Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Have you seen the Lumpapottomus?

I have, he's a 140lb mahogany and tan Rotweiller. He's my pride and joy and his name is Enzo. We sometimes call him the 6 million dollar dog because he has been in and out of the vet for this thing or that. Enzo is everything a Rottweiler should be and then some. We affectionately refer to him as Lumpy or The Lumpopottomus.
This is the ferocious Rottie that let an apartment maintenance man in my apartment, change out a door lock and then leave. Enzo was sleeping in the middle of my bed and didn't even care to move an inch. That's how he earned his name Lumpy.

Over the years I've noticed that Enzo has not been able to see to well at night or in the dark and I noticed that his eyes would get this weird green glow. We never thought that much about it as he still seemed quite normal and I just attributed it to getting older. I thought that Enzo was getting cataracts so I brought him to our local vet. He ran some tests and stated that he was not able to see into the dogs eyes and suggested an eye specialist.
We showed up to the eye specialist who diagnosed Enzo in seconds and informed us that he has PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy). He told us that Enzo has had this for quite some time and was pretty sure that he was just about blind.

He told us that Enzo had us fooled for quite some time as his other senses took over. He looked and acted quite normal to us, other than the eerie glow. Well that was almost a year ago and he's doing fine. I try not to move things too much and he seems to be as happy as can be. The only hard time that we have is when he wakes up from dead sleep.
He doesn't know where he's at and he will just stand there.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night just to find him staring into the corner.
He hasn't a clue and I'm sure he must feel a little strange. When walking him to bed after waking him up in the living room he will fight me and want to walk the opposite direction I'm going. It's hard to steer 140lbs of blind dog when they are dead set on going in one direction. Honestly though, that's the worst of it.

My wife takes this worse than I do as Enzo along with our Golden Retriever and two cats are her kids. She gets a little miffed with me as I do not share the "kid" view but she does know that I care deeply about all my pets, Enzo in particular.
Anyhow I am attaching an article on this genetic defect and if you find that your pet has any of the symptoms, get them checked out.
See the article from http://www.animaleyecare.net/diseases/pra.htm

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
This is a genetic, inherited disease of the retina (the "film" in the camera), which occurs in both eyes simultaneously. The disease is nonpainful, and there is no cure for it. The eyes are genetically programmed to go blind. PRA occurs in most breeds of dogs and can occur in mixed breeds also. It is recessively inherited in all breeds studied, with the following exceptions: PRA is dominantly inherited in Old English Mastiffs and Bullmastiffs, and PRA is sex-linked and found primarily in male dogs in the Siberian Husky and Samoyed breeds. Clinical signs vary from the dog first becoming night blind in the early stage of PRA (not able to see in low light surroundings) to the entire visual field in all light levels becoming affected, which is advanced PRA.

The pupils are usually dilated, and owners often notice a "glow" and increased "eye shine" from the eyes. All dogs with PRA will eventually develop blindness from advanced PRA, and this time frame until the dog is blind varies considerably from dog to dog, but usually takes at least 6 months from the time of diagnosis, and can rarely take years until the dog is completely blind. Although no treatment for PRA is possible to stop the disease, nutritional antioxidant supplementation for retinal health may help slow the deterioration of the retina to "buy some time" before the blindness inevitably happens.

Animal Eye Care believes that in many of these PRA patients, specific oral antioxidant nutritional therapy can delay the progression of blindness. Blindness is not avoided, however, in any PRA patients. If oral antioxidants were used, they would be continued until complete vision loss occurred. What to do if you suspect PRA: Have your dog examined by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist to determine if this disease is indeed present. If you are located in the Pacific Northwest or in British Colombia, you may contact our office to schedule a comprehensive ophthalmic examination.
Dogs with PRA should not be bred, and the breeder that you received your dog from should be notified that the dog is affected, so the breeder can alter their breeding program in future. It is important to understand that dogs with PRA are happy dogs. Their eyes don't hurt, and they adjust very well to their slow loss of vision.

In fact, if a dog were destined to become blind and Dr. McCalla could pick the disease, it would be PRA, as the vision loss is slow and nonpainful, and the dog is given much time to adjust to its vision loss. It is important to realize that it is OK to grieve about your pet's vision loss, but you must not put your sad feelings in your dog's head--they aren't really there! Your dog is not suffering. They adjust well to their vision loss, and it is by far hardest to deal with on the owner's side. Your dog's job description has not changed.

Your blind dog is happy as long as its routine is stable. From your dog's point of view, life continues to be great-- you are there as always, and they just need to use their other keen senses a bit more to get the same information they used to view. Keep household furniture in its place, and consider purchasing the book "Living With Blind Dogs" by Caroline Levin. Animal Eye Care also sells this book. It is the only book of this subject matter, and is beneficial in helping owners and their affected pets adjust to the vision loss.
Animal Eye Care also sells pet medical alert tags. One tag reads "I Have Poor Vision" while the other reads "I Am Blind". Please contact our office if you want to purchase a tag for your pet.

Dogs with PRA can develop cataracts late in the disease process. Cataract surgery would never be done, as it would not help the dog to see. However, cataracts can cause pain and damage to the eye, and if the eyes look very cloudy to you, please call Animal Eye Care for a reexamination as soon as possible. There are DNA blood tests available, to determine if dogs are likely affected with PRA, are likely carriers for PRA, or are not likely carrying the PRA gene. Please visit the web site for further information (http://www.optigen.com/).

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