Is it Cruel to Keep a Blind Dog Alive (+ Are Blind Dogs Happy)?

Is it Cruel to Keep a Blind Dog Alive

Is your aging dog going blind? Or perhaps one of the puppies in your litter was born blind? Whether it’s a senior dog or a new puppy coming into the world, the prospect of them being blind can be daunting. You might think it’s cruel to let your blind dog continue.

You could be considering euthanasia if you are worried your blind dog cannot be happy… but what is the truth about keeping blind dogs alive, and is it truly cruel? Well, I decided to talk to vets and owners or blind dogs… but what follows is still my personal opinion.

Is it cruel to keep a blind dog alive? It is not necessarily cruel to keep a blind dog alive. Most vets say dogs cope well if they go blind or are born blind. Owners in the main also say that dogs adapt well to losing their eyesight and continue to live a full, happy lives once they are used to being blind.

I don’t believe you should put a blind dog to sleep unless there are other health complications meaning their quality of life is completely reduced, and they also have pain.

Is it humane to put a blind dog down?

The act of euthanizing a blind dog should mean it’s a painless process for them. But just because it is a humane act, that doesn’t mean putting the blind dog down was necessary.

During my research and putting shout outs on social media I spoke to plenty of owners of dogs who are blind and appear to be very happy with life.

The owners say that they could not contemplate having their blind dog put down, and believe it’s not cruel to keep their pet alive.

I also came across a few dogs who had lost sight in one eye owing to an injury caused during a fight with another dog or some kind of accident.

I was amazed at how well they adapt to living with one eye. But what happens when a dog loses sight in both eyes? This can be the case in older dogs or if a dog has an underlying medical condition.

can a blind dog be happy
Blind dogs can be just as happy as a ones with full vision (Image via

My research on the topic found that dogs take their blindness all in their stride! It appears that dogs probably do know that they are blind and learn how to work around the new impairment.

Of course, our dogs will adapt quicker if the vision loss is gradual, so it would be very cruel if you were to put down a blind dog who had grown used to the vision loss. It should not stop you from keeping your dog if they suddenly lose their eyesight.

As expected, you may just have to give them an extra helping hand to adjust to the loss.

Do dogs know they are blind?

Congenital eye conditions could cause a puppy to be born with vision loss. But dogs are amazing creatures when it comes to adapting to blindness. If your dog was born blind, they won’t know the difference.

In cases like that, the dog will not know that he or she is blind… they will not understand what vision is. If you don’t have something, you can’t miss it.

A blind puppy simply relies on their great sense of smell and hearing to navigate their world. They’ll not even be aware that they’re not “seeing” the world with their eyes.

So, if you’re think it’s cruel to keep a blind puppy alive, please think again.

A puppy born blind is able to function just as well as their siblings who have normal eyesight. If the puppy loses his eyesight soon after birth, he’s also able to adjust quickly and live a normal life.

But do dogs know they are blind if they had vision before? That’s what I tried to find out next.

Do dogs know when they go blind?

Most dogs who lose their eyesight gradually adapt to blindness well without too many issues. However, if your dog suddenly loses their vision because of an injury, they may be more aware of knowing that they are now blind. They might not be able to see as far towards you, or respond as they once did.

Sudden vision loss could cause your dog to become anxious as they don’t understand why they keep bumping into things, become clumsy, and not able to find their food or water bowls or toys.

This could lead to confusion and they may even become depressed and skittish.

This is when, you as your dog’s trusted two-legged companion, can help your dog transition comfortably to his new state of being.

What do dogs think when they go blind?

Fortunately, most times, dogs are accepting of their vision loss (some have better eyesight than others). If they’re in an environment that’s familiar and comfortable, then your dog will not think much about going blind.

Of course, as discussed above, some dogs who have sudden vision loss may battle initially.

If your dog has always been an easy-going dog, secure in their home, and well-loved by you then losing their vision won’t be such a big deal for them.

Dogs don’t waste time thinking about what was or what will be (like us humans!) and instead live in the moment.

A dog who goes blind will simply rely on his other senses to get him through his daily activities and not put much thought into the prospect of going blind.

Can a blind dog be happy?

Yes, blind dogs can be happy – especially so if you make sure they have all the things they need.

keep blind dog alive
This blind dog is very happy despite the vision loss (Image via

Some dogs might not know any different. If you can give your blind dog a home, love, comfort, warmth, food and some play then there’s not reason for them to not be happy with life.

How to keep a happy blind dog

Whatever the reason for your dog’s loss of eyesight, you can do a lot to help him adjust to his blindness. Here are some great tips to help you make your sure your blind dog is happy and content – and kept alive!

1. Keep your home environment familiar

Whether your dog’s loss of vision is gradual or sudden, it’ll help to keep everything in their home environment familiar. Don’t be tempted to suddenly change the furniture around or to move your dog’s food and water bowls somewhere else.

By keeping things consistent in the home, your dog will remember where everything is. This will help prevent him from bumping into things or losing his way around the house. In turn, this will help to minimize his levels of anxiety or confusion.

2. Secure the outside environment

Make sure there’s nothing in the garden that could cause your dog injury if he walks into it. Keep the grass and bushes trimmed and fence off any areas that could be dangerous. This includes the pool, areas with steep slopes or drops, big holes, and ponds.

Walk around your garden and imagine what could be hazardous for your blind dog.

Remember to go down to their eye level and look out for any objects at this level that could cause them harm.

3. Use scents

You could add some scent to your dog’s toys, food, and water bowls to help him find it easier.

Essential oils work well here and are generally safe to use. Add a few drops to the toys or the outside of the bowls and introduce your dog to these smells so he associates them with the objects.

If your dog loves to play fetch, you could add some scents to his favorite ball or frisbee. It won’t take him long to sniff out his toy whenever you throw it for him.

4. Be aware of stairs and glass doors

Your blind dog may find handling stairs challenging until he gets used to them again with his vision loss. Consider carpeting the steps or adding traction grips to give your blind dog more reassurance while navigating the stairs.

You’ll need to be patient and spend time encouraging him up and down the stairs until he gains more confidence. You could use his favorite treats to motivate him to get up and down the stairs on his own.

You also might need to leave glass windowed doors open, as they might not see the glass.

5. Use sounds

Putting bells on other pets in the home will prevent your blind dog from suddenly being startled by their presence. You could also place the water bowl close to a fountain in the garden. The trickling sound will help your dog find his way to his water bowl.

Using heaver footsteps when walking is another way of alerting your dog you’re close by and talking gently will also let him know it’s you in the area.

6. Train with a leash

Use a leash to train your blind dog to familiarize himself with the home and outside environment.

Walk around with your dog and help him to use his sense of smell and hearing to gauge what is around him. Walk him between furniture in different rooms and through doorways and gates.

Walking with a leash will give your blind dog a sense of security as he learns his way around without his eyesight. It won’t take long for your dog to rely totally on his sense of smell and hearing.

7. Teach your dog to be independent

When your dog goes blind, it’s very tempting to carry him around everywhere. However, this is not a good idea as your dog will never learn to navigate by himself. Instead, encourage him to rely on his other senses and train him to find his way independently.

Dogs adapt very quickly to losing their eyesight. While the first few weeks may be challenging for him, very soon he’ll be scooting around happily on his own with very little, if any help, from you.


I don’t believe that is it cruel to keep a blind dog. Dogs are very adaptable and can be perfectly happy with a loss of vision.

Just make their home comfortable and safe, and hopefully your dog will know he is blind and live a happy and fulfilling life.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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