How to Care for My Blind Pet

Blind dogs, cats and rabbits can live vigorous and joyful lives. An animal’s senses of hearing and smell are so much better than ours that when they are in a familiar environment it is often hard to tell that he or she is blind. Here are some hints and precautions to make their lives easier and safer.

  • Avoid changing your pet’s environment. But if you do move furniture or move into a new house, you may find it takes several weeks for your pet to memorize and familiarize itself with the new surroundings.
  • Teach your pet to walk on a harness or lead so that it can be exercised safely. Start using more voice commands to help him or her know when to slow down or be careful.
  • Fence in a small area of the yard for them and keep the environment constant.
  • If you have a swimming pool, you may want to fence it in so your pet cannot fall in. Otherwise, blind pets should not be left unattended around pools. Filling the pool more will make it easier for them to climb out if they do fall in.
  • Encourage them to use their other senses to compensate for vision loss.
    • Buy toys that are noisy (that have a bell or a rattle) or ones that have a recognizable odor.
    • Apply perfume on legs of furniture or the edges of stairs to help them know where these objects are located.
    • Get another companion animal that your blind pet can follow around, using its senses of hearing and smell.
  • If your dog or cat is blind due to cataracts, it is a good idea to observe their eyes daily for changes that could indicate the onset of glaucoma or uveitis (inflammation), conditions which can be very painful for your pet. These changes might include reddening of the white of the eye, an increase in the size of the eye, pawing at or rubbing the eyes and change in position of the cataract.
  • Encourage exercise, whether in a fenced yard or on a leash, to prevent excessive weight gain.
  • Do not change the placement of the bowls of food and water, if you do, try to help them learn where the new place is.
  • Some behavior changes (aggression, depression, fear, etc.) can be observed with sudden blindness. Try to avoid stressing or scaring the pet. Inform the family members (especially children) of the new condition and educate them to alert the pet with soothing words or sounds before petting or grabbing the animal.