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Anyone here with a blind dog?

(22 Posts)
Mellifera Fri 23-Oct-15 14:31:46

Our 11 yo Cairn has a rare progressive eye disease, recently diagnosed. The pressure in her eyes is very high, but not yet painful. It could spike any time, and we have emergency meds for that, and she is on 5 times drops a day to try and keep the pressure under control.

Pressure is currently 29/30 and from 35 it's painful. I'm sure she had a spike already but we didn't know what was wrong with her.

Ultimately, there is no cure, if it starts being painful she will lose sight completely - she has about 5% left. The only way to get her painfree then is to remove the eyes.

I struggle with the whole thing and it is fairly recently diagnosed. We knew her sight was going, but 5% we would not have guessed because she is still very playful, bouncy and happy.

Has anyone got an older dog who lost sight? How did they cope? It took our dog a while to cope, and looking back I know when the loss happened, she was almost depressed, very slow, suddenly very 'old'. She seems to have adjusted and is fine now.
Will she adjust to being blind?

We have frequent check ups at the dog opthalmologist now, to keep an eye on the pressure, but after 3 weeks on drops the pressure didn't really go down (30 to 29, both eyes). Every time I go now I'll be possibly facing a decision about surgery.

Anyone with advice?

LimeJellyHead Sat 24-Oct-15 09:48:14

Awww, big hugs to you both. But yes, she will adjust. Dogs are so resilient. Think how you hardly knew she was already down to only 5% vision... she coped and you could hardly tell smile

Mind you there is a big difference from 5% to no vision. I should think she will have quite a steep adjustment curve if she does lose her eyes but she will be so glad to be pain free and she will soon get her bearings again.

One of our oldies has very little sight. We make sure everything in the house stays in it's place and she makes her way round everything really well. Her main problem is the stairs. She is very tentative to get going but once she is off she does it fine. On walks we keep her on her lead and using the lead I gently guide her around anything she might be about to collide with. To find us at home she uses her sense of smell. She'll have her nose to the ground and set off until she bumps into you, then she'll smell you and decide if you were who she was looking for or not (usually she is looking for her Daddy, not me, so I get dismissed, lol).

Oh, did you see that little dog who did the rounds on youtube/social media who had a man made 'halo' round her head to stop her bumping in things. Clever idea. I can try to find the video for you if you didn't see it.

Costacoffeeplease Sat 24-Oct-15 10:00:49

I had two blind dogs at the same time, one suddenly went blind overnight due to a brain tumour, and the other gradually lost his sight due to old age (we lost both last year, one at 6, the other at 17/18)

I panicked a bit to start with but they both coped brilliantly and most of the time you'd never have known they had a problem at all. Sight is not as important to dogs as to humans, their sense of smell is more important so I wouldn't worry about the practicalities too much, the pain would be more of a concern really

Mellifera Sat 24-Oct-15 13:21:07

Thank you both.

Lime, we did notice straight after she was diagnosed, as we put an ikea cupboard and left it in the middle of the kitchen, she almost collided with it.

The stairs she is fine with atm, but she did fall down once, before we knew what's going on.

The normal vet didn't diagnose it, we took her several times, insisting something was wrong, but she was so happy, bouncy, that we weren't taken seriously. Only after the glaucoma was visible, the vet then referred us to the specialist.

She's got ocular melanosis with glaucoma, and must have had a few pressure spikes over 35 already. Poor thing. I can only say I'm proud of her not to have bitten someone, the pain must have been awful. Vet diagnosed a tummy bug due to her vomiting.

Costacoffee, it's good to hear that your dogs coped. I'm fairly certain she will cope too, but it is hard because I see how much sight is left. Basically she is still living a normal life, off the lead, greeting other dogs, etc.
The only hiccups are stuff lying around which she falls over and the steps into the house and onto the patio. Sometimes she misses a step, and has fallen on her chin a few times.

Her sense of smell is very good, and her hearing excellent, maybe it has sharpened to make up for sight.

Unfortunately this morning she was sick, we'll keep a close eye on her if she displays any pain symptoms, and we can ring the specialist any time to get her seen.

Mellifera Mon 14-Mar-16 19:09:18

It's decision time soon. Even though she has some eyesight left, her eye pressure is on maximum meds and at the next check up, we may have to decide.
Both eyes out at once? Or pay for 2 ops? That would mean two GA, she is 12.
Go for an injection (genmCidine or something, sp?) to kill the optic nerve, not always 100% successful, but she would keep her eyes.
Argh, poor sweetie.

Mellifera Mon 14-Mar-16 19:11:46

Ps her eyesight has got poorer, she can't go down stairs, we carry her. Stairgate is ordered so she can't go upstairs when nobody is in. She fell down the whole length of the stairs on Saturday sad

Lokibuddyboo Tue 15-Mar-16 04:18:45

Most dogs learn to cope with the loss of sight as they rely more on their sense of smell. And along as you don't move furniture around to much the learn to navigate the home quite well by memory.
My only experience of a blind dog is a dog my father's had who was born blind in one eye and deaf.
She lost sight in her other eye when she was about 4 years old and she didn't cope well at all she ending up having to be pts as being deaf and going totally blind she went a little crazy and would constantly spin around in circles all day hitting her head on walls and furniture while spinning in tight circles and she started to snap at everyone if they went near her and she didnt smell or sense them first.
She was a loving little dog but after losing her sight and going crazy because of it, her quality of life was just not there anymore.

TaintForTheLikesOfWe Tue 15-Mar-16 04:40:16

A year ago this month I had my almost 16yo JRT X Collie PTS with heart failure. When he was 12 he went blind in the space of a week (opthalmologist said most likely a stroke although there were no other stroke signs). At first he was a bit distressed but he quickly learned his way round and we wrapped anything he could get hurt on in the garden, fenced some bits off and eventually you would have to look hard to know he couldn't see. He would walk with his nose down a bit and his whiskers forward like the Shrewbot. At first, if he walked in to things it would upset him and he would stand still and look miserable so we just encouraged him lots and soon he would knock into things and they would go flying and he didn't worry so much. We carried on walking him on a tight lead a/when out and he loved it as he trusted us to not let him bump into stuff and that was the only time he could run, everything else was a brisk walk maximum but mainly feeling along unless he was 100% sure of where is was. In your shoes I would have his eyes removed in a heartbeat. Take some basic measures for the dogs welfare (our garden was a mess of bubblewrap including the hitch on the trailer) but the nose is giving loads of information anyway. We also bought him a Buster Cube (which is in pride of place on a shelf now sadly) that he got to play with twice a day. Good luck.

Mellifera Tue 15-Mar-16 11:07:56

Loki, I hope she copes better than your dad's dog. Her hearing is excellent, thank God. She has coped well with the initial loss of sight, so well we didn't know she could hardly see.
But with her rising eye pressure comes definite blindness. Seeing her fall down the stairs was horrible.
Stairgate arrived and is in place, at least she can't go up to her bed in our bedroom during the day like she used to when I'm out. I was scared to come home finding her in a heap at the bottom of the stairs.

Taint it's good to know your dog had 4 year left after going blind.
Our Schnuffi has no other health issues, so if she copes well she could have a few years with good quality of life left.

Bubble wrapping is a good idea. Our garden is a mess anyway but she loves pottering around.
Luckily we have a huge open space near our house where she can run without lead, and even through the woods she manages, following me.
Only problem are dogs that come running at speed, she was completely scared and growled. Hopefully I can introduce a word to warn her beforehand.
Also introduced words for up and down curbs, seems to work.

Thanks for your advice.

Mellifera Tue 15-Mar-16 11:10:42

Another pic

MetalMidget Tue 15-Mar-16 22:05:51

I once stayed at a holiday cottage where the owner (who lived in the neighbouring farm house) had a blind Jack Russell. He was lovely, very affectionate, and merrily trotted about.

The most surreal thing was the one morning we spotted him walking across the field, proud as punch, with a dead rabbit in his mouth! Apparently the owner's cats would do the hunting, then the Jack Russell would smugly parade around with the prize!

MetalMidget Tue 15-Mar-16 22:06:44

(He'd been blind for seven years, by the way, he was fifteen when we saw him!)

Mellifera Sat 23-Apr-16 12:23:08

Update
Our dog's eye pressure got very high in the last two weeks. The last bit of her sight went over the last few weeks. She started to be disorientated in the house and on her regular walks.
Specialist vet measured on Wednesday, it was over 65. Disorientation due to pain, and her eyes were taken out on Thursday.
We are still a bit traumatised by her look, especially the children. They shaved off a lot more fur than we expected. Until it grows back she will look grim.

But: she is already navigating her way around the house, has not bumped into any walls yet and seems generally happier than before, eating well and hoovering up the kitchen crumbs in her normal fashion.

I think we will need longer to adjust than her. I'm not looking forward to hear comments from other dog walkers. A few friends have asked why we don't put her to sleep. I always replied that the vets wouldn't consider it, as she can still have a few years of happy, healthy life. Her bloodwork came back completely normal, nothing wrong with her except that she's blind. And she was blind before they took the eyes out, and now she's blind and not in pain anymore.

Lokibuddyboo Sun 24-Apr-16 00:53:09

I'm glad she's coping well and is now pain free.
Most dogs do adjust quite quickly, my father's dog was an exception I think, the combination of being already deaf and alittle crazy/ highly strung collie and then going fully blind just pushed her over the edge.
After we had her a few weeks and found out she was deaf ( we knew she was blind in one eye when we got her) we contacted her breeder and found out she was the result of an accidental mating and that her mother and father were not only brother and sister but also both were blue merle collies. Not a good combination of genes, but we loved her all the same and she had a good 4 years.

emotionsecho Sun 24-Apr-16 01:15:05

We had a dog who went blind and had to have both eyes removed and they were 100% better without the eyes than when the eyesight was going. I think the improvement was due to there being no pain once the eyes were removed and a tendency to over rely on the inaccurate sight/information they had from the failing eyes. Once the stitches were out and it was all healed and the hair regrew no one could tell that they were blind and often didn't believe us.

I was in awe of how the dog navigated their way around, up and down stairs, initially they would follow close behind us listening to our footsteps and in the early days we would talk and call a lot so they could head for our voice, but in a very short space of time they would wander in and out of the house, round the garden, etc.

I'm sure your dog will amaze you with how well they adapt and cope, our vet said the driving force with ours was their love of us and their overwhelming desire to be with us.

Good luck to all of you. flowers

tabulahrasa Sun 24-Apr-16 10:34:12

I've not had a blind dog, but I have had one who had one eye out, so with respect to that...

He recovered really quickly, he was literally fine within days and yes it looks much less grim as it starts to heal and the fur grows back.

Abraid2 Sun 24-Apr-16 10:40:16

We rehomed an elderly blind terrier, who was nearly 10 when she came to us.

It is hard. She doesn't know our area and walking can be a bit of a trial--we have to stick to the same, flat, routes. She is nervous of traffic.

TBH we only did it because she was a deceased family member's pet. She was also very overweight and we think she has had some strokes. We have got her weight down. She seems to be getting to grips with her garden, at last, but her strokes have possibly made her a bit senile and seems to forget where things are.

I think it is easier if the dog goes blind in its original and familiar surroundings. She was quite confident in her old, very large garden. But we didn't want her to have to go to a rehoming centre so we took her and her 12-year-old mother to live with us and our existing young dog.

Mellifera Sun 24-Apr-16 14:44:35

Thanks for your replies.

Yes, she relies a lot on our voices, follows us and we guide her. Thankfully she was very well trained anyway, knows commands like stop, wait, curb up/down. She's a bit slow outside yet, and we haven't mastered the steps to the garden yet, but I'm sure it will all be fine.

She navigates ok on the ground floor, and we carry her upstairs and downstairs because she sleeps in our bedroom. She's fallen down the stairs a lot so we put a stairgate up.

One of the ex-eyes looks fine, the other has a big swollen lump and redness. Tomorrow is the post op appointment, we'll see what they say.

Fur has started to regrow, but she still looks like a plucked chicken.

emotionsecho Sun 24-Apr-16 15:02:26

Once her fringe grows over it will look fine. Good luck at the check up tomorrow, funnily enough ours had one heal much better and quicker than the other.

You've done the best thing for your dog, I'm sure she will adapt really well as she would far rather be with you than the alternative.

I know ours still 'saw' me, it was the way they turned their head and 'looked' straight at me with a definite expression on their face.

Mellifera Sun 24-Apr-16 22:35:46

emotionsecho, she does normally have a fringe, and she will probably need a proper teenage fringe to hide grin

She does "look" at me, it's quite weird the way she still lifts her head up.

Tonight I walked her when it wasn't dark yet and a dog and man came out of one of the houses. She knew there was a dog, she turned round, started to wag her tail. She could not have heard him. Thankfully the man didn't hang round long enough to take a good look at her, but I was amazed at her perception.

I took her into the park and she recognised it and ran a bit on the grass. She hasn't done that for a long time.
It was the right decision, it just looks so brutal, but I have to remember it appears only brutal to us, to her it was an act of kindness.

emotionsecho Sun 24-Apr-16 23:32:09

I know exactly what you mean when you say it looks so brutal, we felt the same and wrestled with the decision and then blamed ourselves for not realising sooner even though it would have made no difference to the outcome.

It most definitely was an act of kindness on your part, she's pain free and still with the people who she loves and who love and care for her and she has a life to enjoy which you have seen today!

All the very best to you and herflowers.

Mellifera Mon 25-Apr-16 11:11:35

Thank you. Will post a pic once she is competing with my teens in the fringe department.

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