Dog newly blind due to infection. It cleared up, but still blind. How to adapt.

7 yr old border collie. Very sick and on lots of drugs. Let’s say drugs clear up infection but it’s too late for his eyes. Healthy in every other way. What do we need to do to make his life easy as possible?

Right now don’t know if drugs will do the trick, so this is a hypothetical.

We just no experience with this. It’s daunting to say the least.

Animals adapt extremely well to disabilities. Lead him around the house on a leash a few days and I bet he’ll get the idea.

He’s getting around the house pretty well. But I’m assuming walkies and traveling with him are out. When we are at work should he be kennelled? He’s a border collie, he’s not going to adapt well to being caged. When we travel, I’m assuming that putting him in a kennel for couple days would not be good either.

My sister had a dog for many years who, before she got him, was blinded after being hit by a car. Caring for him was no more challenging than caring for a sighted dog; the only concession she made was that he was always leashed if she took him outside.

He may have more vision than you think he does; also remember that dogs’ hearing and sense of smell are much more acute than ours, and your dog will be able to navigate the house just fine.


You could try seeing how well he responds to being let free in the dwelling with the understanding that adaptation might initially be difficult. Perhaps providing hearing/smell-based stimulation when you’re not there would be a good idea.

We have a blind dog. She finds her way around the house and yard just fine. We walk her and travel with her. A lot will depend on your dog and how well they adjust. First up, don’t panic yet. It hasn’t happened and it might not. Second, if it does happen, try to find a canine ophthalmologist. Your dog may need ongoing care to keep their eyes healthy, even though they can’t see. They can also make handy suggestions in terms of behavioral assists.

We use a lot of simple commands with our dog if she’s out and about with us to let her know about obstacles: “step” “up” “down” “wait”. She loves walking, and if she’s on the leash she has a blast. In the yard out back, she has it pretty well mapped. She’ll go out and run and run. She’s a pretty awesome little dog.

ETA: Come back and let us know how it’s going. I can make more suggestions if you need it.

To varying degrees, dogs rely more on their noses than their eyes. They have a much easier time than humans with vision loss. Border Collies are more visual than most though.

I definitely would not start caging him. That would be hell for a BC. He’s not going to suddenly start playing with matches.

And don’t be afraid to take him out on a leash. Just agree as a family on some simple warning words like Sunny Daze suggested. And use a short leash,not one of those stretchy fishing reels. After all, dogs take their blind owners for walks all the time. :wink:

We adopted a young, blind Chocolate Lab a few years ago. He has cataracts in both eyes, which means he can discern shadows, so he (usually) doesn’t bump into walls, except at night.
He’s an AWESOME dog.
If you didn’t know he was blind, his behavior wouldn’t give it away. He runs up and down the stairs. We go for walks, and he does really well. I sometimes have to give him a tug if he is barreling towards an obstacle.
He will even play fetch - he listens for the stick to fall, and then runs over and sniffs for it until he finds it.
Since we filled in the damn pool, he is allowed out back without supervision, at least for short periods.
He sleeps on the carpet in the bedroom, and wakes me up in the morning (how does he know…) by sticking his cold nose in my back.

Here he is.

Our last dog, Shadow, was a Corgi / Schipperke mix, who developed glaucoma when she was about 5. By the time we discovered it, she was already blind in one eye. She was then on glaucoma meds for several years, until she finally went blind in the other eye, as well.

She still got around well, though the fact that her sight loss was gradual may have come into play there. She’d occasionally get turned around in the house, or in the yard (we have a small, fenced-in yard), but generally speaking, she almost always seemed to know exactly where she was. As a kindness to her, we didn’t rearrange the furniture in the house.

One piece of advice to the OP: look for any place in the house where there might be a drop-off, or a way that your dog, if he were to get a little disoriented, might accidentally take a fall off of something. Shadow once took a scary fall off of our back porch, when she turned right (to go down the stairs) about 3 feet too early, and somehow squeezed under a railing. We blocked off that opening after that, but it was a scary moment.

It’s hard to imagine being blind yourself, but for a dog that’s only the third most-needed sense. If his hearing and smell are okay, he’ll be okay too.

Pictures, pictures. Let’s see if this works. One floof dog, coming up.

Here’s something that may make you feel better. I’ve had two cats who went blind. They didn’t seem to understand that something was wrong with them, they just thought it was dark. For example, one of the cats had a habit of sneaking into the kitchen trash when it was dark. After she was blind she started doing it during the day. She would look so surprised when I caught her at it!

Both cats were very happy, and still enjoyed their lives.

On behalf of all of us including Diggewam and the puppers, thanks for everyone’s input.
It’s been hard for us to watch him bump into things all the time, but the good news is that he did that sometimes even when he could see, when he was busy chasing cats.

We are just hoping we figure out what happened and the other symptoms go away soon. Poor baby.

If it continues, there are aids he can wear, like this. The idea is similar to the stick that blind people use. It’s a harness with a bumper out in front of it that would give the dog a signal that he’s approaching an object.

The ophthalmologist we saw recommended it only for dogs that were very tentative and uncomfortable moving around. It’s one more thing for him to get used to, so I would hold off unless he’s really unable to adapt.

I hope he feels better soon.

My aunt’s dog went blind when she was about 8, and now she’s 11. She has adapted great! And there’s steps to go outside. Sometimes she runs into stuff with her nose but she knows to 1) try finding the right place with her nose 2) don’t freak out when her nose finds the wrong thing.

Doggies are so resilient :slight_smile:

That’s actually kind of cool. We were just saying how he needs a unicorn horn to make him even more fabulous, but this would be much safer. I’m sure he’ll adapt; we haven’t made a lot of changes to the house or yard in the 6 years he’s lived here.

update: Dude was just out in 100% sun and pupils did not dilate, so I assume that he’s pretty freaking blind. Plus side, I took him out this morning for very mild walkies and he did pretty well. Not too hobbly and OK greeting new people, so his confidence is still around. He’s eating a little more and he even pooped twice.

He even got me out of a Kenny Chesney concert today.

I had the genius idea to leave him on a leash around the house so he stops ramming things and he can relearn the surroundings. Still don’t know what’s wrong with him, still waiting on results of one test but all in all, not bad.

Still don’t know if he can be fulfilled, but we are trying it. Below is pic from happier days.

Google Photos

Sounds like he’s doing better, all things considered. He’s a very handsome boy. I hope he continues to improve.

First response, and bingo. Bam. Done. Correct.

In bright light the pupils should constrict, not dilate.

A friend with a blind dog learned through a support group to train the dog to recognize a specific cologne as “danger”. They then sprayed the cologne at the top of stairs and other danger zones.

Oh, and yeah, there are support groups for the owners of blind pets.