What causes a 6-year-old dog to go blind in less than a week? Is there anything we can do to fix it? The vet says she has SARDS. — J. Vozzo, Henderson, NV
While several conditions can cause your dog to go blind quickly. If your veterinarian says your dog has Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS), then that is the culprit of your dog’s disability. This condition can affect any breed/mixed breed of dog and is the result of the destruction of the rods and cones in the retina, which results in sudden blindness. Many dog owners report seeing an increase in appetite and water consumption a week or two before the blindness. There is no treatment and no way to reverse blindness caused by SARDS.
Please know your dog is not in any pain and does not need to be euthanized. Animals can adapt to blindness, especially when their owners do a few key things. Here are a few tips.
First, don’t move the furniture around or leave baskets of laundry or shoes in odd places. Push in the chairs to the dining room table after your meals. The more the space stays the same, the quicker she will adjust.
Second, use sound and scent to help her know where she is going. Put a bell or something scented, like a car freshener, on the door she uses to go out and relieve herself. The scent will help her find her way to the door (always use the same scent) and the bells will let her know the door is open and she can go out.
Next, keep water and food dishes in the same place, so she can easily find them. In fact, if she gets disoriented, take her to the door where she relieves herself or her food dishes, so she can get her bearings again.
Finally, block her access to the stairs using baby gates and to in-ground pools using covers or fencing. Provide some short stairs to the bed or couch, if she is allowed on them. Learning stairs will be her hardest task, so be patient. You can use treats on each step to coax her along.
Hope this helps.
I have three 1-year-old cats, all littermates. One of the girls, Mona, throws up from time to time; sometimes it’s just liquid. We haven’t discovered the cause, but it’s better since we switched to a limited ingredient diet. Sometimes I think it’s “scarf and barf” because it looks like undigested food. Other times, when it’s just liquid, we’re not sure. She’s still active and still eats and drinks. At the last visit to the vet, they gave her fluids and said she had a slight fever. They said it could be inflamed bowels and if it continues, they may have to do an abdominal ultrasound.
Her brother, Farley, eats, drinks, plays and is otherwise healthy. However, he frequently has softer bowels and diarrhea. All cats are fed dry and wet food. I know they say that wet food can cause softer stool, but can it cause diarrhea? Any help would be greatly appreciated. We’re deep in vet bills at this point. — Gina, Pittsburgh, PA
Some pets are more sensitive to food than others and so any diet can cause gastric distress, depending on the pet’s sensitivity to the food. A limited ingredient diet can be helpful.
It can be distressing to have exorbitant vet bills with no answers and not knowing what to do next. I have always had what I refer to as a “bottom-up” vet rather than a “top-down” vet. What that means is my vet is willing to try the least expensive thing first, rather than put my pet and my pocketbook through a host of tests that may reveal nothing. If the cheaper solution doesn’t work, then we move on to the big tests for answers.
So, ask your vet this question: “If we do the ultrasound and discover that my cat has inflamed bowels, what is the treatment?”
Often times, treatment is a diet change or a medication to reduce inflammation. If that is the case, then ask your vet if you can try those treatment recommendations first, before the big tests. I think that is a very reasonable request, as it won’t take long to see if the treatment works and it gives you time to think about how to pay for the ultrasound, if it is still needed.
Keep me posted.