10 Behavioral Signs of Vision Loss in Dogs

Vision loss is a common problem in dogs, especially as they age. It can be caused by various factors, such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal degeneration, trauma, infection, or cancer. Vision loss can affect your dog’s quality of life and make them more vulnerable to accidents and injuries. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs of vision loss in dogs and seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

behavioral signs of vision loss in dogs

Here are 10 behavioral signs of vision loss in dogs that you should watch out for:

1. Bumping Into Objects

One of the most obvious signs of vision loss in dogs is bumping into furniture, walls, doors, or other objects. Your dog may seem confused or disoriented in familiar surroundings and have trouble navigating around obstacles. They may also show signs of fear or anxiety when encountering new or unfamiliar objects.

2. Walking the Perimeter of Rooms

Another sign of vision loss in dogs is walking along the edges of rooms or following the walls. This is a way for your dog to use their sense of touch and smell to orient themselves and avoid bumping into things. Your dog may also stick close to you or other familiar people or animals for guidance and reassurance.

3. Refusing to Go Down a Flight of Stairs

If your dog is losing its sight, they may be reluctant or unable to go down a flight of stairs. This is because they cannot see the depth or distance of the steps and may fear falling or hurting themselves. You may notice your dog hesitating, whining, or barking at the top of the stairs, or trying to find another way down.

4. Refusing to Go on Walks

Going on walks is usually a fun and enjoyable activity for dogs, but not if they are suffering from vision loss. Your dog may refuse to go on walks or show signs of stress or discomfort during walks. They may pull on the leash, stop frequently, or try to go back home. They may also be more easily startled or scared by noises, movements, or unfamiliar people or animals.

5. Sniffing a Lot on Walks

While sniffing is a normal behavior for dogs, it may indicate vision loss if your dog does it excessively or constantly on walks. Your dog may rely more on their sense of smell to explore their environment and find their way around. They may also sniff more to compensate for the lack of visual stimulation and to calm themselves down.

behavioral signs of vision loss in dogs

6. Pricking the Ears When a Ball is Tossed

Playing fetch is a fun game for dogs, but it requires good vision to track and catch the ball. If your dog is losing its sight, they may have difficulty seeing the ball or following its trajectory. You may notice your dog pricking their ears, tilting their head, or squinting their eyes when you toss the ball. They may also miss the ball, run past it, or lose interest in the game.

7. Sniffing Prior to Eating Treats

Another sign of vision loss in dogs is sniffing before eating treats. Your dog may not be able to see the treats clearly or locate them easily. They may use their nose to find the treats and confirm that they are edible and safe. They may also take longer to eat the treats or drop them on the floor.

8. A High-Stepping Gait

A high-stepping gait is a way for your dog to lift their paws higher than normal when walking or running. This is a sign of vision loss in dogs because it helps them avoid tripping or stepping on something that they cannot see. Your dog may also have a stiff or awkward posture or movement when walking or running.

9. Depending on Another Dog

If you have more than one dog, you may notice that your dog with vision loss depends on another dog for guidance and support. Your dog may follow the other dog closely, copy their actions, or stay near them at all times. The other dog may act as a leader, protector, or companion for your dog with vision loss.

10. Becoming Clingy

The last sign of vision loss in dogs is becoming clingy or needy. Your dog may seek more attention, affection, or comfort from you or other familiar people or animals. They may follow you around, cuddle with you, or sleep next to you. They may also become more vocal, such as barking, whining, or howling, to communicate their needs or feelings.

behavioral signs of vision loss in dogs

If you notice any of these behavioral signs of vision loss in dogs, you should take your dog to the vet for a thorough eye exam and diagnosis. Depending on the cause and severity of the vision loss, your vet may recommend various treatments, such as medication, surgery, or eye drops. You should also make some adjustments to your home and lifestyle to make your dog more comfortable and safe, such as:

  • Providing adequate lighting and avoiding sudden changes in brightness
  • Keeping the furniture and objects in the same place and avoiding clutter
  • Using contrasting colors and textures to mark different areas or items
  • Providing ramps, mats, or carpets to help your dog with stairs or slippery surfaces
  • Using sound cues, such as bells, whistles, or clickers, to guide your dog or get their attention
  • Using verbal commands, hand signals, or touch to communicate with your dog
  • Providing toys, treats, or puzzles that stimulate your dog’s other senses
  • Giving your dog plenty of love, praise, and reassurance

Vision loss in dogs can be challenging, but it does not mean that your dog cannot have a happy and fulfilling life. With proper care, treatment, and support, your dog can adapt to their new situation and enjoy their time with you and their furry friends.

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