Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pet eye loss: They will adjust, if you let them

Lucy demonstrating what it is like to live with no eyes

I post a lot of pictures of Lucy on this blog. This is, in part, because I think she's beautiful and I like to take pictures of pretty things.

But the other reason is more subtle.

Many people think that dogs and cats are simply so disfigured and so enfeebled by an eye removal that they simply cannot conceive of it. These owners often choose to euthanize the animal, rather than allowing a surgery to be performed.

Case in point: Sadie was recently given to a local pug rescue, as her owner chose to euthanize her rather than dealing with her infected eye with enucleation. The veterinarian who was asked to perform the euthanasia convinced the owners to turn her over to rescue instead.

I am thankful that this veterinarian chose to step in and rescue Sadie. Many veterinarians do this, which allows them to save the animal and provide the former owners with the valuable lessons that animals aren't to be discarded when they are sick. But I digress...

Lucy was born without her eyes, and she knows no other life. But she tears about the house like a normal cat. In fact, she catches bugs better than my other resident in-house cats. She can live without her eyes. Others can, too.

Now I know that an adult animal who loses one eye, or two, does go through an adjustment period that may be slightly stressful. I have read reports of dogs becoming slightly more fearful or nippy as they adjust. But the point is that the animals do adjust. They compensate for the reduced vision (or complete loss of vision) and continue on with their lives. Owners learn to adjust to the animal's new appearance as well.

It would be ideal if eye injuries didn't result in euthanasia. To make that happen, those of us with blind or disabled animals need to spread the word that life continues after the surgical site heals.