Helping your pet adjust to blindness

If you are a pet owner and you learn that your beloved pet has gone blind, it can be frightening and somewhat overwhelming. Of course the first issue is safety.

You, as the pet’s parent, need to learn quickly about things to do in order to make your pet’s life as safe and comfortable as possible for them. You are now the owner of a “special needs” pet so there are some adjustments that need to be made in your home and in your pet’s daily routine.

Here are a few tips that will help you create a safer home for your blind pet:

1.) Shorten the leash. I learned very quickly that my dog Sweetie Pie will fall right off the curb if I let her get too close to the edge. Left on a long leash, she might also bump into tree trunks or other walkers. So shorten that leash and keep your pet close to you.

2.) Watch out under-foot. Until your pet gets used to being blind, they are not going to get out of your way when you walk towards them (like they used to). So keep a vigilant watch for where you’re walking, especially if you have a small pet who could get crunched. And when you go visiting, make sure to alert other people about the need to watch out for your blind pet.

3.) Confine your pet to familiar surroundings. Try to avoid rearranging the furniture. Take your pet on familiar walks to familiar places. Take about three months to allow your pet to adjust to being blind… in places where they feel safe and familiar.

4.) Soften sharp edges. I have a wrought-iron decorative banister that is positioned right in the middle of the major hallway from kitchen to living room. After I saw Sweetie Pie bonk into it the first time, I wrapped the banister with a soft fiber-filled pillow sham. She still bonks into it, but now it’s more like a soft thud… and it doesn’t look too weird in my already eclectic home.

5.) Talk to your pet. Unless your pet is deaf as well as blind, talking to your pet will help them find their way. For example, my blind dog Sweetie Pie has been trained to walk towards me when she hears “This way, Sweetie Pie… This way!”

Caring for a blind pet requires patience and diligence… but it does get easier with practice.

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