January 25, 2008
This is a very exciting time for SARD dogs. Findings at Iowa State University (Grozdanic, et al.) have taught us two very important things. First, there does appear to be a window of opportunity in SARD cases. And during that window, dogs can be treated with immunoglobulin injections or by addressing the underlying adrenal exhaustion — which restores normal immunoglobulin levels. (Levin 2007). Advising owners that “there is no treatment for these dogs” is becoming an outdated sentiment.
Second, research at Iowa State has also demonstrated that the presence of a flatline ERG does not necessarily mean the retina is destroyed, especially early-on in SARD or following treatment. Previously, the ERG was often the “final word” in identifying a visual dog. Now we see that–like many medical tests–it has limitations.
Finally, reports of adrenal exhaustion in SARD are becoming better publicized. Even some dogs treated at Iowa State University have received a modified version of the hormone replacement therapy described here. But untreated, some of these cases come to an exceedingly tragic end—an end that might have been averted with prompt treatment. Assuring all SARD-dog owners that their dogs “will adapt just fine” is an outdated statement that diverts owners from seeking treatment for the underlying adrenal condition.
Some may find my comments brusque or even offensive. It is never my intent to offend. My goal is merely to help these owners find help for their pets. Some of their stories are heartbreaking and I identify with them. I strongly believe in the adrenal model of SARD and have advocated this concept for several years. It’s possible that my tone has become more urgent over time. This calling is rewarding but it is also a frustrating one.