How to Help Blind Dogs Adapt

by Drs. Foster and Smith on June 17, 2011

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**Guest post from Ellen B.**

After doing some research for my last post about accommodating mobility-disabled dogs, I took an interest in learning more about accommodating blind dogs. Blind Animal – Blind Dog, a website that features a dog who is completely blind, captured my interest. Videos show a blind dog, Tess, chasing a ball, going up & down steps, and many other activities that a “normal” dog would do. Her owners made modifications to help Tess adjust to life without eyesight. This blind dog amazed me with how she so eloquently adapted to blindness.

I read about some simple life-style changes that can help accommodate blind dogs and decided to make a list of pet supplies that can help blind dogs do normal activities. A product specialist here at Drs. Foster & Smith, along with a few fellow co-workers who are also dog fanatics, helped me with this list of supplies that encourages blind dogs to use their sense of smell, hearing, taste and touch to do normal activities.

Toys & Supplies to Aid Blind Dogs

Seek-A-Treat Puzzle Toy

Seek-A-Treat Puzzle Toy

Everlasting Treat Ball for dogs.

Everlasting Treat Ball for dogs.

  • Toys That Hold Treats
    Let their sense of smell find delicious treats tucked inside a toy. The Everlasting Treat Ball sits firmly on the floor and holds a replaceable treat that will keep dogs licking for hours. (I personally bought the large size even for my puppy because the large seems to hold the treat better, allowing only hours upon hours of licking!) Puzzle toys are great because it is the scent of their favorite treats that encourages dogs to work at getting their treat out. (Read my post about puzzle dog toys.)

Wiggly Giggly Dog Toy

  • Squeaky or Noise-Making Toys
    Drs. Foster & Smith customer, Elizabeth P., gives the following recommendation for the Wiggly Giggly Ball:

    “My 8 year old lab went progressively blind (PRA) so fetch was more and more difficult until I found the Wiggly Giggly Ball. For anyone with a low-sighted or blind dog that was previously active, these toys are a wonderful find!”

    Mega Squeaks Dog Toy

    Other squeaky toys include: Squawkers Dog Toys and Soft Flex balls. There’s also many plush toys with squeakers such as Mega Squeaks and Skinneez toys. The Skinneez Water Bottle Dog Toys stimulates the senses with irresistible texture and crackling, crunchy sounds.

    Toys are great for helping prevent your dog from getting bored. The toys listed above are sure to capture the sense of hearing and provide a fun playtime!

pet fountain

  • Pet Water Fountains
    Although the motor makes a little noise, the sound of running water in a pet fountain will help a blind dog find his water bowl. Most pet fountains would also have a slight vibration that would appeal to the sense of touch. Persistent noisemakers around the house help a blind dog maintain his bearings.
    .

pet gateX-mat

  • Boundary Controls
    Some places are unsafe for blind dogs so restriction from that area is really important. A staircase or around the Christmas tree are two places where an X-Mat Pet Training Mat or a pet gate are particularly helpful to keep blind dogs safe. The X-Mat, which has raised bumps that are uncomfortable to paws, is very portable and perfect for traveling. The important point of using a gate or mat is to help blind dogs maintain bearings if they stray too far.

Do you have any experience with helping blind dogs?
We would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment to share your tips with fellow blog visitors who may be dealing with accommodating a blind dog.

More helpful tips for living with a blind dog.

Drs Foster Smith Pet Supplies logo


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Miki June 17, 2011 at 9:30 am

Hello, I’m Miki, R+ dog training instructor and blind dog trainer, living in Japan. I research training and care to improve the quality-of-life of blind dogs and their owners, and write blog posts about tips and ideas to help blind dogs. Also I made and uploaded some videos what blind dog can do and how we train blind dog. If you watch those videos, you would be surprised again! :) Blind dogs has many amasing abilities and brain! They can many things and enjoy life. I learned all of those from my sweet Doxie Nono. Hope both blind dogs and their owners enjoy life much much more!

bichonscot1 Michelle June 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

My Scottish Terrier is newly blind and we are all adjusting. I really found this an interesting article. Our vet doesn’t know what caused her blindness, but suspects complications from kidney disease. She follows our bichon’s lead a lot (we are very glad to have 2 dogs now!) and we are careful NOT to move furniture or change anything. Scotty’s are such stoic dogs and she is coping pretty well..we try to stay upbeat for her.

Anabella June 21, 2011 at 2:35 am

Hello, I’m Miki, R+ dog training instructor and blind dog trainer, living in Japan. I research training and care to improve the quality-of-life of blind dogs and their owners, and write blog posts about tips and ideas to help blind dogs. Also I made and uploaded some videos what blind dog can do and how we train blind dog. If you watch those videos, you would be surprised again! Blind dogs has many amasing abilities and brain! They can many things and enjoy life. I learned all of those from my sweet Doxie Nono. Hope both blind dogs and their owners enjoy life much much more!
+1

Fiona August 9, 2011 at 6:20 pm

we would love to know which odours we can introduce to help our blind dog locate items, such as doggy door, bed, such as orange, lavender, citronella, jasmine, are there any smells that are more positive and friendly, and also for danger signs? any help would be appreciated.

Ellen B. August 10, 2011 at 8:22 am

Miki & Michelle – thanks for your input. Your experience is inspiring and the tips will be valuable to our visitors who find themselves in the situation of caring for a blind dog.

Fiona – You may want to read a new article written by one of our veterinarians: Living with a Blind Dog: Helpful Tips It mentions “Use scents (e.g., flavored extracts, scented oils, colognes) to “cue” your dog to particular areas of your home: doorways, top and bottom of stairs, etc.”

I asked veterinarian Dr. Holly Nash about your question, and she added “Citronella is a scent often used as a deterrent, so I would not use that on a dog bed or door, instead perhaps as a warning at the top of the stairs. Some dogs like vanilla or mint, so those could be used as a “positive” scent.”

Hope this helps, I wish you the best of luck!

Silvie Bordeaux March 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Hello,
My name is Silvie Bordeaux and I am the Mother of Muffin, a precious 11 and half old toy poodle who recently went blind due to cataracts. I wanted to share this video and how the “Muffin Top – Neck Hug” has really helped my dogson who is now his happy self again.

I appreciate you spreading the word to all those in need. With much love!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa85yfy8A7w

Tammi March 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Will clickers help when training your blind dog to follow you while taking a walk? It seems when I snap my fingers every 10 seconds, our dog has a much easier time getting exercise while walking around our yard.

Dave February 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

A friend of mine invented scent markers that are placed around the home to help your dog find important locations and avoid obstacles. We have been selling them for about a year now and the feedback has been tremendous! Find out more at http://greenpetmeds.com/tracerzscentmarkers.aspx

leland scott September 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm

my puddle is newly blind and shes so scared she cries out of know where does anybody have any advise pls

Silvie Bordeaux April 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Muffin’s Halo is a great help for blind dogs. It safeguards them from bumping into walls and objects.

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