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Diabetes and Regulation in General The big picture of managing and regulating a dog's diabetes

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Old 08-22-2010, 05:54 PM
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Default Re: Adjusting to blindness?

Most likely a dog with cataracts has been adjusting to diminishing sight for a while now and it has just finally reached the point where s/he can't compensate anymore.

And yes they very definitely do go through an adjustment period, usually a few weeks to a month, where they are tentative and spend a lot of time bumping into things.

I sometimes wonder if they don't kind of wait around at first for the fog to clear! And then at some point they think okay, I guess this is how it is. And then they start figuring things out.

In six years involved with dogs with diabetes, still the best example is a little tiny Yorkie, Sandy, who went blind in the wintertime while living in the east on a few acres of land. She had to navigate a couple of steps before she got to the snow that was deeper than she was tall. Her person was, to put it politely, "doubtful" that she would adjust and she suggested that a couple of us who said it would be okay ought to try walking a mile in her shoes first!!

And she had a point... I had a dog who was 30 inches tall, two-thirds legs, no snow, and no steps!

But after a few weeks, Sandy just got over it. She figured it out and moved on and no one was more relieved that we were! LOL

Some dogs take longer than others but a few weeks is pretty typical I think.

It's also good to remember that a dog's brain approaches the challenge differently. Dogs don't wring their hands and fuss over Why Me? Why Did I Have to Lose MY sight!!! We do that but they don't. My sense with Chris was more like, "Well, that's different." So almost without exception, blindness is far more traumatic for the people watching than for the dogs.

You can try scents to get their attention. Some people scent paths through the house and doorways to help them navigate and that would be good but you might consider a strong scent to get your dog's attention. Maybe not food but something that would kind of grab his attention but not be unpleasant like a flower oil or tree oil.

(I just got back from an intro to nose work class and spent a few hours watching dogs follow their noses.)

Natalie
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:09 PM
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Default Re: Adjusting to blindness?

I can't add much as Natalie's post really sums it all up wonderfully.

My Mildred was blind for 10 months before I could give her cataract surgery.
She adjusted to her blindness quickly and quite well.

I really think it was me who had the difficulty, not so much her.

In the 6 years I've been around diabetes and dogs losing their sight I have only seen 1 that did not adjust well, she basically gave up.

Countless others really do well, in their own time.
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Old 08-22-2010, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: Adjusting to blindness?

Mattie has been blind for several months, and seems to have adjusted well to it. She seems to not be completely blind, but close enough. She's cautious on stairs that she's familiar with, and isn't allowed near the unfamiliar ones. Winter seemed difficult, as with the snow, there's little contrast, so she would sideswipe snowbanks on her walks. Finding her treats take a while. I'm curious how she will react when we leave on vacation in a few weeks. It's a cottage she's gone to every year for 5-6 years.

When I first noticed she was blind, I said to myself this condition will not be tolerated long. But she was able to make the adjustment.

One thing that annoyed me was after she went blind, and I used my fingers to share my meal with her, she no longer bit my fingers. That means the little booger was doing it on purpose!!
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:20 PM
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Arrow Re: Adjusting to blindness?

Kumbi appeared to go blind very suddenly - overnight - when he began bumping into things that were right in front of his nose. He had his moments of confusion, but basically, coped well. I assisted (I THINK) by laying down two different scents - from flavors made for human food - cinnamon, and vanilla. I used cinnamon to mean, safe passage, and vanilla to mean, barrier - don't walk here. I made tiny trails with the cinnamon, putting it on a swab and trailing the swab lightly - dogs don't require much.

I don't REALLY know if it helped him. I refreshed the scents after a week or so, and then stopped doing it, as he was doing okay.

I think Kumbi retained small amounts of peripheral vision, at least of light, dark, shadow and motion - nothing else. On our road-walks, he strode out straight and true. I always took the same route.

If I took him walking elsewhere, he'd be quite confused, but learned to trust me, and I'd guide him gently with my voice and the leash, saying, "This way." Took him into a couple of stores, with some tension on the leash. That worked fine.

Around the house and yard, he found his way easily, as I didn't move anything.

I think likely your dog WILL be confused for a time, but likely, no more than a few weeks. If you can stay cheerful, that will help a lot, as our dogs pick up on our attitudes.

Mon, 23 Aug 2010 19:17:28 (PDT)
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:55 AM
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Default Re: Adjusting to blindness?

Buddy started having vision problems before he was diagnosed. The vet said he had crystals in his eyes and there was nothing we could do. After the diagnosis, he was quite sick and very difficult to regulate. He lost vision in one eye and the other one, a day or two after.

After getting over my own emotional turmoil at watching my little man walk in to walls, door frames, jumping over the armrest of the couch etc. things started going better.

We have 2 westies and Buddy was so sick that he couldn't keep up with his sis so I took him out for his walk separately and carried a little <bear bell< and would ring it regularly so he knew where I was. Now the bell is around Cleo's collar for their walk.

I noticed that he was struggling with changes in flooring surface so I leashed him, in the house, and walked him to every room. I named the rooms as we entered them e.g. kitchen. I also used the same word all the time for <step, door, your cushion, etc, etc). I also noticed that sound became important so we leave the TV on almost on all the time. If you work outside the house, a radio would probably have the same effect. I changed his food bowl to one of glass and would cling on the bowl as I put it down for his meals.

At first and for about 1 month or so, I regularly sprayed Febreze, on the floor, a path to the back door and asked the question <You want to go out?<. I also sprayed door frames and the walls in narrow rooms (like the hallway).

I noticed that he became quite insecure when he lost his eyesight and where he could be quite independent and go off on his own before, he needed to feel your presence so we constantly talk to him. If either myself or my husband left the room, we would tell him <mommy is leaving now< - <mommy is back Buddy<.

We also walked him around the yard and let him smell bushes, feel the fence etc. In the winter, my husband plows paths in the backyard for him to follow and in the summer, he feels for the various bushes etc.

At night, we still leash him to go out in the yard for his final business before bedtime. We tried not to and he just sits on the patio and won't always venture on to the grass so we just don't take a chance on the last outing before bedtime.

Hope this helps
Louise
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:59 AM
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Default Re: Adjusting to blindness?

Niki gradually went blind, I didn't know it until she jumped up on the deck thinking it was our stairs.

I use my fingers to click for certain things to help her out, and she knows how many steps when I count outloud one-two-three-four.

Up now means obstacle like going up a curb and one always means a step down.

When we go to get in the suv I put her in position click my finger and say Up, Up then she will jump up. With her jump down I hold her lightly with her collar so she can tell how far the jump is, its the only big jump she has, but if I need to switch vehicles holding her collar lightly helps alot I think she knows from my hand on her collar to be careful with her jump.

The blind dogs group on yahoo is a good site for all the tips and tricks.

Dolly & Niki
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:32 PM
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Default Re: Dooley - cataracts are mature

Chris was diabetic for five years and blind for a little more than four. We were not warned that this might happen by the vet but learned about it online. We were absolutely devastated by his loss of sight as we had been trying everything we knew at the time to get him regulated and nothing had worked.

We were devastated. Chris was not.

Chris was a mellow dog who tended to take things in stride. But most dogs I've seen in going on seven years on forums for diabetic dogs have handled losing their vision the same way.

So yes, he bumped into things for a while and would get frustrated sometimes when he couldn't get where he wanted to go. But over the course of a few weeks he figured out his navigation skills - it's kind of like they draw a map in their brain and follow that and are capable of incredible feats of navigation in familiar territory. And then he basically just went on with his life as if he'd never been able to see.

He went on walks every day. He'd always had to be a leash-walked dog since he never had any self-control! We pointed him in a direction and he headed out and he figured we would guide him around obstacles. Which we mostly did - and he always forgave us and himself when we didn't.

He combed the beach, waded in the water, and even swam occasionally in the shallow part of the river on a long lead. He could find a stinky dessicated fish carcass faster than I could notice he'd found it.

He traveled 2,400 miles round trip with us one winter, staying in motels and doing his business in roadside motels' idea of a doggie bathroom area - some of the worst places ever for a dog to go to the bathroom! He played in the snow while we were in Montana...

Basically, he did 95% of the fun things he did before he lost his sight.

He navigated the house on his own. Tidily when he felt like it and using his pinball imitation when he didn't. I have some great videos of him barking to be let in the patio slider although he had missed it to the left by about five feet.

This is what most dogs do when they go blind.

Now if you had taken away Chris' sense of smell... that I think truly would have been devastating for him. For a while he had to wear an e-collar because of an eye problem and he used to plant that thing square on the ground around some delectable scent and let all those fumes, trapped inside the e-collar, waft straight up his black leathery nostrils and lord, he was in heaven!

I do think it would be more of an adjustment for the dog we have now, who is very visual. But I think he would do it. At the core of it, it's a love of life and a will to survive the drives the adaptability.

Hope that helps.

Natalie
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