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Blind dog goes ‛blind’ again

As veterinarians, we live for those patients that come along every once in a while and make us go “hmmm”.

One patient that I will never forget – we'll call him Fluffy to protect his anonymity – once really opened my eyes, rather ironically.

You see, Fluffy had been blind for years. He suddenly went blind after developing an autoimmune condition for which there is unfortunately no treatment. However Fluffy was very well adjusted to life as a blind dog.

A dog's other senses – like their sense of smell and hearing – are so incredible that they usually compensate very well for being blind. A dog's sense of smell is tens of thousands of times stronger than ours.

Fluffy had no trouble navigating his house. Until one day, his owner came to me concerned that Fluffy had seemingly “gone blind again”. He was disorientated, bumping into things, and not even able to find his food and water.

I was stumped. Fluffy was already blind, how could he become blind all over again? Was he going senile? He was still only a young dog. What had changed?

One thing had changed in Fluffy's house recently. Fluffy's owner had started using an essential oil diffuser and Fluffy had indeed gone blind as a result. But this time he was nose-blind. His very sensitive nose was being bombarded and his sense of smell, that he relied on completely to navigate his world, was completely overwhelmed.

Fluffy's owner stopped using the essential oil diffuser and within a couple of days, Fluffy's behaviour went back to normal. Phew!

The trouble with “essential oils” is that they are really not essential for you and especially not for your pet. The therapeutic use of essential oils is known as aromatherapy, which can be considered a form of alternative medicine.

The trouble with the term 'alternative' means that it is lacking scientific evidence for its use – otherwise it would just be called medicine. Essential oils can trigger asthma symptoms particularly in cats (and in asthmatic people like myself).

Cats especially are very sensitive to essential oil toxicity from grooming and ingesting the oil particles that accumulate on their paws and fur, indications of which can include drooling, vomiting, neurological signs, breathing problems and even liver failure.

My advice to anyone with pets is just to steer clear of the smelly stuff!

Erin Jackson is a home-grown Bermudian veterinarian, which was always her dream from the age of 3. Dr Erin graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in London in 2013 and has been working in Bermuda since then. She joined the CedarTree Vets team in 2018. Dr Erin particularly enjoys surgery and dentistry and is a self-confessed crazy cat lady with a menagerie of kitties of her own at home

For a while CedarTree veterinarian Erin Jackson was stumped by Fluffy, a blind dog who became “blind” again

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Published June 10, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated June 10, 2021 at 8:19 am)

Blind dog goes ‛blind’ again

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