Top 10 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Develop Eye Problems
Dogs, like humans, face various health problems as they reach their golden years. Loss of vision is a prevalent problem in senior dogs. This is commonly caused by cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. It may also be caused by other medical conditions like hypertension, chronic dry eye, or diabetes.
Total vision impairment can take months or even years to develop. Preventative care and regular veterinary checkups are crucial in identifying underlying issues in the early stages.
Top 10 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Develop Eye Problems
1. Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies are predisposed to various genetic eye issues, including inherited or juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and progressive retinal atrophy. Because these three eye conditions are so common in Huskies, pedigree registries have been created to ensure that pedigree dogs all had recent eye exams.
2. Great Dane
These gentle giants are prone to entropion, a hereditary condition in which the eyelids "fold" inward. Entropion can result in irritation, inflammation, and even scar tissue that impairs vision because the tiny hairs along the lash line pull from across the corneal area of the eye.
3. American Cocker Spaniel
The primary cause of blindness in Cocker Spaniels is cataracts. Additionally, there is a direct connection between dog cataracts and canine diabetes. Canines that have cataracts may lose some or all their vision. A dog will still have some vision if less than 30% of the lens is damaged, but it may be limited.
4. German Shepherds
German Shepherds have the highest hereditary propensity for Pannus, or Chronic Superficial Keratitis, of all dog breeds. It is thought to be immune-mediated, which means that a cellular error abruptly causes the dog's body to see the cornea as foreign matter. Although there is no cure, there are ways to control its development.
5. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are genetically prone to progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). This chronic and progressive condition leads to blindness within two years of diagnosis.
There is a genetic predisposition to glaucoma in all three sizes of Poodles—toy, miniature, and standard. If a vet detects this fluid buildup in the eye early enough, it can be treated to prevent blindness and pain.
Collie Eye Anomaly is a condition that could affect all Collies. It is an untreatable condition that can affect many different areas of the eye. However, it may be so minor as to be undetectable. Greater severity can result in blindness.
Another breed that is significantly at risk of developing "cherry eye" is the bulldog. Dogs with short noses are generally more prone to bothersome conditions.
9. Boston Terriers
The protruding eyes of Boston Terriers put them at risk for various eye diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Additionally, because their eyeballs protrude, they are more prone to eye injuries, cuts, and other eye problems.
A Pekingese dog’s extreme brachycephalic head shape affects the structure of their eyes and surrounding tissues. This results in several eye disorders that can cause long-term discomfort and irritation. Those with less severely unusual skull shapes will likely have a reduced prevalence of these diseases.
Signs that Your Dog Might Be Going Blind
Physical abnormalities or behavioral changes in your dog may be the first indications that they are getting blind.
- Cloudy eyes
- Spots in the eye
- Pupils don't dilate normally
- Swelling or redness around the eyes
- Bumping into things more frequently
- Anxiety in new environments or when approached
- Less interest in activities they used to get excited about
- Not making eye contact
- Avoidance of stairs and furniture
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you feel your dog's vision is affected. Explain your worries and some of the behaviors you've observed during your appointment. Your vet will conduct a thorough examination, run tests, and should be able to give a diagnosis.
What Causes Blindness in Dogs?
Blindness in dogs can have a wide range of reasons. As they age, dogs may lose their vision due to illness, trauma, or genetic problems. If your dog is partially blind, this could indicate an aging-related health condition such as heart disease, kidney, or liver issues. Knowing the cause of your dog's blindness is essential to dispense the proper treatment.
Among the most typical reasons for canine blindness include the following:
Glaucoma, an accumulation of fluid inside the eye, can cause your dog significant discomfort. The disease brings on retinal damage, which may lead to blindness. Glaucoma usually has observable symptoms that develop gradually, making it simple to identify the condition in its early stages. Yellow eye discharge or green dilated pupils, a slightly blue eye color, and bloodshot eyes are all signs of glaucoma.
The prevalence of diabetes in dogs is rising, and one of its effects is blindness. This is because cataracts, which can result in partial or total blindness in diabetic dogs, typically develop within 6 months of a diagnosis. The likelihood of a dog having diabetes increases with age, gender, and obsessive behavior.
3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a painless, inherited condition that causes the retina to deteriorate and can lead to blindness. This can be detected early in puppies or later in life in older dogs. PRA develops slower than Suddenly Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS), and there is still no cure for this.
Dogs with cataracts are simple to spot since they frequently have milky or foggy eyes. Cataracts often begin in a tiny eye area but can spread to the whole lens. The disease prevents light from properly reaching the retina and blocks a dog's pupils. Both eyes or just one may be affected.
5. Suddenly Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)
SARDS is unusual in dogs. But it can result in rapid, irreversible blindness due to retina degeneration. The illness progresses swiftly and destroys the rods and cones of the eyes. It has no established cause, but it's believed that dogs with Cushing's Illness may be more susceptible. Due to the rapid nature of their blindness, dogs with SARDS often struggle to adapt.
6. Corneal Ulcers
An injury to the cornea's surface is known as a corneal ulcer. When a dog develops a corneal ulcer, fluid builds up in the stroma, giving the appearance of cloudiness in the eye. Because a corneal ulcer causes dogs great agony, they may rub the injured eye to ease the discomfort. They also tend to close the damaged eye to shield it. Trauma to the eye is the most frequent reason for a corneal ulcer.
7. Autoimmune Conditions
Some autoimmune diseases, like Pannus, have the potential to make dogs blind as it harms the cornea. Eye medication can quickly alleviate Pannus, but if it goes untreated, it can result in severe vision loss or blindness.
Dogs with specific traumas, such as being struck in the face, scratched, or hit by a car, may go blind. Blindness may develop from injury to the eyes, brain, or nerves that control vision.
Dogs may go blind if they have tumors in, on, or behind their eyes. The growth may obstruct a dog's eyesight and harm the eye's structure. If a tumor is discovered in or near the eye, the only treatment option is to remove the eye. Additionally, brain and nerve tumors have the potential to result in blindness.
How to Take Care of a Blind Dog
With a little additional time and care from their owners as they explore the world around them, dogs with reduced vision can still lead happy, fulfilling lives. The following tips can help you make sure your blind dog is comfortable.
- Be Predictable
Avoid moving furniture around your home and keep food and water in the same spot. If you must make a change, ensure your pet is aware by carefully walking them through it.
- Make a Safe Space for Your Dog
Your dog can feel comfortable and secure in a small space or a sizable kennel. Create a welcoming environment by supplying soft blankets and objects scented with your perfume.
- Dog-Proof Your Home
Consider your house and yard through the eyes of a blind dog. Where could they encounter hazardous objects? Shake things up? Fall? Unintentionally stray? It is essential to act quickly to avoid these potential risks.
- Use Your Voice
Dogs who are blind rely on sound and vibrations. Avoid startling your dog by taking slow, deliberate steps or greeting others as you enter the room. Before petting or cuddling your dog, make sure to introduce yourself.
- Be Patient
It might be annoying if your Dog continues knocking things over or whining and barking. Practice being more patient during these times and giving your pet lots of care.
How to Train a Blind Dog
- Keep it Short and Positive
Any dog training you do should be something you both enjoy doing together. Praise and rewards work best for this, but be careful not to overfeed your pet by adjusting their food consumption. Start by keeping workouts brief and training in a quiet, familiar location.
- Use a Clicker
When training with blind dogs, clickers—which "mark" the behaviors we wish to see—can be especially helpful. Your blind dog will enjoy the sound because it is fast, precise, and reliable. If you choose, you can also instruct your dog using sounds or words. Ensure that everyone participating in your dog's training uses the same method for each instruction.
- Talk to Your Dog
Your dog's other senses, such as hearing and scent, are even more acute when they aren't seeing. In addition to reassuring them, talking to your blind pet will help them know your location. Talk to them before petting or handling them to let them know you're there and to avoid startling or scaring them.
- Use Scents
Blind dogs require the same walks and playtime as regular dogs. However, they might need some assistance locating and pursuing objects. Before you throw their toys, try spreading strong-smelling food or treats on them to encourage your pet to sniff them out. Always play in a secure, open space, and allow your blind dog a chance to investigate the environment with you before you begin.
Basic Dog Commands to Teach a Blind Dog
Using commands is a helpful technique to alert your dog when something is about to happen, such as walking speed, direction, or the arrival of another dog or person. Since your dog won't have visual signals to associate with and aid their understanding, all instructions should be separate and sound different.
You must first make a conscious effort to issue the command each time you carry out the action.
When you stop walking, signal to your dog with this order. Stop, say the command, and wait for your dog to follow. When you're ready to continue, offer the command "walk on" and give praise and rewards.
- Walk On
Give your dog the "walk on" command and gently lead them along while praising them before you continue walking.
When you get to a step-up or a curb, say "hup," and step up before your dog.
As you get close to a step-down or curb, say "step," and lower yourself before your dog.
- This Way/That Way
Use this as a signal to turn right or left.
- Who's This?
Use to signal the approach of a new person or dog so that they are aware of it and can investigate with a sniff.
E-Collars for Blind Dogs
Consistent verbal commands are necessary to teach your dog to "come." Even blind dogs will frequently need some form of visual or verbal cue from their owners. Visual clues can obviously be difficult in this regard.
To aid in blind dog training, you can try using a remote training collar. Shock collars for blind dogs have historically been challenging to use. For many owners, this can be a barrier to permitting off-leash enjoyment. Thankfully, modern e-collars are much better.
Can I Use an E-Collar for My Blind Dog?
Yes! Here are PetsTEK’s Picks for the best shock collar for blind dogs to help you choose.
The Mini Educator ET-300, one of the market's most popular Educator shock collars, comes in various colors, including yellow, black, and the Zen design. There’s even a variant with a discreet finger trainer, the FT-330. It has a unique “Pavlovian Tone” training function, 100 levels of static stimulation, and non-stimulating vibration, giving you options on what to use best for training.
The Micro Educator ME-300 has almost all the same features as the Mini, with some key differences. You still get 100 levels of static stim, vibration, and tone options. But the range is shorter at 1/3-mile. This e-collar is also 20% smaller and lighter with 20% less power, so it's perfect if you have a smaller breed of dog or your pet is extra sensitive.
Yes, this is the third Educator collar on this list, and why not? It has a better range than the Micro Educator at ½-mile. It still has the tone button to mark behavior. And the best part? The PG-300 is a vibration-only collar. It has 100 levels of adjustable vibration, so pet owners who feel uncomfortable using static still have options. This ecollar is excellent not only for blind dogs but sensitive and hearing-impaired ones as well.
The Dogtra CUE remote trainer is the latest addition to the Dogtra e-collar lineup. Currently only available through Amazon, this 400-yard collar has a 400-yard range, 24 levels of static stimulation, vibration, and a carabiner-design remote transmitter. The receiver is convertible for a vertical or horizontal fit, making it flexible for any dog size.
No e-collar list should be complete without a SportDog collar. The FieldTrainer 425X, SportDog’s smallest and lightest remote trainer, comes with 21 levels of static stimulation, vibration, and tone options up to a 500-yard range. The waterproof system is expandable to up to 3 dogs with the purchase of additional collars.
Dogtra is one of the most reputable brands when it comes to dog training. A Dogtra shock collar is highly reliable and durable, just like the Dogtra 200NCPT Remote Training Collar PetsTEK Edition. It comes with static, vibration, and tone. You'd be sure to find the stimulation that works best for your small and medium dogs.
Whether your dog loses their vision later in life or at birth, your attention is essential to their well-being. So, be sure to give them all the support they require. With enough patience, affection, and assurance, your pet will be able to adjust fast and live a more fulfilling life.