Dogs won’t let us know when they start losing their vision. They let us know when they have lost enough vision to make big visual mistakes. The tricky thing is that dogs with a 20% vision can still fool us into thinking they can see. When that last 20 percent begins to go in both eyes that’s when we typically realize the problem. So what are the most tell all signs that your dog’s vision is failing? We rounded up some of the facts, so you can identify the issue better!
Why is it difficult to pick up on?
One of the reasons we can’t tell right away is their hearing and sense of smell. A dog with worsening vision can still navigate amazingly well by hearing and smell. If they’re familiar with their surroundings they can navigate easily too. Also, if your dog is completely blind in one eye but completely visual in the other eye, it can be very hard to determine if your dog has a vision problem. That is because the seeing eye compensates really well. Many owners are shocked to find out that their dog is blind in one eye. And in many cases the eye has been blind for a long time.
Blind or low-vision dogs can easily fool you into thinking they can see, especially if they are losing vision slowly. They can easily memorize the furniture in your house and know exactly where objects are and avoid them. Also, if you have two dogs, one of which is blind or has low vision, the seeing dog often acts as a “guide dog” for the other one. This can deceive you into thinking your dog can see better than he is actually able when really he is following cues from your seeing dog.
If your dog is diabetic, the risk is very high that your dog will develop blinding diabeticcataracts in both eyes at the same time and lose vision very quickly (literally overnight in many cases!). This typically occurs within the first nine months of being diabetic—and often much sooner. It is also important to monitor your diabetic dog closely for signs of vision loss.
Signs your dog’s vision is failing
- When you toss a treat or a toy they have difficulties finding and fetching it. Important to note, that this sign can be rather misleading in a few cases. As dogs have a much smaller range of colors they can identify. Therefore in some cases they just can’t tell the color of the toy from the color of the surroundings. I have a pretty cool read on what colors dogs can see here.
- Your dog becomes hesitant to jump off the sofa or walk down the stairs. There are a number of similar situations that can signal a failing vision. But generally speaking, if your pup is becoming increasingly hesitant at unfamiliar or even familiar spots, then it’s an indication their vision is not the same.
- They bump into out of place furniture. That’s how you can actually test their sight if you are unsure. Just place a chair in a spot that is usually empty. Get behind it and call your dog. If they bump into it, then they might have a vision problem. See, usually a visually impaired pup will navigate by smell, hearing and memory. So if they bump into a furniture that is out of place, then it indicates that they were trying to navigate by memory, rather by sight.
- Your pup seems stunned in the sunlight. with a severe visual problem dogs often have difficulties with bright sunlight. They may even start picking their face with their paw, thinking something went in their eyes. So it is another easy way to identify a failing sight.
Besides these, there might be other obvious signs that your dog’s vision is failing. A clear indicator is cataract (cloudy eyes) and cherry eyes. Also if your pup has diabetes, it is important to monitor their vision. You can also help prepare your pup with cues, so they can get familiar with going by ear only. Also be sure to warn people to talk to your dog first, then let them sniff their hands. Remember to be patient, and consider putting yourself in your dog’s shoes. It might become increasingly difficult from them navigate, so help them on.
Sources: Nice Doggy, American Kennel Club, Reach Out Rescue