SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

SARDS, as the name suggests, is associated with vision. Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome is the least known disease, but it has a significant impact on your dog’s visionary power. It usually takes 20 to 30 days to blind your dog completely, but it can also happen overnight. Until now (when I am writing this article), dogs are the animals that are vulnerable to this disease, and there are no signs to claim that this disorder can also affect humans.

The article will provide sufficient information regarding SARDS, its causes, and its symptoms.

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SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

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What is sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS)?

SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

The disease affects the retina present on the back side of the animal’s eyes, which works like a film. Damage to this part exposes the animal to irreversible or permanent blindness within a few days, and sometimes overnight, as the animal (dogs) cannot bear further vision loss.

What causes the SARDS?

SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

Even though various scientists have proposed numerous theories, the disorder is still considered idiopathic (a disease whose cause is unknown). However, some theories in this regard are;

  • Some suggest that the disease is due to autoimmune inflammation in the retina.
  • Another theory says that the disorder is neuroendocrine (related to hormones).

Yet, both are theories and are not conclusive. So, nobody can claim the exact cause of this disorder.

Adult dogs aged 8 to 10 years are more likely to get this disease. Blindness associated with SARDS occurs due to the abnormal functioning of receptor cells present in the retina. And gradually, the retina stops working, causing complete blindness in your dog.

Though it is noticed that the disease is more common in female dogs than male dogs, the cause behind this biased attitude towards female canines is still unknown.

Which breeds are more likely to get SARDS?

SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

We have noticed that some breeds are more vulnerable to sudden acquired retinal syndrome. These include;

  • Miniature schnauzers
  • Maltese
  • Shih Tzu
  • Spaniels
  • Beagles
  • Springer spaniels
  • Pugs
  • Datchshunds
  • Cocker spaniels

And many more.

What are the signs of SARDS?

SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

A dog usually does not remain stable if he has lost his vision completely. Some owners also report an 80 percent loss in vision, which means they are left with little power to see their surroundings. The signs a dog shows when he gets SARDS are;

  • Pupils fail to dilate when exposed to light, as they normally do.
  • The dog used to stand in one place for several minutes due to a lack of vision.
  • Some owners report losing their senses of smell and hearing, as well as their eyesight.
  • Dogs become reluctant to walk upstairs and downstairs.
  • Dogs deny going for walks with their owners.
  • If your dog has SARDS, his overall activities will be suppressed.

How does a veterinarian identify SARDS?

SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

Ophthalmologic examination is the method that is used to recognize SARDS in dogs.

By taking various tests, your veterinarian evaluates the movement of pupils and visual reflexes of your dog’s eye. Nevertheless, your dog also depicts several other abnormal behaviors like standing in a place for a long time or lack of running and frequently striking walls, reflecting that your dog is suffering from SARDS.

Alternation inside the eyes and changes in Blood vessels are also detection methods of SARDS. Such changes can be due to SARDS, but it is not the hard and fast rule. So, to identify it, you must consider several factors.

What is electroretinography?

SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome) in dogs

The best way to diagnose SARDS is to perform electroretinography. In this test, the veterinarians shine a bright light in front of the dog’s eyes to check the electrical activity of the retina. If the retina does not show any activity, the dog is diagnosed as SARDS-affected.

However, in most cases, veterinarians diagnose the disease based on previous clinical history and symptoms.

Although blood tests have nothing to do with SARDS, vets still use them to determine whether your dog has SARDS or if he has another eye disorder.

How to treat SARDS?

Unfortunately, there are no treatments for SARDS at present. Veterinarians usually give certain supplements and medicines, including vitamins, but nothing has proven to be successful in this regard.

However, being an intelligent creature, your dog learns to live with this disability within 4 to 8 months—nevertheless, this demand some extra care from you.

How to care for SARDS-affected dogs?

Certain safety measures should be given to your animal as he has lost his complete vision, so one should be careful in this regard;

  1. Provide extra safety and care to your dog.
  2. Create a fence around your dog’s residence so he will not get out of it.
  3. When going outside, always keep your dog on a leash.

Many owners report being surprised to see their dogs living normal lives in the absence of vision.

Does SARDS cause a dog’s life to be cut short?

Unfortunately, SARDS has neither a confirmed cure nor a way to avoid it, and blindness is irreversible. The good news is that SARDS does not cause discomfort in dogs and does not shorten their lives.

Frequently asked questions.

Which poisons can lead your dog to SARDS?

Different medical experts try to discover the actual reasons for SARDS. however, up till now, the doctors suggest there is an unknown etiology behind SARDS. Yet, we can assume that there are certain autoimmune issues, environmental factors, disturbance in sexual hormones, and Cushing disease might be the reason for SARDS in dogs.

Do SARDS patients gain weight?

SARDS is normally accompanied by weight gain and an increase in hunger. Moreover, sometimes dogs start to intake more water. Blood tests indicate that these problems are due to disturbances in endocrine or hormonal disease.

How to protect dogs from SARDS?

Unfortunately, medical science is failed to cure SARDS in dogs; however, after a few months, your dog learns to live his life without eyesight. Yet, his blindness cannot be reverse.


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