SARDS is Incurable

Question:

We discovered a few weeks ago our Brittany dog, Val, is experiencing SARDS, Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome. I am devastated at how quickly he is losing his eyesight. He is only 8 years old and in good health otherwise.

 

It is difficult to see how confused he is. His activity level has dropped dramatically. He used to love to hunt lizards but now I’m afraid he’ll scratch his eye since he can’t see if something is going to poke him.

 

Dr. Nichol:

I’m really sorry to hear about Val’s blindness. Like anybody who loses his sight your boy can become depressed and afraid. There is a lot you can do to help him adjust.

 

SARDS really is sudden; it can render a dog blind in several days to a few weeks. According to Dr. Gavin Kennard, of Eye Care for Animals in Albuquerque, it usually occurs in overweight middle aged females. Any breed can be affected. While the cause is still unknown many affected dogs drink and urinate excessively and gain weight. Onset may follow a stressful event. To make a specific diagnosis a veterinary ophthalmologist will perform an electroretinogram. Sadly, there is no cure.

 

Val can relearn to navigate your house. Start by confining him to a smaller area so he can figure it out one room at a time. If you put lavender in one room and chamomile in another he’ll know where he is. Prevent his access to sharp objects and swimming pools.

 

Val’s unsighted eyes need extra care. They’ll be prone to drying because he’ll keep them open more. There will also be the risk of corneal injuries. Dr. Kennard recommends artificial tears a few times daily and Doggles when hiking. You can find helpful advice from other dog owners facing similar challenges on Blinddogs.com.