First, I want to thank those that took the take time to share their stories. You gave me much needed support and encouragement during a very challenging time with my miniature schnauzer. I hope our story can help someone else.
Barney is a rescue we adopted in 2013; he’s between 7-10 yrs. In early July, he was diagnosed with Cushings and Diabetes. We got that under control by end of July. Then, on a camping trip in late August, he suddenly had trouble seeing and seemed disoriented and confused. I’d call his name and he’d walk away in the opposite direction. We thought he had a stroke.
We got him to the vet and found he had high pressure on his eyes, they were very irritated and he squinted because they hurt. I love our veterinarians, there are 3 in the practice and all of them are familiar with Barney. They tried various treatments over several weeks, but could not get the pressure down and stable. They even contacted an ophthalmologist and the veterinary department at UGA. The outcome was a double enucleation. My heart was broken for Barney. It was incredibly emotional for both my husband and me.
What I learned – dogs and cats can lose their vision overnight to glaucoma. Some lose it slowly, others within 24 hours. Glaucoma in animals is not uncommon. It’s more painful than it is for humans and it cannot be managed in the long term with drops. For animals, vision is the third most important sense. Scent is the first and hearing is second.
Our experience – the surgery was done in a day, Barney was kept overnight and released the next morning. The difficult moment was seeing him for the first time. I prepared myself as much as possible, but it was hard. There are no eye patches and his stitches were exposed. He didn’t have to wear a cone. He was given pain medication in the evenings and the stitches were in for 10 days.
After a few days, he did rub his eyes, I’m sure they itched as they began to heal. I distracted him with a treats and his pain medication helped at night. He slept hard and often, but never had a problem eating. I was like a helicopter mom for a few days. I didn’t want him running into things that might aggravate the wound area. (Prior to surgery, he was already learning to manage blindness and get down the layout of our house and yard.) As the days passed, he was getting back to the new normal and I began to relax a little more.
Some tips – don’t move furniture around right away. Push in chairs and keep primary paths free from obstructions. Use a leash for the first week or so when outside. It makes them feel secure until they regain their confidence. Talk to them a lot, they need to know where you are. I put a jingle bell on our other dog so Barney knows when he’s close or wants to follow him around. I even put one on my shoe when I work out in the yard and he follows me around just fine.
Barney is my rock star! He does almost everything as well as he did before losing his sight. He runs towards chipmunks and squirrels, barks at the mail person and still loves to hang his head out the window when riding in the car. I love that when I talk to him, his sweet little face still tilts towards me and his little stub of a tail wags happily. What he can’t do is see, but don’t tell him that.