SARDS

What is SARDS?

SARDS stands for sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome. It is an ocular disease in dogs that is characterized by a sudden onset of blindness. The vision loss occurs over a period of a few hours to days.

Which dogs tend to be affected by SARDS?

The highest incidence of SARDS is reported in middle- to older- aged, moderately overweight, small breed, female dogs. However, cases have been described in large breed male dogs.

How is SARDS diagnosed?  

The diagnosis of SARDS is based on 1.) a history of sudden blindness, 2.) a normal appearing fundus in the early stages of the disease, and 3.) absence of electrical activity on an electroretinogram. Advanced stages of SARDS show retinal atrophy, which may be difficult to distinguish from progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which is an inherited retinal disease in dogs.

What causes SARDS?

Unfortunately the cause of SARDS is not known.

What are the treatment options?

There is no effective treatment of the disease yet. Experimental therapy is conducted at Iowa State University.

Why is my dog eating more food, drinking more water and urinating more frequently?

These are common clinical signs of SARDS. Laboratory findings often show enzyme abnormalities related to liver pathology that initially resembles Cushing's syndrome. Most patients do not have true Cushing's syndrome. The Cushing's-like signs commonly resolve after a few months.

Is SARDS contagious to other dogs?

No, SARDS is not a contagious disease.

Can SARDS be passed on to my dog's puppies?

No, there is no evidence that SARDS is an inherited disease.

Will my dog's vision return?

Unfortunately, no.

Is SARDS painful for my dog?

SARDS is not painful. However, the acute loss of vision may require some adjustments in your dog's life. Following an adjustment period your dog will begin compensating with his or her other senses (smelling and hearing). Fortunately, an excellent sense of smell and hearing will allow your dog to continue to live a happy, fulfilling life.