Sometimes going blind is a natural part of old age. Other times, blindness is the result of heartbreaking genetic conditions that are passed on at birth. The incredible thing about dogs is that they are so resilient. When they lose their vision, they don’t simply quit trying to survive and they can certainly survive with total blindness, especially if we give them a little help. Such was the story for Maximus, the black lab that belonged to one of our bosses, Matt.
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What Are Tracerz?
Tracerz is the result of Matt working to find a way that would help Maximus to retain his independence around the house and be able to stay safe by avoiding potentially dangerous situations, like stairs.
Matt and Dave, founders of Innovet, believe strongly that pet products should be safe and natural. This makes them ideal for pets and also ideal for the environment. It’s important that we all do our part to take care of the earth because we only have this one planet.
The guys want to make sure that they take care of this planet and they only develop and sell products that are earth-friendly.
This is why every product they formulate is made with the environment and your pet in mind. If it isn’t safe, it doesn’t pass the test to be sold by them. A lot of research goes into every single product on their website and Tracerz is no different. It was created to fill a need and a niche that no one else was filling, a natural, eco-friendly way to help blind dogs.
Together, they have worked diligently to create eco-friendly products that are affordable and effective. They don’t sell inferior products. In fact, they go out of their way to ensure that the best ingredients are found to include in all of their formulations. Why? Because of Maximus and the other pets they’ve loved for many years. Every product they create is created with their own pets in mind.
Many of them, specifically developed for issues their own pets have had.
Tracerz is made with eco-friendly materials and essential oils that are harmless to animals. The scent pad is designed with one of six different scents in each packet. Your dog can learn that one scent warns them of a wall or corner where walls meet. Another scent warns them of a piece of furniture that may move from time to time. Another scent warns them of danger, such as stairs. Within no time at all, they are remembering where obstacles are and walking around with more confidence. Then, they quickly move to playing again, acting as if they can still see just as well as they ever did. It’s amazing what a little confidence can do for their emotional well-being.
Matt knew that Tracerz were part of the solution that allowed his dog to adjust to the sudden blindness that overcame him, due to Progressive Retinal Atrophy, also known as PRA. PRA is a sad genetic condition that is avoidable if dogs are tested before entering into breeding programs.
Maximus responded really well to the Tracerz and at that point in his life, he was an otherwise healthy dog. He was only 7 and he lived for another 9 years as a blind dog. He remained happy and well-adjusted for the rest of his life and he even battled cancer too, twice - and he beat it both times!
PRA is genetic and it programs the rods that are part of the rod and cone cells in the eyes, to degenerate. It’s almost like a self-destruct programming that they have. Suddenly, the self-destruct is triggered and dogs begin to lose their vision. Sometimes it happens very quickly while other dogs may fight the condition for many years with good antioxidant supplementation.
PRA is no longer a completely devastating diagnosis, but it is very likely that your pet will lose their vision in the end. When, and if, this happens, Tracerz are there to help them make the transition to using their noses more than their vision. Ideally, you can start using Tracerz before they have lost total vision, but even if they have gone completely blind when you start using them, they will learn how to find their way with the scent markers.
Many dogs lose their vision slowly and progressively as Maximus did. PRA is this type of disease and if you begin working with Tracerz and your dog before he is completely blind, his transition will be easier and he’ll be less frustrated.
Tracerz is easy to use and gentle on the environment, giving you a safe and natural way to assist your dog in creating a mental roadmap of your home or office in his mind. He has an incredible ability to read smells and remember them. Your family isn’t exposed to any harmful chemicals, even if they come into direct contact with Tracerz. It’s completely safe around children and other pets in the home.
The canine sense of smell is far superior to their vision to start with. The average dog can smell anywhere from 5000 to 10,000 times better than humans do. It’s been said that a male dog can smell a female dog in heat up to five miles away.
So, while you won’t smell Tracerz unless you put your nose close to them, your dog is capable of smelling them from an extraordinary distance. He’ll know when he’s coming near a stairwell or a potential hazard. He’ll know which way the front door is when it’s time to go potty as well.
How It Works
Each package of Tracerz comes with 20 Tracerz, 8 of which are scented to mark paths. They have a long-lasting scent and they are small enough that you can easily place them in locations that are inconspicuous. Please, make sure to test the material you are affixing them to as they can permanently adhere to some things, making removal very difficult.
They’ll stick to plastic, plaster, wood, metal, and even carpeting. When the smell begins to wane, simply scratch them like an old scratch and sniff sticker from your childhood and they’ll come back to life. Replace them every six months for the maximum benefit for your dog.
You will want to do some training with your dog and this is both for helping him to understand the significance of the Tracerz but also to help him remain safe and under voice control. Choose an alert word or phrase that you’ll use to teach him he is about to step into harm’s way.
“Watch it” or “Danger” are often used and your dog can learn the meaning of them. If you need help in teaching him, seek the assistance of a good dog trainer who has experience working with animals who are visually impaired.
Tracerz uses essential oils in different scents to teach your dog pathways within the home. With 6 different choices of scents in each package, you are able to use specific smells to teach them they are near a stairwell, or that they are approaching a movable piece of furniture that is in their normal path. They will learn to slow down, use caution when moving ahead, and no longer slam into walls and corners of walls that adjoin each other.
It will give them the ability to be independent again, once they’ve made the transition and learned what the smells mean. It will give them peace of mind as well, allowing them to ease their own anxieties and you’ll need to be there for them, as a crutch, less and less. In fact, some dogs learn quickly and race around their homes so easily that many people visiting don’t ever realize the dog cannot see.
Living With A Blind Pet
Dogs can find themselves lost in their home. Cats can too. A lost dog may bark for help and a cat might meow. They might also wander for hours, looking for their water dish or the litter box, their bed or the door to the back yard.
Some animals will become depressed and they might also begin showing symptoms of anxiety. Being left alone could be terrifying for them and it is essential that you do all you can to help them adjust and acclimate to life without their eyes to rely on.
Dogs and cats both have a terrific sense of smell. Teaching them to follow specific scent markers is a great way to help them learn the pathways through the home. They are also very capable of using their noses to develop a very clear, and often amazingly precise, roadmap of the home within their minds. It’s almost like they have internal GPS once they’ve learned the way.
Animals who are blind are disadvantaged in their communication with other animals. Most of their communication is through body language, therefore your dog will not be able to see another animal’s communication. When there is an aggressive animal near them, they could be in danger of making the wrong move. It’s essential that you supervise them appropriately and that your blind pet is always kept on a short lead out in public and when around other animals.
When another animal approaches them, they may also become more defensive, feeling their disadvantage and not knowing if they are being threatened or if they are safe.
Dogs and cats have a very good sense of hearing but often have difficulty in determining which direction a sound is coming from. They have always relied upon their eyes to tell them which direction it came from. This means that when they are outdoors, they can be in grave danger. They might hear the car coming, but not know from which direction or how to avoid it. You must be their eyes in these situations from now on.
Some people recommend that you have a radio or television on for them so that when they awaken from a nap they are able to reorient to their own location quickly. Children should never be allowed to disturb a sleeping animal but especially be cautious of a sleeping blind animal. They may startle easier and tend to be more reactive.
Use caution, do all you can to create a safe environment for them and understand that they may feel a period of extreme frustration. How would you feel if you suddenly, or even slowly, had gone blind? It’s terrifying for most of us to comprehend.
Some of us can’t even imagine how frightened we would be. The things you’ve always done will suddenly be more difficult and you won’t know when you are in grave danger. All the things you are imagining about how you would feel are the ways that your pet also will feel.
Give them some extra love and compassion at this time. Keep a closer eye on them than usual and make sure that you are close to them during their transition. They might need you and they will feel more relaxed if they know you are near. They can smell your presence and that will be comforting to them. Before you know it, they’ll be wandering around and exploring again. As they develop confidence, and you feel more comfortable with their ability to maneuver their environment, life can return to a new normal for all of you.
What Is In Tracerz?
As we said before, there are six different scents, using different essential oils, in each package. A Tracerz patch is a little like a scratch and sniff sticker that has been infused with a different essential oil for different situational usage.
The scent remains strong for as long as 6 months and if it begins to fade, you can certainly scratch it with your finger and reinvigorate the smell but you should replace the sticker at 6 months.
The package instructions suggest the possible uses for each scent as follows:
- Scent 1 - Earthy Mint - Obstacles, walls, and wall corners
- Scent 2 - Spicy Mint - Obstacles, furniture
- Scent 3 - Sharp Floral - Obstacles, furniture
- Scent 4 - Spicy Vanilla - Movable obstacles, closet doors, chairs
- Scent 5 - Earthy Citrus - Top of stairs
- Scent 6 - Spicy Clove - Doors and entrances
Tracerz doesn’t contain any chemical or pheromone designed to attract or repel dogs, it is only a scent that can be taught to associate with a specific scenario. Please, see our website for more information on how to place the Tracerz, along with suggestions for locations.
When you apply the Tracerz, be aware that it may become permanently stuck to the surface of some things. It is advisable that you test a small sample if you care about the object you are sticking it to. Remember that it will need to be replaced in six months. These will stick to the carpet.
The reasons that a dog or cat can go blind are many. It can be the result of a genetic condition, an illness, even an accident that causes surgical removal to become necessary. They can adapt and they are often healthy in all other ways. Support them and make the home a safe haven for them. It’s a small thing to do on your part that makes a dramatic positive impact on their life.
Understand that there may be some behavioral issues at first. The transition period will be a time of anxiety for them. They’ll need some extra leeway and compassion at this time. Each dog has their own personality and will react in their own way. Some dogs will barely slow down and you’ll feel like they never had any emotional trauma at all. Others will be slower to adapt and more cautious.
Some dogs will behave in ways that make you want to go have their vision checked again because they race and play through the house as if nothing ever happened. This is just a testament to their resilience. They are very adaptive and you should also feel good that you were able to help them in this transition.
Matt and Dave wanted to be a part of this transition and designed Tracerz so that they were affordable, long-lasting, easy to use, and safe, natural, and environmentally friendly. They care about pets because they have pets of their own. Nearly all of their products have been developed because their own pets needed something special that wasn’t readily available through other channels.
InnovetPet proudly formulates, develops, and markets products that are only natural. They are always safe and put your pets and their health first. Everything is designed to be affordable so that it is accessible to all pets and their owners, regardless of budget. All dogs deserve to live healthier, safer lives.
Pet products should also be safe and manufactured in ways that have accountability and put pets and their family’s well-being first. Matt and Dave focus on products for the hard to treat pet, that will bring integrity back to the pet care product market. This is a mission and they take it seriously, because of dogs like Maximus.