Taking excellent care of our pets includes not only providing them with their basic needs but also recognizing when something is wrong and taking action to resolve it. This is best accomplished by being aware of various physical signs that may seem subtle, but that indicate the existence of a health condition which makes your pet uncomfortable in some way. One such health condition is vision loss.
Vision Loss in Pets
Vision loss in pets can occur no matter their age, and it can cause discomfort, stress, and other issues for the pet. When it occurs in younger pets, vision loss is usually the result of some sort of infection or hereditary disease. When it occurs in older pets, vision loss is usually just a natural degeneration. Either way, it is important to understand when it is occurring so that you can take action to halt it if possible, or at least help your pet to better cope with it. This understanding begins with knowing the signs of vision loss in pets.
First of all, it’s important to understand that our pet’s vision naturally differs from our own vision. Cats, for example, can see quite wonderfully at night when all the world looks dark to us, and dogs cannot see the same range of colors we can see. This means that it can be difficult to detect vision loss or other vision issues in a pet if one is simply trying to compare their pet’s vision to their own. However, there are some basic signs one can look for:
- Know what vision abilities are normal for your pet. Obviously, this is best done before your pet has developed any sort of vision issues so that you can determine a basic normal for them. One way to accomplish this is to have someone hold your pet while you start out far away with a favorite toy or treat, and then slowly walk toward them. See how close you come to them before they recognize the toy or the treat. You will want to do this several times to confirm the distance. Another way to accomplish this is by noticing when your pet recognizes someone they know, and how close that person is when they recognize them. In the future, you will be able to use this established normal to determine whether they are no longer able to see quite as far as they once could.
- Take a look at your pet’s eyes. While a degree of fuzziness in your pet’s eyes may be nothing to worry about, it can also be a sign of vision loss and it warrants a veterinary examination.
- Watch your pet at night. If a pet is experiencing any sort of vision loss, their night vision is often one of the first things they lose. You can test their night vision by moving around some furniture (so that it’s not where they expect it to be) and then turn off all the lights. Once you are yourself used to the darkness, call to your pet and see if they can navigate around the furniture because they see it, or if they bump into it because they cannot see it well.
- Determine whether your pet is recognizing food by smell before they are recognizing it by sight. One obvious sign of vision loss in a pet is when the pet cannot determine that food is food until they can smell it.
If you suspect that your pet may be suffering from any degree of vision loss, it is important to have them examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. In some cases, vision loss in pets is a normal part of aging and there is not much one can do about it except assist their pet in better navigating their world. In other cases, vision loss in pets is a sign of some other health condition that needs to be addressed and can be slowed, halted or reversed once this other health condition is resolved. Pet eye care is an important service provided by veterinarians to help pets achieve and maintain even better overall health.