Tips to Make Life with a Blind Pet Easier

blind dog

The most common reason for blindness in pets is old age, but genetic factors and conditions like glaucoma could leave your pet blind or vision-impaired at any age. While this may be heartbreaking for pet owners and frustrating for pets, blind cats and dogs can still have a great quality of life.

These tips can make things a bit easier for both you and your pet!

 

Seek Treatment

First thing’s first: if there’s anyway to restore some of your pet’s vision, you’ll want to look into those options as soon as possible.

Many older dogs and cats lose their eyesight due to cataracts, which can often be removed in a relatively common procedure.

Another common cause of pet blindness is glaucoma, a condition that causes fluid buildup in the eye, resulting in pressure on the optic nerve. This pressure can quickly cause permanent blindness, so it’s important to act immediately if you notice signs of glaucoma. Unfortunately, your pet can’t tell you when she’s in pain or losing vision, so you’ll need to notice external symptoms. If you see any swelling of the eye, bring your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Of course, not all causes of blindness can be reversed. So if you find yourself with a permanently blind or vision-impaired pet, start implementing the following tips.

 

Use Bells for Other Pets

Cats and dogs are extremely resilient, and they learn to depend on their other senses fairly quickly. Even so, they can startle more easily and appreciate auditory signals.

Adding a small bell to the collars of other pets will help alert your blind pet and prevent unnecessary startle responses, which can sometimes result in aggression. If your dog or cat still has excellent hearing, they may not need this crutch at all.

But for older pets whose ears aren’t quite as sensitive, tools like this can greatly reduce their overall stress level. This trick is also useful if you have a particularly stealthy pet that doesn’t make a lot of noise otherwise.

 

Teach Kids and Strangers How to Interact with Your Pet

Pets usually maintain their same temperament after losing their vision, but, as noted above, they’re more likely to have aggressive outbursts as a result of being startled. Before you touch your blind pet unexpectedly, make them aware of your presence with a little noise. Usually, just saying their name allows them to gauge your location.

Make sure that your guests know to do the same, and give your pet a chance to sniff any newcomers to recognize their scent and voice.

It’s especially important to teach small children how to engage with your pet. Kids are usually so excited to play that they don’t realize how their behaviors could be read as threatening by your dog or cat. Make sure that they know not to surprise your pet, get in their face, or pull on fur, tails, and ears.

Depending on the age and behavior of the child and the temperment of your pet, it’s sometimes best to keep them completely apart. The last thing you want is for your pet to resort to biting.

 

Use Tactile Signals like Textured Matts

Blind pets are more prone to stumble around stairs and step-downs. Placing a floor mat of some kind in front of potentially hazardous areas like these can be a huge help.

Your pet will recognize the different texture on her paws and realize that she’s close to the step before she loses her footing.

 

Keep Your Environment as Similar as Possible

With a little time, most pets learn where the furniture and walls are without much help. But major rearrangements can leave them bumping into things for weeks. Try to keep things in the same place as much as possible.

When you do need to change things up or when you’re in a new environment, help your pet out by talking them on a couple of leashed walks through the new layout.

Most cats probably won’t be receptive to a leash, but their whiskers will help them sense nearby objects and adapt quickly anyway.

 

Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

A few simple commands can make life a lot easier for your pet. While this tip may not work for cats, most dogs learn their new “tricks” with consistent practice.

Commands like “wait” are great for warning them when they are about to bump into something. And “Up” and “down” will help them with things like getting in and out of cars.

If they aren’t picking up on these commands, don’t sweat it too much. If they’re adapting to their new life easily, they might not even need them.

Most animals adjust to losing their eyesight remarkably well, but those that lose vision suddenly may need a little more help learning how to navigate their world.

The simple measures above go a long way towards making your pet comfortable, secure, and well-adapted to life without vision!

If you are worried about your pet’s eyesight don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment.

 

Parvo Season is Coming: Here’s What You Need to Know

labribull

If you’ve ever seen a dog struggle through parvovirus, then you know that it’s a truly terrible and potentially fatal disease. With spring on the horizon, parvo season is about to begin, and it’s imperative that your pet is protected.

Proper prevention, quick recognition of the symptoms, and early treatment can mean the difference between life and death for your dog. Here’s what you need to know to give your pet the best chance against parvo:

 

Know the Symptoms

Parvo can cause symptoms like lethargy, fever or low body temperature, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in favorite activities. But the most telling symptoms are consistent vomiting and diarrhea.

Most dog owners have helped their pets through harmless bouts of these stomach issues before, but parvo-related vomiting and diarrhea are something altogether different.

Dogs with parvo often produce deep brown to black diarrhea that is completely liquid in nature and often contains blood. Parvo-related vomit is usually yellowish in color and has a foamy, milky, or slimy texture. Both are extremely foul-smelling.

 

Early Treatment is Key

If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, act swiftly. Dogs— especially puppies— with parvo rarely survive if they are left untreated. However, professional treatment with a vet bumps the survival rate to around 70% for adult dogs and somewhat less for puppies.

The sooner they are seen, the better the odds for survival. Because parvo is a virus and not a bacteria, no real cure exists. Parvo-infected dogs usually refuse to eat or drink, so treatment involves IV nutritional therapy and fluids to prevent dehydration and sometimes medications to curb vomiting and diarrhea. Your pet will usually need to stay at the vet or animal hospital for several days before he begins to recover.

Remember, parvo symptoms appear suddenly, and the disease can become fatal quickly, especially for puppies. If you even suspect that your dog might have parvo, call your vet immediately.

 

Vaccines are Life-Saving

The best way to prevent parvo is to vaccinate your pet on schedule. For most puppies, this means vaccines should begin at 6-8 weeks and boosters should be administered according to your vet’s recommendations.

When adopting older dogs, it’s still important to make sure they’ve had a full round of parvo vaccines. Their immune system might be more mature, but this doesn’t make them totally immune to parvo or other diseases.

No matter how busy your schedule or how tight your budget, don’t neglect to get your pet’s shots on time. Parvo treatment is grueling and expensive. Vaccines are quick, cheap, and effective.

 

Parvo Hides in the Soil

You may think that your dog can only catch parvo if she’s exposed to another infected dog. The truth is the parvovirus is extremely resilient and can live in the soil and on surfaces for several years. So your pup can catch it even if she’s never been anywhere near a sick animal.  

In fact, it’s so tough to kill that puppies shouldn’t even enter homes where a dog has had parvo within the last two years.

For these reasons, some pet parents mistake parvo for poisoning or a simple upset stomach and delay getting proper treatment. Remember, even if you pup hasn’t been exposed to infected dogs or feces, those symptoms could still be parvo. Don’t wait to get help.

 

Follow Dog Park Rules

Most dog parks don’t allow any puppies under two to four months of age. It might be tempting to ignore those rules— after all, what’s cuter than a puppy romping around with a pack of new friends? But those guidelines exist to protect the health of your furry friend.

With hundreds or even thousands of dogs roaming through the area every year, dog parks are a breeding ground for parvo and other diseases like distemper and bordetella. Puppies need time for their vaccines to take effect and for their immune systems to mature before they can safely be exposed to these pathogens.

It’s best to avoid similar environments like kennels, doggy daycares, parks, and pet stores until your vet has given you the green light.

 

It’s Most Common in Spring and Summer

Dogs can contract parvo at any time, but the disease is most common in the spring and summer months. Take extra precautions around this time to keep puppies and unvaccinated dogs away from infected animals and public areas like parks.

Parvovirus is a horrible disease, but the good news is it’s easily preventable. Follow proper vaccine schedules and keep young puppies away from high-risk areas, and you’ll likely never have to deal with it at all.

And if you do notice parvo symptoms, remember that acting quickly will give your dog his or her best chance at survival. Schedule an appointment with Crossroads Animal Clinic if you’re worried your furry friend might need their parvo shots.

Worried about your pets vaccinations? Schedule an appointment with Crossroads Animal Clinic.