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Coping with blindness: a survey of 50 blind dogs

Chester, Z. and Clark, W.T. (1988) Coping with blindness: a survey of 50 blind dogs. Veterinary Record, 123 (26-27). pp. 668-671.

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A telephone survey of 50 owners of blind dogs was made in order to assess how well visually deprived dogs can cope within their environment. Ten of the 50 dogs surveyed died or were euthanased as a direct result of their blindness or ocular disease. Three owners were unable to come to terms with their pet's visual loss. Two dogs died as a result of accidents directly associated with blindness and five dogs were euthanased due to pain caused by glaucoma. Twenty-seven owners reported permanent behaviour or temperament changes in their pets. Behavioural changes included a more cautious approach to the environment and closer contact with the owner. Owners were aware of an obvious compensatory reliance on the senses of hearing and smell. Permanent temperament changes were reported in only two dogs both of whom became more aggressive. Only six of the surveyed dogs were unable or unwilling to find their way around in familiar surroundings. The most consistent measures undertaken by owners to ensure the dogs' safety was to prevent access to roads and to ensure that there was minimal movement of furniture within the home. Six dogs lost interest in exercise after the onset of blindness but a further six were still allowed to roam at large. Of the 32 owners who accompanied their dogs eight reported that restraint on a lead was unnecessary. Twenty-eight owners had encountered people who had suggested it was unkind to keep a blind dog

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary Studies
Publisher: British Veterinary Association
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