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Giving zinc and blueberries are just two natural ways to preserve your dog’s eyesight.
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As pet parents, most of us are aware that canines experience much of the world through their robust senses of smell and hearing. Well-known dog book author and neuropsychological researcher Stanley Coren notes that pups can have as many as 300 million nose-based scent receptors — whereas we human beings have a measly 5 million.
But canines do depend on their vision for general safety and day-to-day getting around, and the eye has a delicate structure that’s always susceptible to injury. I’ve had blind dogs and vision-impaired dogs, and it now looks as though my sweet Shih-Tzu mix is starting to experience age-related vision issues as well. Since everything from seasonal allergies to natural aging to systemic health issues can impact canine vision, it’s important to monitor your pup’s peepers on a regular basis.
When it comes to responsible treatment, I still believe that consulting with a trusted veterinarian is always the wisest approach. That said, however, pharmaceutical cocktails are rarely my first-line treatment of choice. There are many natural ways we pet parents can help support healthy vision in our pups, from the moment they become part of our family. These tactics often make an effective complement to standard veterinary checkups and care. In fact, they can sometimes eliminate the need for certain treatment modalities altogether. Get acquainted with some of these vision-friendly foods, compounds, and supplements.
First, the seriously simple solution. Chronically dry eyes can have a huge impact on vision clarity. So if you live in an especially hot, dry, or dusty climate, try a daily application of canine replacement tears like I-Drop Vet Plus Eye Lubricant or Nutrivet Dog Eye Rinse. The added moisture may also help aging pets enormously. Check with your vet for additional options.
This crucial mineral is thought to help protect the eye from inflammation and harmful light rays. Many holistic vets also claim that it can help slow the progression of vision loss due to several eye disorders. It’s naturally found in lentils, spinach, liver, and seafood. These can make great food-toppers for your furry friend.
This amino acid is found in meat and seafood, and helps protect the retina. Lack of taurine can actually lead to retinal degeneration, which may cause vision loss at any age. So if added moisture doesn’t seem to be helping, ask your vet about testing for taurine deficiency. If necessary, you can then ask about supplementing with products like PetAg Taurine Tablets.
Cold-water fish like salmon, sardines and cod are rich in Omega-3s — particularly DHA and EPA, which are critical for cellular regeneration. As my vet reminds me, about one-third of the fatty acids that make up the retina are comprised of DHA. Grizzly Salmon Oil is an easy way to supplement … and merely seeing the bottle prompts my pups to perform every trick they know. Dose carefully: Healthy pups can generally be given 100 to 150 mg EPA and DHA per 10 pounds of body weight each day.
Antioxidant-rich compounds like lutein , astaxanthin, and zeaxanthin are usually found in leafy greens and vibrantly colored fruits and veggies. They’re thought to help reduce the risk of cataracts and protect eyes from sun damage. Ask your vet about carotenoid-rich natural supplements, including Dr. Mercola Eye Support for Pets and Dr. Carol’s Complete Dog Eye Essentials.
Bilberry is much more than a blueberry wannabe. It contains essential nutrients that can assist with preserving eye focus and night vision. If your pooch is experiencing the very early stages of vision loss due to cataracts or macular degeneration, ask your vet if this whole food might make a sensible dietary support option.
These little indigo gems are a great source of carotenoids. They also contain zinc, selenium, and phytonutrients called anthocyanins, which have been shown to help support night vision. Plus, they’re packed with flavonoids like resveratrol and quercetin, which may help slow macular degeneration. And by the way (hint), many pups adore them.
The name is a dead giveaway, although this flowering plant is also called Euphrasia. Herbalists have used it medicinally since roughly the 1300s. Does your dog deal with annual allergies or occasional eye irritation? You can purchase eyebright in tea form, brew some up, and use soft cotton gauze to make a soothing topical compress. You can also sprinkle Eyebright on food in powder or tea form — but always, always consult a qualified animal nutritionist to determine optimal dosage. Your dog’s weight and current health status need to be carefully considered.
The takeaway? It’s not always necessary to fill up Fido’s bowl with a pile of pills. In collaboration with your vet, you can often “eye-dentify” several natural and whole-food solutions that can play a role in helping to preserve and protect your pup’s vision for years to come.
Marybeth lives in the Midwest with her wonderful husband, and her rescue dogs Grant and Maizy — all of them Heinz 57 mixed-breed types. A freelance writer and marketing consultant, she’s been rehabilitating severely abused rescues for over two decades. She’s currently working toward specialized certifications in animal nutrition counseling. Connect with her on LinkedIn or check out her family Instagram feed.
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