Not too long ago, I received a newsletter from a local shelter that was urgently looking for volunteers. I decided to go for it since I had some free time for a month. Never did I know that what was supposed to be a one-month stint ended up being 6.
But it was every second well spent.
The joy of knowing when one of the shelter animals got adopted and the sadness of knowing how each and every one of them came about being there made me appreciate them even more.
During my time there, I bonded especially well with a few of the local residents. Once was a tabby cat called Hopper and another was a Terrier male dog called Terry.
Terry was special. He was blind when he came to the shelter. Apparently, he lost his sight due to an eye infection as a stray. Terry was terrified when he first arrived but eventually blossomed into a blind dog that could ‘see’.
He didn’t regain his eyesight but he moved like he could, just like the rest of his furry friends. And the last I heard was that Terry got adopted by his forever family.
If you have recently adopted a blind dog or have an existing dog that has lost its vision due to illness or old age, there are some challenges ahead but none that can’t be overcome.
Toilet training is always one of them.
What should you do if your blind dog has been peeing in the house?
This article plans to cover that and more. Let’s get started.
What Can Cause Blindness In Dogs?
Besides a dog being born blind, which can be a congeniality abnormality, there are dogs that can also start to lose their eyesight due to an illness.
Here are some common causes of blindness in dogs.
It is terrifying to know that more than 50% of dogs in America are overweight. And a dog that is overweight is at a much higher risk of being diabetic.
Diabetes is a health condition whereby the dog’s pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin to break down the sugar in its blood.
Dogs with diabetes are more prone to developing cataracts which is the clouding of your dog’s eye lens. This can lead to partial or complete blindness over time.
Suddenly Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARD)
SARD in dogs is an eye disease that can catch many dog owners off guard. It can happen so fast and suddenly that there’s hardly any time to prevent it.
SARD causes the dog’s retina to deteriorate rapidly which can cause irreversible blindness in the dog within a short period.
If your dog has suddenly become wall-eyed, make sure to get it checked by the vet immediately. Wall eyes in dogs should be congenital condition and not something that happens out of the blue.
Many doctors are still scratching their heads about the actual cause of SARD but it is said to be caused by Cushing’s disease, autoimmune disease and in older female dogs.
In each of our eyes, there is a pressure strong enough for the eyes to maintain proper vision and shape.
Glaucoma can cause the pressure in the eye to reach unhealthy levels which can damage the retina and optic nerve.
This can cause pain in the eye and the possibility of the dog going blind if nothing is done to relieve the eye pressure.
An older dog will have many more health problems as compared to its younger counterpart.
As humans age, our eyesight and vision tend to deteriorate. The same thing can happen to our senior dogs.
This can be caused by the degeneration of the optic nerves over time and it isn’t something that can be cured or reversed.
Why Is My Blind Dog Peeing In The House?
When a dog starts peeing in the house, there can be a few reasons that could be causing this behavior. Some reasons are due to a medical issue while others are from a behavioral point of view.
Your Dog Is Fearful
If your dog has recently been diagnosed as being visually handicapped, it can cause a lot of emotional turmoil in your dog.
The more sudden the onset of your dog’s blindness, the harder the impact will be on your dog.
There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and your dog going blind doesn’t mean that its life is done and dusted.
Far from it actually.
But there will be a period of adjustment as your dog tries to get accustomed to its world being a lot darker than usual.
Thankfully, dogs come equipped with very sensitive noses and ears which can help carry the extra sensory load.
Even if your dog has been properly potty trained, this sudden onset of fear and anxiety can make it forget its previous potty training.
These emotions can cause your dog to have separation anxiety whenever you are not around. Separation anxiety can cause many beahavioral issues in your dog.
It can start to have potty accidents inside the house while it adapts to its loss of vision.
Your Dog Has A Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections or UTIs are a rather common condition in dogs. This is when the dog’s urinary tract is all inflamed and swollen which makes peeing very difficult for them.
UTI is more commonly seen in female dogs than in male dogs.
The most common cause of a UTI is from a bacterial infection. The bacteria can travel upwards from the opening of the dog’s urethra and start to cause an infection.
The bacteria can also travel downwards from your dog’s gut and infect its urinary system.
This happens when there is an imbalance of gut flora in your dog’s stomach which causes certain bacteria to start multiplying in huge numbers.
Common symptoms of a UTI include:
- Pain when peeing
- Blood in urine
- Unable to pass urine or very little urine
- Having to pee frequently
If you suspect that your dog has UTI, you need to bring it to the vet asap to get it treated.
A course of antibiotics will usually clear it up. Dogs that can’t pee are in a lot of trouble as it can be life-threatening if left untreated.
If your blind dog is suffering from urinary incontinence, it won’t be able to hold its pee in when it feels like using the toilet.
Most dogs tend to suffer from urinary incontinence as they get older. The bladder muscle gets weaker and it feels a lot harder to stop the pee from flowing out, even in small amounts.
Urinary incontinence can also be caused by trauma or injury to your dog’s spine which can make it lose control of its bladder muscle.
If your dog’s loss of vision was due to an accident or hard impact, it might have also affected your dog’s spine.
There are medications that you can give your dog for urinary incontinence. Proin can help with urine leakage but it needs to be taken for life.
Some dog owners will even use dog diapers, belly bands or pee pads to stop the dog from leaking pee indoors.
How Do You Housebreak A Blind Dog?
Trying to potty train your blind dog should be no different from training a dog with normal vision.
The important thing to note here is that a blind date will progress at a much slower rate due to the lack of sight.
It can see when it is outside so it has to depend on the touch of grass on its paws as a sign.
Bring your dog to a place that it can easily recognize by smell or sound. Dogs have much better senses than us which can help them remember where they are.
Use more verbal commands such as “Potty break” or “Pee/poo time” to help guide your dog when it is time for a toilet break.
If you rather your dog learn to use the pee pad indoors, make sure that there are no obstacles for your dog to navigate to get to it.
Don’t put it upstairs which means that your blind dog has to climb up and down when using the toilet.
Never beat or scold your dog if it fails to potty outside. That will even cause more anxiety in your dog and make it afraid to use the toilet in front of you.
By scolding your dog you’re not helping matters. Blind dogs are more prone to accidents in my experience.
You might even have thoughts about rehoming your dog but feel bad about doing so. I understand that it can be a frustrating experience but please know that your dog is trying its best too.
Clean up the mess with vinegar so that your dog doesn’t think it’s ok to potty at the same spot again.
Always, always, always, lavish a lot of praise on your blind dog when it gets its potty training right and feed it some treats.
The more positive affirmation your dog gets for a certain action, the more that makes your dog want to repeat it.
Do Dogs Get Sad When They Go Blind?
I forgot that dogs don’t feel sorry for themselves. They don’t think about the future. They figure things out the best they can and get on with it.
Dogs with handicaps are a lot more adaptable and resilient than we give them credit for.
Blind dogs shouldn’t be treated with pity. This makes them think that something really bad is happening.
Don’t rush to help your dog because its blindness makes you sad.
Many studies have shown that our dogs feed off our energy. If you are happy when doing potty training, your dog will feel excited about it too.