Retinal Degeneration in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

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Retinal degeneration in dogs is a medical condition that causes problems with the way a dog sees and can even lead to blindness. This happens when cells in the retina, classified as part of the dog’s central nervous system, break down.

This condition seems to affect some breeds more than others, including Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and Siberian Huskies.

If you see any signs that your dog might be developing eye problems, then you should consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and advice. Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms, causes and treatments of retinal degeneration in dogs.

Symptoms of Retinal Degeneration in Dogs

Retinal degeneration in dogs is a condition that can cause a range of symptoms. Some of the most commonly seen symptoms include:

  • Night blindness
  • Cataracts
  • Problems with correct vision in bright light
  • Loss of central (rather than peripheral) vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SDARS)
  • Canine obesity

Causes of Retinal Degeneration in Dogs

Close-up of a dog with eyesight problems having a dog check-up in a vet's office

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There are a number of causes of retinal degeneration in dogs. Some of the most common causes of the disease include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Abnormal development of the retina
  • Glaucoma
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • infections
  • Vitamin A and E deficiency
  • Metabolic problems

Additionally, the following dog breeds seem to be most prone to developing the disease:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Samoyeds
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Mastiffs
  • Irish Setters
  • Cockers
  • Siberian Huskies

Treatments for Retinal Degeneration in Dogs

If you suspect your dog is developing retinal degeneration, then your veterinarian will want to perform a physical exam on your dog and ask about his medical history and any recent incidents that may have caused the disease.

The veterinarian will then perform blood and urine tests. They will also focus on examining your dog’s eyes, which will include looking for any abnormal signs in the retina.

Unfortunately there is no real remedy for this state. The drugs did not prove helpful.

However, in some cases, changing your dog’s diet to address any nutritional deficiencies can help manage the condition, and switching to a low-fat diet can often lead to positive results.

In general, dogs diagnosed with this condition will need to be provided with a living space that takes into account any loss of vision. Your veterinarian can advise you further on specific steps to take, including blocking off dangerous areas and maintaining a consistent environment.

Fortunately, the disease does not cause pain in dogs, even when it causes blindness. Dogs that lose their sight can also lead normal, healthy lives with proper care.

Keep up with regular vet visits so your vet can monitor your dog’s condition and watch for signs of other eye problems, such as glaucoma, cataracts, or uveitis.

Does your dog suffer from retinal degeneration? Did your vet recommend any dietary changes to help you? So tell us all about it in the comments below.