Canine Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited non painful disease which causes degeneration of the retina and irreversible blindness. Most breeds, i.e. Beagles, Border Collies, and Borzoi are affected at 6 to 8 years of age. Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters, and Akitas can be affected at 1 to 3 years of age. There is no treatment for any form of Retinal Degeneration but this disease can be diagnosed with a test called an Electroretinography (ERG). Dogs with a normal ERG can be certified free of heritable eye disease through the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).
Signs of Canine PRA
Depending on the rate of progression, signs may vary. In general, your dog’s eyes appear to be normal. There is no pain, redness, squinting, tearing or any other outward abnormality. Owners may notice a personality change in their dog such as reluctance in going outside especially in the evening, going downstairs in dim light, or being uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. This is because initially the disease mimics night blindness.
Pet owners may or may not notice dilated pupils. Eventually complete blindness results. Occasionally cataracts develop in some dogs. In dogs that develop cataracts, a lens implant may restore vision for a limited time period.
Diagnosis of Canine PRA
Diagnosis is made by an examination of the eye using a test called an Electroretinography. A board certified veterinary eye specialist called an ophthalmologist is the most qualified person to deal with this disease.
Treatment of Canine PRA
Sadly there is no treatment for this disease. There is also no way to slow its progression and most dogs become completely blind in both eyes.
Blind dogs like blind people adapt to their surroundings and are able to lead remarkably normal lives as long as for example, pet owners do not rearrange the furniture too often or subject their dogs to unfamiliar environments.
Prevention of Canine PRA
Breeders should certify dogs are free of heritable canine eye disease by having proper eye testing done on the bitch and sire through CERF prior to breeding. Dogs that cannot be certified free of heritable eye disease should not be bred. DNA testing is now available to detect this disease in puppies.
Traditional Therapy for Canine PRA: None
Complementary Dog PRA Treatments
Homeopathic Dog PRA Remedies
Conium maculatum 6c (poison hemlock) one pellet taken once daily for 30 days can be especially helpful when a cataract is due to injury.
Either Silicea 30c or Phosphorus 30c work well in advanced cases.
Dosage: give one tablet twice daily for three days, and then decrease the dose to one tablet given twice a week or every 3rd day.