What Causes Blindness in Cats and Dogs?

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Dogs and cats can be born blind or go blind anytime in their lifetime but it usually occurs when they get older.

Besides congenital blindness and gradual blindness, there are several medical conditions that can cause a pet to go blind.


Diabetes mellitus can cause blindness in dogs, and rarely, in cats.

Uveodermatologic Syndrome is an autoimmune disease where a dog’s body attacks its own melanocytes (those are cells that produce pigment in the skin, the retina, and the uveal tract of the eye.

Progressive retinal is an inherited disease causing dogs and kittens, to a smaller degree, to lose their sight over several months to a year.

This is most often seen in Border Collies, Irish Setters, Schnauzers, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Abyssinian and Persian cats, and Norwegian Elkhounds. The rods and cones don’t fully develop in their eyes.

Sudden acquired degeneration syndrome is when the cones and rods of the retina are destroyed. It’s more common in 7 to 14 year old female dogs.

Taurine deficiency is in cats and it causes degeneration of the retina. This is caused by an imbalanced diet for cats; fresh meat provides taurine.

Symptoms of blindness in your dog or cat

These are some of the symptoms that may indicate that your dog or cat is gradually losing their vision.

  • An overall sense of clumsiness characterized by being confused as to where they are; also easily startled.
  • Running into things.
  • Misjudging heights, when the cat or dog tries to jump up or to another object, they don’t make it,
  • Being confused in new or changed surroundings. If you move the furniture and they seem to not know where it is.
  • Squinting, rubbing eyes, discolored eyes, large pupils, excessive tearing.

If you think your dog or cat is losing their eyesight you should have them examined by an ophthalmologist veterinary.

Prevention Tips

Of course you can’t prevent congenital blindness in your pet but there are other things you can do to prevent those cases of blindness that they acquire after they are born

Check your pet’s eyes on a regular basis. If you notice any of the above symptoms or any changes contact your vet. You may also want to contact him if there are any behavioral or personality changes in your pet.

Feed your pet appropriately, a well balance diet; preferably one that will prevent them from getting diabetes. Also keep them at a good weight.

Feed a fresh diet that is high in antioxidants, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E.

Caring for a Pet with Vision Loss

  • Refrain from moving furniture around and don’t leave things on the floor
  • Do not move their water and food bowls, bedding, litter etc.
  • Give them a safe spot that the can easily access
  • Cover sharp corners
  • Place fences at top of stairs
  • When they are outside supervise them
  • Try not to startle them

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