their sight. Sight may not be the primary sense in all pets (dogs, for example, have an extremely well developed sense of smell), but despite this, when pets go blind, life still becomes disorientating and requires a period of adaptation.
As October is World Blindness Awareness month, leading veterinary charity, PDSA, has put together some advice on helping pets to adjust to sight loss.
PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Sean Wensley says: “If you are concerned about your pet’s vision you should contact your vet. They will be able to check your pet’s eyes and general health. If a medical condition is diagnosed they will discuss treatment options, as well as providing you with support and guidance in dealing with the condition.”
Each individual pet will react differently to blindness, and the following factors will influence how well they adjust:
- Age – the older the pet the more time it is likely to take for them to adapt to impaired vision
- Training – are they capable of learning new skills?
- Speed of onset – gradual sight loss means they should be able to compensate over time
- Personality – more confident pets may adapt better than more anxious ones
- You - how much are you able to help your pet?
Owners need to be as supportive and patient as possible with a pet suffering from impaired vision. To help pets feel safe and secure, owners can do a few simple things:
- Keep the furniture in the same place – pets will rely on their other senses to navigate their way around
- Don’t leave things lying around that they could bump in to
- Keep their bed and food bowls in the same place
- Use your voice - talk to your pet to let them know where you are
- Give them attention through physical contact, such as stroking
- Make their environment safe by blocking their access to hazards like fireplaces or balconies
- Offer toys that make sounds, such as squeaky balls
Loss of sight in a beloved pet can be upsetting, but with a little care and patience owners can help their pet to adapt, ensuring they continue to have a good quality of life.
For more information on pet health visit www.pdsa.org.uk.