Dogs can be nearsighted too
Q: I have noticed something unusual when I play fetch with my six-year-old Labrador. If I throw the ball a short distance, he has no trouble retrieving it. However, if I use a bat to send it really far out, he seems to lose sight of the ball. He heads out in the right direction, but then has to spend a long time searching for it. Could he be nearsighted? Is there anything I can do about this? Nirali Dey
Your dog could be nearsighted. In fact, both nearsightedness and farsightedness have been documented in dogs. Since they cannot read eye charts, animals’ eyesight cannot be measured using standard human vision tests. However, it is possible to measure nearsightedness and farsightedness using a series of lenses and a device called a retinoscope. Studies have been done on enough dogs to show that toy poodles and possibly English springer spaniels are predisposed to nearsightedness. Australian shepherds are more likely to be farsighted. Labrador retrievers most frequently have good vision, but there can be exceptions. Testing and treating for nearsightedness is possible through veterinary ophthalmologists (veterinary eye specialists). Even if you are not interested in going to such extreme lengths to test and treat your dog’s vision, you should take him to the vet if you are worried about his eyesight. A number of problems besides nearsightedness can affect vision. Some of them can be serious. A veterinarian should be able to determine whether there is anything to be worried about.
Q: I have a dog who is about 13 or 14 years old—no one in the family can remember when we got him. He came into our family as a puppy and has had a long and well-loved life. He has slight arthritis and trouble seeing. How long can he survive? Caroline
A dog with a proper, nutritious diet and exercise can live longer than one without! Cross breed dogs have a longer lifespan in comparison. Inbred dogs have a risk of carrying genes for illnesses that are common to that specific breed. When you have a senior dog, the best thing you can really do is to make him comfortable. You should still walk your senior dog, but make the walks shorter. You should even consider a harness instead of a collar to help reduce neck strain. Groom frequently, as simple processes like brushing can increase circulation and help your dog’s overall skin condition. Regular grooming also gives you the chance to inspect from head to tail, checking for any unusual bumps, sores, or rashes. Be considerate if your dog is losing his sight. Basically, don’t rearrange your house, as your dog no longer has clear eyesight, and the new obstacles can cause him to fall and cause an injury. Even if your dog loses his sight completely, he’ll remember the general layout of the house, and shouldn’t have any problems getting around. You should consider blocking access to the upstairs or downstairs portion of your house, depending on which area is the most used. This will prevent any use of the stairs, which will only put joints, bones, and muscles under more strain.