Imposters: Afflictions That Look Like SARDS at First Glance

SARDS is a terrifying disease that pet doctors have few answers for. SARDS typically leads to permanent blindness in dogs, along with other symptoms such as bloating, excessive thirst and increased appetite. Animals may also exhibit a lack of energy of show signs of hair loss. For the most part, SARDS has been labeled incurable, but there are other illnesses out there known to mimic the disease, some of which can be brought under control with the right treatments and medication.

Diseases That Mimic SARDS

If your dog begins to exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, the first thing you’ll want to do is take him to the nearest medical facility. It’s easy to assume the worst when our pets don’t act like themselves, but a proper diagnosis could help in figuring out if what your dog is suffering from is reversible, as there are many diseases out there that behave similarly to SARDS.

One of these—which we discussed briefly in another article—is Cushing’s Disease. Many dogs suffering from Cushing’s tend to exhibit the same symptoms as those with SARDS. They gain weight rapidly, they appear bloated or larger than normal, and they tend to act slow or sluggish. The good news is that while Cushing’s Disease cannot be fully stopped, there are medications out there—such as Vetoryl—that can keep the disease under control and assist your dog in returning to his original state.

Other ailments are harder to maintain, such as progressive retinal atrophy or PRA. This disease mimics SARDS in that it can lead to blurred vision or total blindness. PRA affects the rods and cones of a dog’s eyes, which allow the animal to see both movement and color. PRA will often cause these portions of the eyes to wear away completely, leading to complete blindness.

One of the big problems with PRA is that it is hereditary. In other words, if a dog’s parent suffered from the disease, he’s likely to inherit the same faulty cells. Signs of PRA typically include an inability to see in low light, getting lost, or an inability to locate toys—even when they are nearby or within the dog’s range of sight.

While any dog can suffer from PRA, some breeds are more prone than others. These include the Akita, the Alaskan Malamute, the Belgian Shepherd, Collies, Labrador Retrievers and Mastiffs. Other dogs that may be susceptible to PRA are the Dachshund, the Irish Setter, the American Cocker Spaniel, and the Tibetan Terrier.

PRA is potentially curable through gene therapy, but such treatment does not come cheap, nor is it widely available, and its lack of mainstream use could prevent your dog from getting the medical help he needs to retain his vision.

You Can Still Make Your Dog Comfortable

But while this and other forms of therapy may be out of the question, there are steps you can take to ensure your dog’s life remains happy, safe, and productive despite his loss of vision. A halo, for example, is designed to assist dogs with failing sight. The halo takes on the form of a ring that extends beyond the dog’s head to stop any potential collisions with nearby objects, thereby keeping your baby safe and sound as he explores his environment.

SARDS and other diseases that lead to blindness may exist, but your love, empathy and patience can help your little pup fight back and continue life as if nothing were wrong.

Muffin’s Halo is here to ensure your dog adjusts to his new ailment with ease. Our patented products can make the life of any dog a fun and happy one. Call us at (818) 943-9673 or email us at to find out more.