Being a whippet owner is a great responsibility, but being a blind whippet owner is something special.
It’s a challenge that when confronted with, can seem daunting and first, but one that you and your furry love ball can work through together.
In this post, we take a look at blind whippets and what to do if you have one or suspect your whippet is going blind.
Let’s get into it…
Is Blindness Common In Whippets?
Blindness in whippets is surprisingly common, with the most popular form of blindness in dogs (and humans) being cataracts.
Cataracts can come on slowly, or suddenly and is very treatable if caught early enough.
Cataracts are more common in whippets due to their light eyes. Over time, this illness can cause your whippet to become blind if not caught early enough and treated.
However, blindness can be caused by many eye illnesses in whippets, and sadly it’s often not spotted until it’s too late.
Causes Of Blindness In Whippets
There are many different causes of blindness in whippets, but as mentioned above the main cause is cataracts.
Cataracts start to develop in whippets after 2 years old and can be treated very easily and cheaply with surgery if caught early enough.
However, by the time you notice your whippet has a cataract, it may already be too late due to them being so common.
Other causes of blindness in whippet include:
- SARDS: Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome, which can develop in younger whippets.
- Retinal dysplasia: Genetic disorder which causes cloudiness of the retina and sometimes cataracts.
- Lens luxation: The lens of the eye becomes dislodged and so the eye cannot focus properly to see clearly.
- Uveodermatologic syndrome: This causes a chronic deterioration of the body’s immune system and is linked to progressive retinal atrophy.
- Cloudy cornea: (the transparent front cover at the front of an animal’s eye)
There are many different causes of blindness in whippets but the key is to try and spot it early so it can be treated.
How Can I Tell If My Whippet Is Going Blind?
If you suspect your whippet is going blind, you should take your pet to the veterinary centre immediately.
A vet can rule out some causes of blindness and test your whippet to see if he has any of the following:
You may be able to tell if your whippet is starting to go blind as they may not be as responsive to light, or they could be more agitated in the dark.
Not only that but when eating they may continue eating even though there is no food in the bowl.
If your whippet is starting to blind they will likely be more needy than normal as they will look to you for comfort.
They may seem a little off and stop eating or drinking, and they may even start to act more lazy than usual.
Here are some other signs to look out for if you suspect your whippet is going blind:
- Increased anxiety
- Less eye contact
- Reduced confidence
- More aggression or agitation
- Being startled easily
- Bumping into furniture
How To Care For A Blind Whippet
When it comes to caring for a blind whippet, there are lots of things you can do.
It’s at this point that your whippet needs you more than ever, so it’s important you are there for him and give him the support he needs.
Secure Your Home
The first step in caring for a blind whippet is to secure your home and protect him from any injury.
This will include things such as investing in a baby gate to stop your dog from falling down the stairs or being able to go up them.
As well as this, having a dog bed in each room – this way your whippet can get to his bed if he does start to feel disorientated.
It’s also a good idea to put away any ornaments or furniture that may have sharp edges to stop your whippet from hurting himself on them.
You need to really dog-proof the home as accidents may, and likely will happen until your blind whippet starts to figure the landscape out.
Start Blind Dog Training
Another way to care for your blind whippet is to start blind dog training.
This will involve using a long leash to help your whippet walk around for himself; this way, he will learn the layout of his home and rooms.
It will also involve the whippet staying close to you at all times and learning words and commands such as “sit” and “wait.”
Blind dog training will really help your whippet become familiar with his home.
Physical And Audible Cues
Using physical and audible cues to help direct your whippet is crucial since he will not be able to see where he is going.
This means that you must take his leash and gently guide him into a room or up and down the stairs; this way, he will eventually learn how to go places.
Use words like “come”, “sit” and “stay” to help your whippet understand what you want them to do.
These cues will help your whippet get the hang of navigating the house and understanding what you want him to do.
It can be hard not to let your whippet roam around wherever he wants since he cannot see, but this will only lead to accidents and injuries.
Setting up a safe zone for your whippet to go to if they feel disorientated or anxious is super important.
This could be a dog bed, dog crate, or simply a designated area of the house.
Anything that makes your whippet feel safe and secure!
Blind dogs rely on their other senses to navigate themselves around, so be sure to place familiar smells, objects, or textures near this safe zone.
This will help your whippet know where he is and what’s going on around him.
Blind Dog Halo
Blind dog halos are a great way for blind dogs to have a visual aid.
They are essentially dog harnesses with LED lights that highlight the outline of objects around your whippet.
There are different halo types for indoors or outdoors, so be sure to choose the right one for your lifestyle!
These are awesome tools for blind dogs and really help them figure out where they are.
Blind Dog Leash
Another awesome tool for blind dogs is a leash that has a light indicator on it to tell you when there are objects nearby.
This way, your whippet can walk himself without running into walls or whatever is nearby!
The Importance Of Routine
A good routine will help your blind whippet immensely. Whether it be through the use of a harness or leash, routine is crucial for your whippet to get used to their surroundings.
It can be pretty scary for a dog that could once see to become blind, so ensuring they have a structured day will help them feel settled and comforted.
This could be anything from sticking to certain times of the day to feed and walk them, as well as sticking to the same routes wherever you go.
Can A Blind Whippet Be Happy?
Many people feel sorry for dogs that have gone blind, and are disheartened thinking that they won’t live as happy lives!
This is completely untrue – with a little bit of extra love and care, your whippet will be perfectly happy.
It might take some time for them to adjust to their newfound disability, but nonetheless, they will settle into your household routines quickly if you continue with the same patterns.
These dogs are very intelligent and will know where they’re going, so a little extra guidance from you isn’t needed.
Blindness doesn’t need to be the end of your whippet, with a positive mindset and some extra precautions, life can be just as enjoyable for your blind whippet.
It’s worth keeping in mind that blindness can cause other problems for your whippet, these issues have been known to occur:
Incontinence – due to blindness, the dog will not know where they are going and so may soil themselves.
Seizures/Severe Head Shakes – any disability can trigger a seizure in a whippet, however, because of their blindness, the severity of seizures can increase.
If you should ever notice any of these issues or other possible problems I haven’t mentioned, it’s important to take your whippet to a vet to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Other than the above common health concerns, there is nothing else for owners of blind whippets to worry about.
So stick by your whippet and help them through this new unsettling time, they’ll come out (after a few bumps and bruises) stronger than ever.
Providing you take the correct precautions and have a strong sense of responsibility, owning a blind whippet shouldn’t intimidate you.
Even though they’re missing their eyesight, it won’t stop them from living out your ideal dog’s life.
These are strong, intelligent dogs that can fight through almost anything!
Whippets are some of the most caring and loving dogs you’ll ever come across, so if you can put in some time to help them through their mental transition, it’ll be more than worth it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, I hope you’ve learned how to care for a blind whippet and what it would take to own one.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!