Five Ways to Support Your Pet's Vision

Five Ways to Support Your Pet's Vision
©Holger Langmaier / EyeEm / Getty Images
By Caroline BiggsMartha Stewart

It’s important to you that your pets lead healthier, happier lives. Whether you want veterinary advice, behavioral insight, or the best-in-market pet essentials that make every day more joyful, for both you and your cat or dog, The Well-Balanced Pet offers practical tips you can use.

Ask any veterinarian and they'll tell you the same: Vision loss in dogs and cats can be sudden or sometimes gradual. "There are many genetic conditions that can cause your pet to lose vision suddenly or gradually," explains Dr. Tory Waxman, co-founder, and chief veterinary officer of Sundays. "Some breeds, such as Collies or Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to certain genetic causes of blindness, while gradual vision loss can be due to a wide variety of underlying issues including genetic causes, cataracts, autoimmune and infectious causes."

Fortunately, Dr. Jamie Richardson, medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary, says there are several steps owners can take to support their vision-impaired dogs and cats at home. "If you notice your pet starts to move around more cautiously or is bumping into things, this can indicate that their vision is decreasing. A 'maze' test at home can help determine if your pet's vision is starting to decrease, and you can do this by creating an obstacle course and see if your pet is able to navigate the 'course' without bumping into things."

Interested in learning more about how to support your pet's vision at home? We asked both veterinarians for advice and here's what they had to share.

Determine if your pet is losing their vision.

In addition to bumping into walls and furniture, Dr. Waxman says there are other signs of a pet suffering from vision loss. "Hesitation to jump on and off the bed, reluctance to run up or down the stairs, squinting, or not wanting to go outside in the bright sun, and the inability to track or catch thrown food or toys are all common signs of worsening vision," she says. "If you are concerned your pet is losing their vision, make an appointment with your regular veterinarian right away so they can do a thorough assessment of your pet's eyes."


Keep things consistent at home.

If your dog or cat is losing vision, Dr. Waxman says one of the best things you can do for them is to keep their environment as consistent as possible. "Do not rearrange the furniture or leave your shoes in the middle of the hallway," she says. "If you do visit a new place, walk them around on a leash to familiarize them with the environment and do not leave them alone unless enclosed in a safe space."



Certain supplements can help.

According to Dr. Richardson, Oct-GLO is an antioxidant supplement formulated by veterinary ophthalmologists to help support the vision and to minimize eye damage over time. "This supplement can be beneficial for pets that are genetically predisposed to vision loss or for senior pets," she explains. "I recommend a full physical examination and discussion with your veterinarian prior to starting any new medications or supplements."



Get them a seeing-eye guide.

If your dog or cat's vision starts to worsen over time, both veterinarians recommend getting your pet a "seeing-eye" guide. "Getting another dog or cat can also help some pets feel less afraid of being blind," Dr. Waxman says. "There are many anecdotal stories of cats and dogs acting as 'guide' cats or dogs for their blind furry family members." Additionally, Dr. Richardson says that an owner can serve as a seeing-eye human for their pet. "By walking slowly and using verbal cues, you can help your pet navigate the outside world despite their limited vision," she says.


Try a halo harness.

If you have a vision-impaired pet and aren't already hip to halo-style harnesses, then now's the time to try one. "Muffin's Halo harnesses (starting from $115, chewy.com ) provide a bumper for your dog to prevent them from bumping into objects," Dr. Waxman explains. "Many blind dogs learn to love and depend upon wearing a Halo, especially in new environments."

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