What Is SARDS, and How Does It Occur?

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome—also known as SARDS—is a disease that has become relatively common in middle-aged dogs. A leading cause of sight loss and blindness in older pets, the damage caused by the affliction is irreversible. As it stands, there is no known cure, which means that animals affected by the disease will live out their remaining days with it.

What is SARDS and What Do We Know About It?

What do we know about SARDS? Not Much…While all dogs are susceptible, several breeds appear more prone to SARDS than others. Some of the breeds include Dachshunds, Pugs, Brittany Spaniels, and Miniature Schnauzers.

The disease occurs when the optic nerves that deliver data from the brain to the retinas are damaged. Often, dogs with SARDS will experience degeneration of the rods and the cones in their eyes, leading to permanent blindness. It’s a sad and unfortunate case of being unable to fully help or understand one’s best friend.

SARDS and Cushing’s Disease

SARDS is tricky in that it can often mimic what’s known as Cushing’s Disease, which occurs when the dog’s body emits too many natural steroids. Some of the side effects of both SARDS and Cushing’s Disease tend to be the same. The dog will often experience hair loss, bloating, and excessive hunger or thirst.

However, Cushing’s Disease will often not affect the eyes in the same way SARDS does. In addition, there is a medication that a veterinarian can prescribe to a dog with Cushing’s disease. With SARDS—given how little is known about it—is not treatable by any modern science or medicine.


Signs of Sight Loss in Dogs

SARDS is also far more dangerous than other degenerative eye diseases in that it can happen swiftly and without warning. Unlike cataracts—which are often caused by diabetes and form over a prolonged window of time—SARDS can take effect quickly. This will cause your baby to lose his or her sight in a matter of weeks or even days in some instances.

If you haven’t already, make sure to visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. Along with the side effects listed above, your dog may exhibit strange behavior. Behavior such as:

  • A reluctance to move or walk,
  • bumping into objects,
  • or not being able to locate toys or treats—even when they’re nearby.

These are some of the signs of sight loss in dogs. While SARDS itself isn’t treatable, other blindness-inducing health problems like hypertension are. It’s important to get an expert opinion to know if something can be done.

What Steps Should I Take if the Blindness is Permanent?

If a doctor determines that your dog has SARDS, the loss of vision will be irreversible, and it’s important to make your pet as comfortable as soon as possible with the right tools and a lot of love. One big move you can make in keeping your dog safe in his new world of darkness is to equip him with a halo. Extending beyond the animal’s head, a halo will ensure your dog remains out of harm’s way by keeping his face and body clear of any nearby objects or barricades as he wanders about.

SARDS, unfortunately, has a lasting effect on your pet, but so does the love you carry in your heart. As long as you’re around to make sure he’s safe, secure, and cared for, your four-legged friend can still lead a long and productive existence.

Muffin’s Halo is here to help you and your dog adjust to any difficult time you may be experiencing. Call us at (818) 943-9673 or email us at muffinshalo@gmail.com to learn more about our life-saving products.