It’s fairly difficult to estimate how many of our dogs can’t see and live with either partial blindness or our fully blind, but the closest estimate is over 300,000. That number is quite shocking, but for whatever reason, it’s not talked about. And it’s not just the statistics that are difficult to find, but almost everything associated with blindness in dogs is arduous. From finding tips on how to help your pooch deal with their lack of sight, to even finding a product that can help – the rarity of the last one is truly troubling.
There are a number of causes for blindness:
- Genetics – The number of dogs born with poor sight or no sight at all has rapidly come down as we are being smarter about inbreeding – you would be surprised how often it happens in dogs and the AKC has little qualms about it. Dogs that are bred for “flashy” coats have a higher risk of blindness because extensive inbreeding was done to promote the coat.
- Old age – this is a huge cause of partial blindness
- Medical side effects – rare, but a possibility
- Infections – also rare, but not out of the question
How Can We Help Our Blind Best Friends
Not too long ago, you could search the internet up and down and the best you could find would be some helpful tips for getting your pup around. Recently, however, the invention of scent markers have been making a lot of progress, and are the first true product created that can help get your pup around – this time scent instead of sight.
We are all aware of how great a dog’s smelling ability is and it only makes sense that one of the best ways to help a blind dog is to help them refocus their ability to navigate around by teaching them to rely on their powerful nasal capabilities.
This idea is what lead to the creation of scent markers for blind dogs in the first place.
Tracerz® Extended Release Scent Markers for Blind Dogs
Innovet Pet created the first, and currently only, scent markers available to blind dogs. Tracerz work by being broken down into different smells that will be used for different items inside and outside the house. This will let the dog know and remember the layout, and teach them to associate different smells with different obstacles.
For example, the earthy mint marker can be placed on walls and wall corners, while the sharp floral marker can be placed on obstacles like furniture. The majority of tracerz will be attached to obstacles so your pup can decipher different obstacles, and it will let them form a better mental layout of the house.
You will then use a distinctive smell to label doors and entrances that will make paths for your pup to get around. Using tracerz to outline both obstacles and paths will give your pup the confidence to move around and even play again.
Tracerz are contain a calming blend of essential oils that are distinctive enough from other common smells in the house, while remaining pleasant both to you and your dog. So no need to worry about conflicting smells.
Setting Up Your House
Tracerz are less than 1” in diameter, and have an adhesive back that will easily attach to walls, furniture, carpet, doorways, glass, vinyl, etc. Since they are so small, you can easily hide them under tables, ledges, etc. Remember, your dog just needs to be able to smell the tracerz which they easily can do – what’s really nice is you’ll only be able to smell the tracerz when you’re up close to it.
Owners will want to avoid getting the oil on their hands as you’ll probably be stuck with the smell for a couple of days. But if they didn’t leave your hands smelling after making contact, then that means they are ineffective as the smell just easily washes away. Tracerz are made to last more than just a few days, so unless you want to smell like spicy mint, delicate handling is advised.
Using Tracerz Scents Outside
Blind dogs can navigate much better outside than inside, and instead of using tracerz outside, it’s recommended to use physical barriers to protect your pup, especially if you have a pool. Tracerz can be used outside but rain, snow, and even a strong wind can affect the smell that’s emitting from the Tracerz. That can throw off even the best trained blind dogs and create confusion a lot of confusion for them.
Additional Tips for Blind Dogs and Using Tracerz
First, even with Tracerz, it’s best to keep your room’s configuration fairly set in stone – rearranging furniture is tricky for any blind dog. Tracerz are great, however, if you need to move your furniture around.
Second, scent is always better for navigating around compared to sound, because sound bounces around and this makes it poor for mapping and navigating. However, leaving the TV or radio on when you’re away can help them become aware of their surroundings when they wake up.
Third, it might be difficult to watch but you should not help physically guide your dog around the house, and this goes double for those with small dogs. It’s hard, but if you pick your pup up to help them around, they won’t learn how to do it on their own, and this can create problems when you’re not there to help them. Instead, of physically helping them, teach them the command “watch” to use when they approach a dangerous obstacle – again try to use it sparingly at first.
Last, keep your floors clean as tracerz can’t really be used for wires, blankets, etc.
Where to Find Tracerz and More Tips for Using Them
You can purchase Tracerz straight from Innovet Pet – as well you’ll find more information on the product page and be sure to check out their blog for articles on Tracerz. As well, Innovet Pet has a social media group if you have more questions and want to talk to other owners who have blind dogs and use Tracerz.