We never want our pets to suffer, but sometimes their health will change to the point where we have to accept that our pets need some more help. One of the most common areas where aging pets can need support and treatment is their vision. It’s common for pets to have failing vision as they get older, and they can even go blind without you knowing it. If you’re wondering if your pet has vision problems, take a look below to see just what’s going on!
Symptoms of pet vision problems
As you already know, every pet is going to act a little different from another, but there are some common traits that vets and other experts see in pets, signaling that they’re starting to struggle with their vision. Some of the behaviors to watch out for include:
- Reluctance to jump off couches or out of cars: If your pet normally loves to jump onto and off of things or into the car and out of the car, this may be a sign that your pet is starting to struggle with their vision. It might be mild at first, just showing a little bit of hesitation. Over time, though, this can grow into a reluctance and even a refusal. Your pet isn’t able to understand how they can jump safely from Point A to Point B because they can’t see Point B well enough to do a risk assessment!
- Discomfort going anywhere new: As your pet’s vision starts to fade, they’ll rely more and more on their sense of smell. If your pet is smelling something new and thinks that they are in a new area, they may not want to explore much. This is a totally foreign area to their nose, and their eyes won’t be dependable enough for them to scope out any kind of potential threat or danger. They could avoid new places to protect themselves.
- Bumping into walls: This is an obvious sign, of course, but it can be subtle at first. Perhaps they nick a corner here and then turn too sharply in another place. They’ll seemingly “forget” where the turns are in hallways or even how many stairs are in a staircase. It can seem as though they’re clumsy at first. This will worsen to the point where they are hitting walls or running into door frames, etc. It may cause them to be anxious about being away from you as they move throughout the house.
- Trouble finding toys, food, etc.: While your pet will rely on their other senses, particularly their nose, they might struggle to locate their bowls or toys. They’ll sniff and search out their scents but may have difficulty actually getting hold of them even when they are close by. This is often one of the most common signs of vision problems that pet parents notice. This is especially so if they are digging through toys to find the right one, only to discover that the right one was off to the side and not in the pile they were searching through.
- Lack of eye contact: If your pet typically holds eye contact with you while you’re eating or talking to them, you may notice them looking off to the side or their eyes moving around in confusion as they try to locate your voice. This can often be distressing to pet parents since it’s an obvious sign that their pet is struggling!
Common aging vision problems in pets
So, what causes vision problems in pets, anyway? Most of the issues that pop up do tend to be related to aging. The most common causes include:
- Cataracts: This is when the lens gets cloudy and makes everything seem blurry or filmy. These can often be removed in pets by surgery, just like they can be in humans, or sometimes inflammation may be managed with medication.
- Macular degeneration: This is just a fancy term for the eye starting to break down in its communication signals between the eye and the brain. In humans, this would lead to requiring reading glasses. In pets, it means difficulty orienting themselves around spaces.
- Glaucoma: This is a disease that causes damage to your pet’s optic nerve. It can come on at any point in their life. It causes blurred vision and builds up pressure in the eye. This can set it in at any point and doesn’t always have warning symptoms in humans. It’s much the same in dogs.
- Diabetes: If your pet is diabetic, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels in the retina. This can create blurry vision, or it can even stop blood flow to their eye, or cause cataracts.
- Hypertension: This acts similarly to diabetes. High blood pressure can damage the eye’s blood vessels and can make it challenging for your pet to make out shapes and other things in their direct line of vision.
Other common causes of vision issues
There are also some other less common reasons for your pet to be struggling with their vision. Untreated eye infections can lead to blurry vision or even partial or complete blindness. It depends on how untreated it is and how long it goes undetected.
Some pets also have genetic predispositions to blindness, either early in life or later in life. Certain breeds and even certain genetic lines can experience blindness. Your vet and/or a breeder can help provide information on this likelihood.
It’s important to remember that your pet having vision problems doesn’t have to be a life-changing disaster. Some conditions can be treated and monitored, and some can’t. Getting a vet’s opinion on what’s going on is a good idea, and they’ll often help you make adjustments to your pet’s lifestyle in order to make them more comfortable if their vision fades.
Your pet is still your loving furry family member that just needs a little bit of help as they start to get older and have their vision fade. It helps to focus on what you can do to keep your pet’s day-to-day life as unchanged as possible.