If my dog goes blind in old age, should I have him put to sleep?

It’s a fact of life! Dogs like us humans, age. The worst part is that these affectionate animals age much faster than we do thus throughout his/her lifetime, a pet guardian has to cope with the loss of a loyal friend several times. Senior citizen dogs suffer from the same age related changes that affect humans. An aging dog may not have a heavily wrinkled face but the graying hair above the eyes and on the muzzles, the dry skin and the coat that has lost its luster are telltale signs of the dog’s advancing years. The once spry Fido will now be less agile. Even the simple task of climbing stairs or getting up after lying down for quite some time would be too difficult because of stiff joints. The dog may no longer heed the call of the owner as it is not uncommon for old dogs to lose its sense of hearing. Eye diseases related to aging can cause the pet to lose its sight. A blind dog would need special care and attention. Would you take the time to care patiently for the blind pet or would you opt for the easy way out by having the pet put down?

We humans have this rather quirky habit of not discarding anything we consider “old faithful”. The old sneakers that have seen better days will not be thrown away. The tattered robe will be favored over the new one because of its familiar snug and comfortable feel. Yes, the dog is old – and blind but the pet has provided the family with companionship, protection and unending loyalty. Should you deprive the dog of the chance to live with its favorite people just because you would not want to be troubled with caring for the old blind pet? The old blind dog would no longer meet you with an exuberantly wagging tail but the way the pet would sidle and lean against your leg every time it finds you would be reason enough to let the dog stay.

Caring for an old dog is pretty much the same as caring for an old member of the family. Cataracts, glaucoma and other age related eye diseases can make the dog lose its sight. In most cases, the blindness would come on slowly thus the dog would have a chance to be familiar with its surrounding before the sight is totally lost. Putting the dog to sleep should never be an option especially if the dog does not have a serious debilitating ailment. Dogs are intelligent animals and blind ones are known to adapt well to the condition.

A dog owner’s role is to provide the pet with loving care, patience and understanding. It would help if the dog is placed in a comfortable room with less obstructions or clutter on the floor. Similar to blind humans, blind dogs too would learn to familiarize with the layout of the surroundings thus it would not be a good idea to keep on rearranging the furniture. The dog may have lost its sense of hearing and sense of sight but the ultrasensitive sense of smell that remains will be put to good use. Instead of the eyes, the nose will now be used to navigate. The nose will guide the dog to the feeding bowl. With a lot of patience you may even be able to teach the blind dog the way to its own bathroom. In spite of the disability, the pet would have a happy and comfortable existence if it knows that he/she is surrounded by loving friends.

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