If your reading this then you just came from the vet and were told that your dog has progressive retinal atrophy. You may feel scared, confused and completely at a loss about what this condition is and what causes it. Well, don’t worry, you are not the only dog owner to come across this condition so lucky for you there is lots of available materials on the internet that you can research. That is why this article was written to help collie owners understand what it is and how it will effect their pooch. In order to understand how this condition will effect your pooch, you must first understand what it is.
Progressive retinal atrophy is an genetic disease in which Fido’s DNA has hard wired him to go blind. The fact that he will go blind is wired into his DNA like the color of his coat. Its is passed down by his parents as a recessive gene. It is not limited to any one specific type of dog (although Husky and mastiff breeds have a higher frequency of PRA) but is found in just about every breed of dog, even in mixed breeds.
Usually the first sign that most owners notice is a habitual dilation of the eyes. It is often accompanied with excessive shine or glow in the dogs eyes. Unfortunately by the time that the condition is noticed by the owner the dog is usually already significantly night blind. This means that the dog cannot see well (if at all) at night or in low light areas. The disease will progress with a resonalbe speed and can result in complete blindness within a year or two after the first signs of the disease. Cataracts are often present with this disease and are usually a sign that your dog is entering advanced stages. Cataract surgery maybe possible must be discussed with a veterinary ophthalmologist. The disease is not painful and it is quite possible for the dog to enjoy a decent quality of life even with this disease. While its true that this disease is not curable, if caught in enough time the dog can be given antioxidant nutritional supplements that suport retinal and lens health that may help the slow the progression and the effects of the disease. Its important though that your dog receive these supplements before the disease is too far advanced.
Dogs with this disease should not be bred as it will almost always pass along to the off spring. If your dog has this disease and she already has had a litter of puppies then you will need to let the prospective owners know that there is a chance the puppy will have this disease. Blood tests may be able to identify the presence of this disease before the your dog is too heavily effected.
If you even suspect that your dog may have this disease (whether it has started to effect your dog or not) then there are a few things that you should do.
1. Schedule an appointment with a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist. He or she will be able to clinically diagnose whether or not your pet truly has this disease. Once your pet has been diagnosed the veterinary ophthalmologist will be able to tell you for sure what the best treatment plan may be.
2. Contact your breeder. If in the chance that your dog was purchased from a breeder and you have his or her information then you should contact the breeder (proof of purchase will probably be required so be ready for that) to let them know that this disease is present in their puppies so that they can take appropriate action as well.
3. Grieve for the loss of Fido’s eye sight. It is perfectly naturally to feel badly that your pet is having these issues with his or her eye sight. It is important to remember thought that it is not his or fault and that the disease is not painful. The pet usually is able to adjust with the loss of sight as it happens over time. However you will have to learn to watch your pet as he or she will have difficulty seeing. Again keep in mins that this disease is not painful. Your dog will be quite able to enjoy a good quality of life if he is properly taken care of.
Finally, PRA is a disease that is very prevalent dogs around the world. Its important to realize that it does not change the character of your pet and it can be slowed with the use of antioxidant supplements that support retinal and lens health. Remember that its very important for your pet to see a veterinary ophthalmologist for a conclusive diagnosis and treatment plan. The sooner this disease is detected the sooner it can be addressed and the sooner its progrssion can be slowed an its effects controlled. This gives your pet a better outlook on quality of life with this disease.