The English Springer Spaniel and Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Recognition and Treatment

Dog owner question

"Hi! My English Springer Spaniel, named Roxy, has recently started acting strangely. She has been bumping into things several times and seems to have trouble seeing her toys. I read that English Springer Spaniels are prone to Progressive Retinal Atrophy. What symptoms should I watch for and what can I do if Roxy has this condition?"

Veterinarian's reply

"Hi! The symptoms you describe are indeed a concern and it is very important that you have already raised the possibility of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is a genetic disease that slowly and gradually degrades a dog's retina and can lead to blindness.

Symptoms of PRA include poor eyesight, especially in low light, "reflective" eyes that are often seen in the dark, and the unsteadiness and bumping into objects that you noticed in Roxy.

If you suspect PRA, the most important thing is to take Roxy for an eye examination as soon as possible!

English Springer Spaniel 4

The vet will need to use special equipment to examine your puppy's eyes to determine if there is any degeneration in her retina.

If Roxy is diagnosed with PRA, it is important to know that there is currently no cure for this disease. However, for early stage PRA, there are certain nutritional supplements and dietary changes that can help slow the progression of the disease.

Treatment of PRA is mainly aimed at relieving symptoms and improving the dog's quality of life.

Dogs often adapt well to reduced vision and it can help if the furniture in the home is not changed. However, you may need to provide Roxy with a variety of aids, such as a special collar to stop him bumping into walls and furniture.

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It is very important that you report any changes in your dog's vision or behaviour to your vet immediately!

Although PRA is currently incurable, early detection and lifestyle changes can significantly improve your dog's quality of life and help him to continue to live a happy and active life."