Common Causes Of Sudden Blindness In Dogs

Sudden blindness in dogs is a tragedy no one should have to go through. Least of all your canine companion. But for some dogs, this is a sad reality and something that us pet owners need to be aware of.

What causes sudden blindness? How can it be treated, if at all? There are plenty of questions that need answering and in this article, we will do our best to help you learn everything you need to know. So, without further ado, let us dive right in!

Common Causes Of Sudden Blindness In Dogs

How to Identify Sudden Blindness in Dogs

Are you not sure if your dog is losing their vision? If you are not sure what symptoms or behavior to look out for, don’t worry. In this section, we will show you some of the most common symptoms and behaviors you might see in a pet that has developed blindness. 

  • Your dog’s eyes may be red, swollen, or puffy.
  • You may see your dog paw at their face, a visual cue that their eyes are irritated. 
  • Your dog may not want to do things they have always been comfortable doing such as going up and down the stairs or climbing on the furniture. 
  • You have noticed that your dog is bumping into objects around them.
  • Your dog’s eyes appear cloudy.
  • Your dog may be more anxious when you take them on walks or to new places. 
  • Your dog may be easily startled
  • Your dog may act more dazed and confused than normal. 

What Can Cause Sudden Blindness in Dogs? 

Sudden blindness for your furry friend is not something anyone should have to go through. But, knowing what caused onset blindness can be a clue to a cure. Some vision loss will come back while others will not.

Regardless of what caused the loss of your dog’s vision, it is always good to know how it happened so that they can get the care that they need to be more comfortable. 

In this section, we have a series of the most common reasons for blindness developing in your dog. So, let’s take a loot:

Trauma To The Eye

Obviously, if your dog has injured their eye this may cause them to suddenly go blind as a result of that trauma. 

Old Age

Older dogs are prone to blindness based purely on their age. So if your dog is older they can suddenly go blind. 

Glaucoma

This condition is very painful. Glaucoma occurs when there is pressure on the fluid in your dog’s eye. This can cause the optic nerve and retina. This eye disease will eventually cause your pet to go blind and onset blindness can happen as soon as over a few days or weeks. Glaucoma can be caused by any of the following: 

  • Trauma – Also known as traumatic glaucoma.
  • Age – Your dog may be more prone to developing this condition as they get older.
  • Hereditary – A certain line of dogs or even a breed may be more prone to developing glaucoma. 
  • Pressure in the Eyes – If your dog has pressure in the eyes it could lean to your furry friend developing this condition and going blind. 

This condition is not to be taken lightly and if you think that your dog has been afflicted by it, you should get hold of your veterinarian as soon as you can so that they can get the treatment that they need.

Not all the treatments your vet advises will be the same and will differ depending on what caused the condition to appear. In some cases your dog may need a surgery, this will especially be the case if medication is not proving effective in lessening the pressure in the eye or reducing any other effects that glaucoma may give them. 

If your dog is suffering from this painful condition you may notice that they have any of the following symptoms: 

  • Your dog may not eat as much as normal
  • Your Dog may be more lethargic
  • You may see some redness in the eyes
  • You may notice that your dog is squinting

If your dog actually goes blind as a result of this condition you might see that one of their pupils is dilated and does not get larger or smaller as a result of changing light.

Even if your dog has gone blind there is still a chance that their vision will come back after a few weeks. But if your dog has glaucoma for long periods of time and is not treated can have irreversible blindness. So, it is important that you get your dog treated before that happens. 

Immune-Mediated Retinal Detachment Syndrome

This condition occurs when the retina becomes detached from the back of the eye. This condition can cause partial vision loss or complete vision loss depending on the severity of this detachment.

There are several reasons a dog might experience retinal detachment, below you will see the most common reasons for this condition: 

  • Your dog may have contracted an infectious fungal, bacterial or viral disease that caused the retina to become detached. 
  • Your dog may have an immune-mediated disorder
  • Your dog may have high blood pressure or hypertension which can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye. 

If your dog has this condition you will need to make sure that they get medical help as soon as possible. This is so that the injury or illness is taken care of and your dog does not suffer from more than just partial blindness.

The treatments for retinal disconnection is entirely dependent on what the underlying cause of the condition is. So, see your vet and find out, so you can get the most appropriate treatment for your pet. 

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration

A dog that contracts sudden acquired retinal degeneration or SARD can go blind quite quickly if the condition progresses. As short as one month or less can result in a total loss of vision.

This condition is not painful for your pet, but the blindness is irreversible. It is more common in dogs that are over the age of seven. Any breed of dog can contract this condition but most cases are seen in smaller dog breeds. 

This condition can cause blindness in just a few days or up to a month. If your dog has SARD you may notice some of these symptoms: 

  • Your dog may be more lethargic
  • Your dog may be disoriented
  • You may see your dog walking into things
  • Your dog may eat more than usual
  • Your dog may gain weight
  • Your dog may drink more than usual
  • Your dog may urinate more frequently

The symptoms in SARD are very similar to a condition known as Cushing’s disease. Even today researchers are trying to determine whether these conditions are linked. 

Sadly SARDs is not treatable and if your dog gets it they are almost certainly going to lose their sight. There have been many drug trials to try to find a cure for SARDs, but no cure is available yet. 

Cataracts

This condition is common in humans as well. This condition happens when there is an opacification of the crystalline lens that is in the eye. It is common in young purebred, or middle-aged dogs specifically. But there is also a genetic component that can determine whether a dog will get cataracts.

When the eye starts to develop cataracts your dog’s vision will become impaired and as the cataracts progress your dog may become functionally blind. 

If your dog has cataracts one of the most common treatments is to remove the cataract surgically and install an artificial lens. This surgery is usually very effective, up to ninety-five percent. On top of that this operation is always performed by a board-certified ophthalmologist.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

PRA is a degenerative disease, in essence, if a dog gets this condition it means that the retina will deteriorate over time. This will eventually mean that your dog will lose their vision in the afflicted eye or eyes. 

This disease is typically inherited which means that there are certain breeds or family lines that are more likely to contract PRA. Luckily the gene for this condition is recessive which means that both the male and female must be carriers of the gene in order for it to be passed on. Breeds that have a track record of PRA are as follows: 

  • Old English Mastiffs
  • Golden Retrievers
  • English Spaniels
  • American Cocker Spaniels
  • King Charles Spaniels
  • Labrador
  • Rottweilers
  • Bedlington Terriers
  • Bullmastiffs

None of these breeds will certainly develop PRA, however, they do have a history of developing it. 

Specific Breed Predilection 

We might not like to admit it, but there are certain dog breeds that are predisposed to becoming blind. This might be due to genetics or because they can catch certain diseases more easily. Breeds such as the following are among the most likely to suddenly become blind: 

  • Shih Tzus
  • German Shepherds
  • Chows
  • Shar-Peis
  • Spaniels
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Chihuahuas
  • Basset Hounds
  • Dachshunds
  • Great Danes
  • Dalmatians

While this is not an extensive list, these are some of the breeds we know have a history of becoming blind. This is not to say that if you have any of these breeds that your dog will definitely become blind. These dog breeds just have a history and may be predisposed to developing blindness.

As such, you will need to keep an eye on them so that if anything develops you can act quickly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer a few questions about sudden blindness in dogs so that you do not have to wade through the internet for help. So, let’s take a look:

Can Dogs Go Temporarily Blind? 

Yes, dogs can go temporarily blind. The reason this happens is because of something called glaucoma.  If your dog has glaucoma then there is a chance that he/she could go temporarily blind.

This happens because the fluid pressure inside the eyeball increases. In turn, this causes the optic nerve to swell, and it becomes damaged. 

There are other reasons your dog may go temporarily blind like liver failure for example. If you notice any symptoms of blindness make sure to take your dog to the vet so that they can get the care they need and maybe even have their sight brought back. 

How Do You Restore Your Dog’s Eyesight?

The best way to restore your dog’s eyesight is to perform laser treatment. Laser treatment is done with a special laser machine. It is used to break down the cataracts so that they can be removed.

After that, the doctor will use a microsurgery technique to remove the cataract from the affected eye. Once the cataract is gone then the doctor will apply medication to the cornea and the conjunctiva. This helps prevent infection and prevents further damage to the eye. 

However, if your dog already had surgery done before then you should wait until after the first surgery to start laser treatment. 

What Food Is Good for Dogs Eyesight?

There are many foods that are good for your dog’s vision. Some of them include carrots, broccoli, green beans, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, oranges, strawberries, mangoes, apricots, peaches, plums, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, grapefruit, pears, prunes, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, kiwi fruit, and avocados. 

All of these fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that help protect against free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that cause cell damage.

They also contribute to aging and disease. Antioxidants help reduce the amount of free radicals in our bodies. 

Can A Vet Tell If A Dog Is Going Blind?

No, vets cannot tell if a dog is going blind or not. A vet would only see the results of the problem. For instance, if a dog goes blind then the vet would see the effects of the condition.

If a dog does not go blind then the vet would not see anything wrong with the dog. 

How Do You Check A Dog’s Vision?

You can check a dog’s vision by using a flashlight and shining it into his/her eyes. If the light shines directly at the pupil then the dog should blink. If the light is too bright then the dog will squint and close his/her eyes.

Also, if you shine a light on a white wall then the dog should move their head away from the light. If the dog moves their head away from the source of the light then they are able to see the light.

If the light is still being seen when the dog turns around then they are probably blind. 

Final Thoughts

That is all for this article, we hope that you have enjoyed learning all about some of the most common causes of dog blindness.

We hope that none of these things ever happen to your dog. But if it does, it is good to be prepared and know what the potential symptoms will be. 

Have a fantastic day!

Megan Turner
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