Like humans, pets can start to have vision problems as they get older. Some may even become blind. This process creates a transition period for both pets and owners. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure this transition period goes smoothly.
• Know that your pets will have made a mental map of the house before their vision problems started. This means they won’t totally be lost when their vision fades. While it’s good to keep the layout of the rooms consistent, don’t worry if you need to make changes. The pets’ mental maps will update themselves rather quickly.
• Do not pick up your pets if they appear lost or confused. Putting them somewhere else can make them even more confused about where they are. Unless they are in danger, let them work it out for themselves.
• Try to use verbal cues to help guide them. It’s amazing how quickly they can pick up on directional cues such as “left”, “right”, and “back”.
• Leave food, water, and bedding in the same spot. This creates a safe space for them and helps them work out their mental maps better.
• Invest in safety gates. Without sight, some areas of the house may become dangerous for dogs, such as staircases. Even the most well-adjusted dogs may make a mistake and forget about where steep drop offs or ledges are.
Finally, a pet losing his or her vision does not mean he or she can no longer be active. Blind and visually impaired pets are just as energetic and capable as any other pet. If you feel your pet is losing his or her vision, bring him or her in for a check-up so we can make sure the vision loss is not a result of an underlying issue.