Great question. I believe this must be addressed by dog owners and their local, home town veterinarians. Why your local vet? Because, to date, veterinary ophthalmologists maintain that they do not know the cause of SARD. Consequently, they have not identified any preventative measures.
Part 1: If you’ve been reading these pages, you are familiar with the unmistakable relationship between adrenal exhaustion (i.e.. elevated estrogen) and the onset of sudden blindness. 98% of SARD dogs tested demonstrate elevated estrogen. If the adrenal exhaustion could be promptly identified and treated, it might preempt the damage to the retina.
So, perhaps the most effective mode of prevention would be to educate general practice veterinarians and this might have to come from you, the dog owner. General practice vets should be educated:
- to recognize the signs of adrenal exhaustion and the breeds (Dachshunds, small terriers) most at risk
- how to test for adrenal exhaustion
- and how to treat it
Many dog owners make an appointment with their general practice veterinarian prior to the onset of blindness. The owners bring in the dog with signs of increased hunger and thirst, perhaps accidents in the house, and/or any of the other common signs such as, lethargy, depression, aggression, pacing, panting, etc. The general practice veterinarian may run a blood test to rule out Cushing’s disease (i.e.. a tumor growing on one of the glands that produces excess cortisol).
It seems logical to run a Cushing’s test, since the symptoms mentioned above can be signs of a tumor/excess cortisol. However, these are also signs of adrenal exhaustion (excess estrogen). How can this be? How can both excess estrogen and excess cortisol produce the same symptoms?
Both estrogen and cortisol are steroid hormones. And as two molecules go, they are very, very similar, so they both have similar effects on the body. They both cause: drinking, peeing, hunger, depression, infections, etc. So, if the Cushing’s test is negative, the veterinarian, should suspect adrenal exhaustion. And really, to prevent vision loss, the veterinarian should test for adrenal exhaustion along with, or instead of, Cushings, so that no time is wasted.
If the testing can be done and the treatment initiated immediately, how many dogs might retain their vision? How many dog owners could be spared their grief and pain!
Part 2: For your part, consider raising any future dogs in a more old-fashioned way… treating the dog as we did decades ago, before SARD first made it’s appearance. SARD was only first diagnosed in the late 1970’s-early 1980’s. Rather than type out this information a second time, I am giving you a link to another website of mine. Here, you will find information about homemade meals, why to minimize chemical exposures, and some thoughts about vaccines. We also have a DVD that covers these topics in detail.
Once someone has witnessed adrenal exhaustion in a dog, they become more aware of it. They start to notice the signs/symptoms in a friend’s dog, a neighbor’s dog, even a second dog of their own. It is with this recognition, that SARDS can be prevented. Following is an entry from on of my readers.