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Caring for Service Dogs

Service dogs are dogs that are trained specifically to help or assist people with disabilities and with certain needs.

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Caring for service dogs

These people can have hearing/visual/mobility impairments and mental instabilities.

Dogs trained to be service dogs are typically Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds but really, any dog breed can be trained to be a service dog.

Service dogs are what certain people's wellness depend on. But to make sure that the mission of service dogs is put into action, their wellness also depends on us. Especially their eyes!

How do "eye" know when something's wrong?

Service dogs are still dogs too. And just like any other dog, they can experience a series of health issues - particularly eye diseases. Warning signs can be:

  • Abnormal eye discharge
  • Swelling
  • Third eyelid suddenly becomes visible
  • Change in eye color
  • Dog can't open one eye or both eyes properly
  • Flickering eyes
  • Pupil sizes are unequal (one being smaller or bigger than the other)
  • Cloudiness

If you notice any of these in your family member's/friend's service dog (assuming they are visually impaired or has a disability that prevent them from doing so), consult your veterinarian immediately.

Taking care of your service dog's eyes

A top-notch service dog is a dog with excellent eye vision. And to be able to keep his eye vision in tip-top shape, here are some of the most important things you can do.

Provide a healthy and balanced diet. Always make sure that you feed your family member's service dog with a diet that's full of proteins, and added with blueberries (that has carotenoids), pumpkin (that has free radicals and fiber), broccoli (source of lutein and zeaxanthin), eggs (rich in cycteine and sulphur) and other foods that maintains your dog's good vision. Also see to it that what you feed him is approved and recommended by his veterinarian.

Offer supplements. There are supplements that are good for your dog's vision and will help in taking good care of them. Furthermore, although service dogs are extremely trained to be calm in all situations, they can also get stressed out! They can get stressed when traveling, when meeting new people, arriving at unfamiliar places, etc. To get him to feel at ease in situations like these, offer him calming supplements that will help him relax and bid anxiety away.

Keep the 'bangs' short. If your service dog is a hairy one, make sure that you regularly trim the hair near the eyes as it can irritate your dog's eyes and prevent him to see some things in his way.

"Dogs trained to be service dogs are typically Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds but really, any dog breed can be trained to be a service dog."

Avoid using harsh and strong products. Make certain that what you use in your dog to keep him clean is mild and won't reach his eyes whenever taking a bath or every time you're applying it. These harsh soaps, treatments, and sprays cause redness and irritation when it gets in contact with the eyes!

Visit the vet regularly. The goal here is to make sure and support good ocular health for your service dog. All actively working service dogs can register at American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) website or in any of their facilities for them to be able to get free eye examinations in different animal eye care clinics. The ACVO started a national event in May 2008 that offers free eye-screening examinations for service dogs performed by certified veterinary ophthalmologists and it is being observed up to the present. This is why May is considered the #NationalServiceDogEyeExaminationMonth.

Service dogs are just like any other dogs that require love, care and attention for them to be able to perform their duties well and on to leading a happy life with and for our disabled and impaired loved ones.

"All actively working service dogs can register at American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) website or in any of their facilities for them to be able to get free eye examinations in different animal eye care clinics."