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Jim Williams



SARDS - Living with a Blind Dog

A few months ago I was extremely sad to find out that my beloved doggy Zoë suddenly went blind from an incurable and unfortunately under-researched disease called SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome). Being a qualified dog behaviourist, dog rescuer and founder of HK Rescue Puppies (I have fostered/ rescued/ homed well over 200 puppies & dogs in HK in the past 7 years), I was amazed that I had never heard of this disease before (the Optimologist from Peace Avenue, Dr. Derek Chow told me that he diagnoses 1 to 2 dogs a month with the disease in HK and I researched on the internet that over 4,000 dogs a year contract the disease in the USA alone). It is apparently more prevalent in female, spayed dogs over 6 years old and can be associated with Cushings disease (although not in Zoë’s case). Another theory is that it is caused by over exertion of the Adrenal gland, resulting in a deficiency of the natural steroid, Cortisol, which somehow affects the retina and stops it from functioning permanently.

Zoë exhibited all of the symptoms of SARDS over the 2 months preceding her diagnosis: increased water consumption and urination, increased appetite, weight gain, bed wetting, confusion, restlessness, heavy breathing/ snoring, behavioural changes (she cried when I was not with her & stood still, staring into space for extended periods) and lethargy; none of which I would have ever associated with blindness. As Zoë is still fairly young (she turned 6 on 26 April 2013) and had never had any eye injury or eye infection, it never even occurred to me that she was going blind. Looking back, I think she had short periods of loss or partial loss of vision for about 2 months and it slowly got worse.

I took Zoë to the vet on 4 February 2013 because she was exhibiting the above symptoms and throwing up as well. As my beloved Zara (RIP) had shown some of the same symptoms prior to her dying of liver cancer in 2012, I thought Zoë might have a kidney or liver problem. Her urine was tested and she was given a full blood test. Everything was normal apart from she had low potassium levels (which the vet said would indicate that she was sick from something she ate or drank – a dead barking dear was found the next day in the river that she drinks from, so I assumed she got sick from that). She was put on antibiotics and Potassium tablets & I brought her home.

I waited until the course of antibiotics was finished, but she still wasn’t back to normal. She stopped throwing up and seemed slightly more lively at times but was still exhibiting most of the above SARDS symptoms. On walks in the woods she was taking longer to come back to me than usual and was extremely lethargic on the way home. On 14 February 2013 I brought her to the vet again and he said that he couldn’t find anything medically wrong with her but suggested that I put her on anti-inflammatories for a few days to see if that helped (in case it was something that hadn’t show up on the blood and urine tests). He also suggested that it might be behavioural (this was feasible, as my parents, helper and 2 foster pups had just left, so I thought she might have been upset that our pack had suddenly decreased in size).

She seemed slightly better for about a week or so but then the bed-wetting increased and at times she looked really dazed, confused and dizzy. She also started drooling heavily and staring into space a lot more. Then one evening I got out her favourite treats and held one in front of her. She could smell it but didn’t appear to be able to see it. A few seconds later she looked like she could see again and took the treat. She may have gone in and out of blindness or I may have been reading her eyes and head following my movements, as her being able to see me (when in fact she was probably using her sound and smell sensors to follow my movements). Even in the weeks following her diagnosis, it looked like there were moments that she could see, but then she would stumble or walk into something. For a while it looked like she may have been be able to see shadows during bright periods of daylight, but Dr. Derek said that (if that was the case) then it would soon go, (as would the other symptoms in a few months.

On Monday 4 March 2013 Zoë walked into a drain wall when we were outdoors and then into one of my dining chairs when I got home. I was shocked and upset and immediately called the vet and said I thought she had gone blind; he referred me to Dr. Derek and I drove her to Peace Avenue Animal Hospital in Mong Kok. Dr. Derek was very nice and did a full retinal examination and diagnosed SARDS. He said it was a very sudden and permanent condition with no known cause or approved cure. He was very sorry that he couldn’t offer me a cure but he kindly gave me some advice on how to adapt my lifestyle to living with a blind dog. He said there was nothing I could have done earlier to stop it progressing and nothing I could do to make the eyesight come back. Needless to say I was devastated and there were a lot of tears in the following few weeks. I subsequently did a lot of reading up on the internet and found it very sad that more is not known about this dreadful disease and that nothing could be done to save her sight. I have taken things one day at a time and have adapted my life accordingly to give Zoë the best life possible. Some people asked if I would put her down and I asked them if they would put their children down if they went blind! Such a thing is inconceivable to me. Her life will not be as adventurous as it once was, but she can still lead a great life and has actually adapted to her situation better than me!

Some of the following tips about “Living with a Blind Dog” were given to me by the Optimologist, some I got from asking around, some from the internet and some from trial and error. I hope they will be useful to any other dogs owners who find themselves living with a blind dog:

·        Put an easy to grab type harness on your dog (like the one in the photo of Zoe) instead of a collar and use a wide, extendable lead (not the thin, wire type) to walk your dog. Lock the lead at a safe length when walking on/ near roads and unlock the lead in safe areas to let your dog sniff and move around. Hook the lead to the back of the harness (not the front) so that you can easily pull your dog back from any potential dangers. Never let your dog off lead outdoors in unsecured areas or in areas with potential dangers.

·        When you are walking your dog or moving around your home, talk calmly, gently and frequently to your dog to let them know where you are.

·        Use set words to tell your dog that there is an obstacle in their path and to guide them (like “Step”, “Stop”, “Jump” “Left”, “Right” etc.). When using “Left” or “Right” pull the lead gently in that direction to help guide them in the correct direction.

·        If you have other dogs or cats, then tie a small bell to each of their collars so that your blind dog can hear where they are too.

·        If you have furniture that could be bumped into that would cause something on top of it to fall down from a height (picture frames/ statues etc.), then move those objects to a safer location so that nothing can fall on your dog’s head if it bumps into something.

·        If you live in a house with stairs, then you need to be extra careful to keep your dog safe from falling down the stairs. Stick 2” wide non-slip floor tape to the entire front length of each step & place a non-slip carpet at the top, the bottom and the corner sections of each set of stairs. If necessary, place a child gate at the top and bottom of each set of stairs. Accompany your dog up and down the stairs whilst holding their harness (If they are a small dog, then you can add a short lead to the harness). Do not let your dog negotiate stairs on their own in your home until they have shown that they can navigate them safely every time. If you need to go out and leave your dog(s) alone then make sure you have a closed stair gate to keep them on one level. I have found that Zoë needs help going down the stairs first thing in the morning, but now she seems to be able to get up and down them fine (on her own) for the rest of the day. I have a spiral staircase to the roof and when she hears me open the roof door she can get up the stairs on her own (she likes sunbathing on the day bed on my roof) but needs help every time coming down them (she just stands and waits for me at the top of the stairs until I come to get her to help her down – she also never tries to go up the stairs unless she hears me open the roof door).

·        Do not move the furniture around in your home and do not leave any potential obstacles in areas that are normally free of obstruction (shopping, the vacuum cleaner etc.).

·        When feeding your dog, make a noise by tapping the dog bowl when you put it down, so that they can easily find it (I have found that Zoe’s sense of smell has gotten worse since she went blind; she can smell there is food in the room but has trouble finding it and gets stressed when she can’t. The tapping helps – hopefully her sense of smell will improve with time).

·        Stimulate your dogs mind with playtime and training. If your dog likes to play, buy toys with noises in them, I found a great ball with bells inside it (I think it was designed for cats) that I can roll around for Zoë to find. If you have a dog with a better sense of smell who likes a challenge, then you can also use Kong type toys filled with something yummy and place them somewhere that your dog can search for them and find them without bumping into anything. You can also teach them requests and tricks through sound and touch. Use pats and words of praise or small, strong smelling treats to further entice their senses of smell and taste. Until her sense of smell improves, I have found that I sometimes need to gently touch Zoe’s mouth with the treat (when she has trouble finding it).

·        It is very stressful for your dog when they first go blind. The action of chewing releases endorphins that calm stress, so it is best to provide your dog with an adequate amount of safe chew toys or flat, raw hide chew bones to help relieve the stress.

·        Your dog will probably not be able to get as much exercise, so you will need to reduce their food intake accordingly so that they do not become overweight. Do not try to overcompensate the blindness by giving them too many treats.

·        The vet recommended that I stick with the same walk every time, so that Zoe knows where she is, but she soon got bored with this, so I started to vary the walks and she was much happier having different smells to sniff. I am lucky that I have a number of great walking options from where I live, so I have about 6 different walks that I stick to. This gives her variety throughout the day and the confidence to know where she is in an area close to home.

·        All dogs (especially blind ones) need a calm and assertive pack leader, someone they can trust to make all the important survival decisions for them. Being a good pack leader is not about domination or control, it is about respect and understanding. You need to be able to communicate with your dogs in a way they understand.

·        We are all human, so there are times in our lives when we get upset. If you really need to cry or vent then try (where possible) to do so away from your dogs (out of sight and out of earshot), then take a deep breath and go pack to being the pack leader that they need. In the beginning I found it very difficult not to burst into tears when I saw Zoë struggling with something. I live opposite a 10 foot storm drain and a few days after her diagnosis, Zoë was meandering along on a walk beside my other dogs and I, when she suddenly and quickly made a 90 degree turn and ran straight into the drain. I was so shocked! Luckily it had some water and wet leaves in it to soften the fall and I pulled her straight up with the extendable lead and harness. I burst into tears at the thought of her possibly being hurt, but she just came out, had a shake and walked over to her favourite bush and started eating her daily veggies (she is like a goat). It was as if nothing had happened! I went from tears to laughter in an instant. Dogs are so resilient and adaptable; we can learn so much from them! 


Hazel Black - Chairman of HK Rescue Puppies & a qualified dog behaviourist.

Write a comment

Comments: 68
  • #1

    paul smith (Wednesday, 19 February 2014)

    What a wonderful piece Hazel, how is Zoe now?

  • #2

    Sue (Monday, 28 April 2014 22:15)

    Thank you! Your info has helped me!

  • #3

    Hazel - Hk Rescue Puppies (Tuesday, 29 April 2014 00:13)

    Zoe is fine now Paul - thanks for asking. Dogs are very adaptable. I moved to a ground floor apartment with a big terrace to make life easier for her. She gets stressed when the thunder monster is coming (it never used to bother her when she could see and my big dog Zara was with us) but she is pretty chilled the rest of the time. Rainy weather makes her incontinence worse but I just take her out more often on those days.

  • #4

    Hazel - Hk Rescue Puppies (Tuesday, 29 April 2014 00:14)

    Sue - I am glad you found the info helpful. If you can think of any other helpful tips that help you with your dog, then please feel free to post them here.

  • #5

    Carol (Thursday, 01 May 2014 03:00)

    Thankyou for your very emotional, wonderfully informative and helpful info ...we have our own story a beautiful Jack Russell called 'Milo' with what looks like is the same condition . You have helped immensely and we look forward to a happy but slightly different life with our very loved little friend.

  • #6

    Hazel - Hk Rescue Puppies (Thursday, 01 May 2014 03:23)

    Sorry to hear about Milo Carol. It is hard in the beginning adapting your life but it soon becomes second nature. Always remember to watch out for potential obstacles on walks - there will be times when he walks into something because you forgot to be his eyes for a moment. Don't let it upset you, just try to remember next time. It is 14 months now since Zoe went blind. She started wetting the bed more, so I took her for more tests. Her potassium levels were low again, so it can't have been the drinking the water from the stream with the dead deer, that caused that. I have had my vet send the results to Dr Derek and am waiting for him to call me back to tell me what he thinks. Are Milo's potassium levels normal? Are you living in Hong Kong?

  • #7

    Carol (Friday, 02 May 2014 02:56)

    Hello Hazel thankyou for your reply. We actually live in Adelaide Australia. Our issues have been on going for about 6 months regarding Milos health degeneration. Initially he had a severe bout of sickness and diarrhoea after what we think was due to something he ate out on a walk. The vet thought he had a bacterial infection and treated with antibiotics. Milo did not improve so we went back put on a different medication. Still concerned he had an x ray to determine there was nothing nasty going on. This showed nothing so we assumed his health would slowly pick up. The sickness improved but we noticed that Milo had become what appeared like depressed and no longer seemed to like doing the things he once enjoyed i.e. walks. Also he became supper obsessed with food which was the total opposite to the dog he had been up to then. He was lethargic and slept a lot. He also started to twitch which rang alarm bells in our heads so we went back to our vet. She had him tested for Cushing's disease which apparently came back normal except that she said his cholesterol was a little high but nothing to worry about. Then she told us that she thought he had a sore lower back which was probably why he was miserable and put him on a course of anti inflammatories for 3 months. We tried these but saw no improvement in his well being so went to a different vet for a second opinion. They told us to take him off of the anti infammatories that it was not his back and they put him on steroids. A few days into this medication he started to wet the bed and could not hold his urine so we took him off of these and decided that if he was not in any pain that we could see we would just let him live out whatever life he had not stuffed with drugs. Then just about a week ago I noticed that Milo was unable to see properly and started walking into furniture ... it almost happened overnight and we know for sure now that he is pretty much unable to see anything. We have not been back to the vet I do not feel happy speaking to any of the vets we have been to up till now, we really don't know who to approach with this problem. We feel a little let down. I am not sure about the potassium levels we have had so many tests done .. perhaps we need to investigate that further . We are all grieving at the moment for Milo and the dog he was but are determined to make whatever life he has as happy and positive as we can. Thankyou for listening to our story it is good to know there is support out there. Carol and Rob.

  • #8

    DAR (Tuesday, 17 June 2014 16:26)

    Thank you for your story, I just found out on 6/5/14 that my little lily which is a dauschaund has SARDS, as I have never heard of this before. She is completely blind now, and she is having some drooling now. Everyone says to me are you going to put her down and I feel like you, would you put your child now if he/she were blind. I love her so much she is my best friend, it is hard and I think I am having more of a hard time that she is. With all the stories that I have been reading, these dogs for weeks have been on antibiotics or steroids and then in three weeks they are going blind, do you feel that it could be related to these drugs that there system cannot handle and affects their vision, well this was the case with my little lily, off and on steroids and antibiotics since december, and then she got another anal tear which ruptured they gave her shots of steroids and then antibiotics and then the blindness occurred, something maybe we should look in to. To many questions I have and no answers. Thank you for your story and you and Zoe take care.

  • #9

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Tuesday, 17 June 2014 22:58)

    Hi Carol/ Robb/ Dar,

    I am sorry that I have only just seen your post Carol, as it didn't flag up on my computer. I know it is stressful dealing with all this news in the first few months but don't worry, it will get better and you and your doggy will soon adapt. If you haven't been to a canine optimologist for a definite diagnosis of SARDS, then I would recommend that you do (just ask your vet for a recommendation or Google one in your area). They are not cheap, but at least you will know for sure what is wrong with your dog. With regard to your lack of faith in your usual vet, I too became completely disillusioned with my vet over this. He has offered me no help or follow up on Zoe's continued bed wetting (despite more expensive tests). She is on Propalyn syrup (which helps) but there are times when she is wetting her bed every hour and then times when she doesn't wet the bed for months. The optimologist, Dr Derek said that I should test her for Cushings disease again and seek advice from another vet.

    Dar- Zoe drools a lot when food is around (which is a symptom of SARDS), so don't worry about it; just be careful you don't slip in it! It seems like all of our dogs were on anti-inflammatories and anti-biotics just prior to them going completely blind but I don't think that is what caused it, because they were all showing the classic SARDS symptoms prior to being put on the medication. There is a university professor doing research on the disease in the US (Ohio university, I think), so you could try Googling that and send him a message. I understand that he is using human immuglobin (?) as a course of treatment on dogs that are showing the initial signs of the disease (but have not yet gone completely blind) but the treatment is only available for dogs living in the US and is very expensive, with only a few cases showing signs that the dogs eyesight has not gotten worse - it never goes back to how it was). If your dog is already completely blind then his/ her eyesight will not come back. Some SARDS dogs have gone blind within 3 days, whilst others have shown symptoms 2 months prior to going completely blind.

    To help with cleaning up the bed wetting I place dog incontinence sheets on Zoe's dog beds and on my sofa seats and cover them with tucked in towels or washable blankets; that way you just have the blanket or towel to throw in the washing machine and you can throw the soiled incontinence sheets away.

    I am not a vet but if you need any help with anything regarding adapting your life to living with a SARDS dog, then please feel free to message me back here (so that other people can read this, to help them) or e-mail me at (as I check that daily).

    Remember to stay positive and remember that you are now a "Seeing eye human" or "Guide human" for your doggy, so stay calm, confident and be more aware of potential dangers. If your dog is stressed, then stay calm, keep your heart rate low and keep them close enough to feel safe but do not fuss over them in this state (a natural human thing to do), as your will only make matters worse by reinforcing their fears (staying calm, confident and in control of yourself will let them know that you are a good pack leader who can keep them safe; which will reduce their stress). Other than that, keep loving your doggy and give them the best life possible. I cherish every moment of every day that I spend with my dogs. They are the most wonderful animals. If only humans could have the hearts of dogs, the world would be a better place.

  • #10

    Claudia (Tuesday, 01 July 2014 14:38)

    Hi Hazel,
    My 9 year old black lab mix Maxine just received a SARDS diagnosis about 3 weeks ago.
    Reading your story I as was amazed how similar Zoë's syptoms were. Months before going blind I went to the vet because Maxine seemed sluggish, tired and almost depressed. One of the first things the vet noticed was her weight gain...she had almost gained 7 pounds within 1 year even though we didn't change her diet.
    Blood work didn't show much, only a slightly inflamed pancreas. She prescribed some antibiotics and some kind of antiacid. We also did an ultrasound of her abdomen but it didn't show anything. Initially Maxine perked up, but I noticed excessive drooling and drinking. She also seemed to be starving and started counter surfing, tipping over our trash can, ripping open my son's backpack to get at food (things she never did before). I felt that our vet didn't really know what to do next. She started talking about putting Maxine on an anti inflammatory thinking that she migh have joint pain from her weight gain. And then one weekend just as I was getting ready to give the anti inflammatory a shot Maxine missed a step walking down our stairs and came down flying. Later that day I took her out for a walk and coming back into the house she missed the front door and kept walking into the wall right next to it. I called the vet the next morning and she had us come in right away. She noticed that Maxine could no longer see and started talking about SARDS as a possible diagnosis (mentioning that another other possibility was a brain tumor). She referred us to a larger animal hospital that has an ophthalmologist who did an ERG (electroretinography) and ultimately diagnosed Maxine with SARDS. Our initial reaction was relief, since having a blind dog seemed much better than having a dog with brain cancer. I did a lot of reading about SARDS and living with a blind dog and followed some suggestions I found (baby gates to prevent her going up and down stairs when we are gone, a new harness with a convenient handle to help guide her, sticking to routine routes for our walks). Maxine has good days and bad days: some days she gets excited to go out and walks the entire route, some days she does her business and then wants to turn around and go back in right away. It is hard to see her struggling since she is such an active dog who loves playing and running with other dogs at the dog park. She also enjoys hiking and camping. Once she gets used to being blind I will try to take her back to the dog park to see how she handles it.
    We also noticed that she has to urinate a lot more and she started to have accidents in the house. Hopefully this will get better over time. For now we try to take her out more frequently and we also contain her in non-carpeted areas when we are not home. Our next challenge is finding a dog sitter solution for our upcoming 1 week vacation. I don't want to send her to the kennel she used to go to and we are having a hard time finding a pet sitter to come to our house at least 3 times a day.

  • #11

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Tuesday, 01 July 2014 22:11)

    So sorry to hear about Maxine, Claudia. Zoe has been blind for 16 months now and the bed wetting has actually gotten worse. I have taken her back to the vets for more tests but they said she doesn't have a urine infection and her kidneys and liver seem to be functioning fine, so I just have to deal with it. Giving her Propalyn syrup 3 times per day really helps (you need to get that from your vet) and putting dog wee wee pads (incontinence sheets) on her dog beds and putting easily washable towels on top of them, makes cleaning up easier. She is worse on rainy days. Some days she is okay with only going out 4 times and other days I need to take her out 7 times a day. She doesn't like to go on my big terrace, so I have to take her out. I do not recommend putting her in kennels, as that will be very stressful for her. A good dog sitter staying in your home would be less unsettling for her. Try ""; my friend used them twice and they were great. With regard to the walking, she will get better once she adapts to being blind. Remember to stay positive and project good energy to your dog. If you are upset then be so, away from your dog; have a good cry, take a deep breath and then come back to her more focused and positive. The key to a happy dog is for both human and dog to have calm positive energy, good daily exercise/ nutrition, positive training methods and mutual respect. Feel free to message me back if you need any help with anything.

  • #12

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Thursday, 17 July 2014 10:18)

    I just watched a touching video on facebook of a blind dog with retinal atrophy rescuing a 14 year old girl from drowning I thought you might like to watch it too.

    As snake season is upon us in Hong Kong, a few months ago I started taking the dogs to the beach and a few calm rivers to try and avoid the snakes. Zoe is absolutely loving swimming and it is a great and safe way for her to get exercise. Most beaches here don't have surf, so it is easy for her to swim there. I start by walking into the water with her. I hold her harness and when we get to the point where she can no longer stand, I stand still, hold the harness and let her doggy paddle for a while. Once she relaxes into it, I face her towards the open sea, let go and watch her swim. She swims in these big circles. I talk to her when she is swimming away, so she knows where I am and she always swims back to me. Her ears stick right up above the water and her eyes are really wide (like she is trying to see). When she gets tired she goes back to the beach or river bank (usually to find a dead fish to roll in!) and then goes back out when she feels like another swim. The other thing she really loves is rolling in grass. My outdoor area is tiled but when we go somewhere with lots of grass, she immediately drops to the floor and starts rolling in it from side to side (like the lab in the photo on the beach) and she has this huge smile on her face; it is really funny to watch. :)

  • #13

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Saturday, 02 August 2014 05:31)

    My doggy Zoe suddenly had 2 half seizures in a row on 23 July 2014. I rushed her to the SPCA vets, where she had 3 more half seizures; 2 in front of the vet. Her eyes were flickering and her legs went wobbly and she was turning her body significantly in one circular direction as she was about to fall; I caught her each time and held her as each seizure stopped. The vet sent us their bigger, 24 hour hospital and Zoe had another half seizure just before we got in the car. Zoe stayed in hospital for 24 hours for observation and had extensive blood and urine tests. Her Potassium, Sodium & Chloride levels were still low but everything else was normal (including a urine sample that was taken directly from the bladder and sent off for further analysis). The tests meant that it was not a toxin that had caused the seizures (dogs eating chewing gum off the floor can cause this sort of reaction as it is poisonous to dogs). She did not have any more seizures in hospital but had 2 more just after I brought her home. The vet said to just keep observing her. At times she seems more jaded and lethargic than usual, but I have not seen her have another seizure since. The vet thinks it may be a brain tumour. He says I could pay over US$1,000 for an MRI to find out but didn't seem to think there was any point if I don't have much money (if it is a tumour, there is not a lot I can do, as they do not perform brain surgery on dogs here). Has anyone else with a SARDS dog experienced anything like this?

  • #14

    Wanda (Sunday, 03 August 2014 20:39)

    Thank you so much for sharing this; my dog was diagnosed with SARDS. I see more depression in her rather than aggression, but I'm determined to her her to a good place. It's heartbreaking.

  • #15

    Cookie (Friday, 29 August 2014 13:04)

    Thank you for your story. As I was reading it, I thought I was reading what has transpired unfortunately for us with our dog Cookie in the last couple of months. Cookie is a 8 year old maltese poodle and has SARDS. the sympoms you described all began while we were away on our honeymoon (likely a stressful time for cookie as we had dropped her to our parents house where they would watch her for the week) in end of May 2014. When we returned, She had increased appetite, weight gain, smelly stool, increased liver enzymes, increased cholestrol and for the first time had accident in the bed in the month of June and July. She walked funny, almost reluctantly. In hindsight, her not running, inability to jump on the couch, staring out in the middle of the kitchen, and to me her eyes looked different. they were fine to the drs. but to me something was different. Mid August, on our daily walks, she started tripping on the speed bumps in our condo complex. I panicked and brought her home and saw her bump straight into the door before I could open it. After much back and forth between SARDS and Immune Mediated Retinopathy, the Drs were really unable to give us any definitive diagnosis or treatment. Only thing for sure was that our baby cookie was unable to see. it was devastating. The only saving grace has been that Cookie, much like your dog, has adjusted wonderfully. She knows the house well and you wouldn't be able to tell she can't see. She is still the sweet loving dog we fall in love with more and more everyday. She is our light. I hope that there is more responsible research and approach to find cure and prevention by the vetinary community for this illness.

  • #16

    Mary (Sunday, 05 October 2014 12:30)

    Chanel my 9 year old maltipoo was just diagnosed. Still new for me I am sad beyond belief. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • #17

    Kelly (Saturday, 20 December 2014 13:43)

    I sympathize with all these stories! I am so sad for my once fun loving and active daschund. She was diagnosed in November the day before thanksgiving. She seems so depressed. I hope she gets her happiness back...working with her everyday in an upbeat and positive environment.

  • #18

    Mindy (Tuesday, 31 March 2015 16:08)

    Hi Hazel,
    Haven't heard anything since your last post about Zoe's seizures in Aug 2014. Is she okay? What was the outcome? I have a 4 year old Catahoula Leopard Dog mix that was a rescue from Georgia that was diagnosed last July at the age of three. She exhibits all the classic SARDS signs listed here and I always worry about the possibility of it turning into Cushings Disease, so to here that your Zoe started having seizures is alarming. I do hope things worked out, but would love an update if you're so inclined.
    Thank you,

  • #19

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Monday, 06 April 2015 08:25)

    Sadly my beloved Zoe passed away on 17 September 2014. The tears are flowing as I write. A few days prior we think she had a stroke. 3 vets said they thought she had a brain tumour too. She would just stop and stand still and not move until I touched her (like she was in a trance). She kept spinning in circles periodically, her head was permanently tilted to one side and she had trouble going to the toilet without me holding her up. She kept crying and would only be comforted if she was pushed right up against me. It was heartbreaking to watch, as she no longer had any real quality of life and seemed to be in pain and disorientated.

    It was a hard decision but I had my favourite vet come to my home to put her to sleep. I took her on her favourite walk beforehand and fed her her favourite food and held her in my arms on the sofa. After her heart stopped the vet and I both looked at each other and burst into tears. I refused to cry beforehand, as i didn't want to upset Zoe. My other dogs were there too and one of them rushed over to comfort me just as Zoe passed away. Afterwards, I carried her to my car and took her straight to the crematorium. She is now in her urn next to my beloved Zara, who died of liver cancer in 2012. They were both amazing dogs and I feel blessed to have had them in my life.

    I still have my two gorgeous and amazing boys to keep me company. I do not think Zoe's passing was SARDS related but I would be interested to hear if anyone else with a SARDS dog experienced anything similar.

  • #20

    Cath (Friday, 14 August 2015 18:27)

    Hazel, so sorry to hear about your lovely dog Zoe passing away. She was so lucky to have such a caring person look after her. So many dogs, who don't have SARDS have much worse life experiences and so she was fortunate to have you as her companion. Sounds from your website like you are doing a lot of good work for dogs in HK.
    I have a beautiful Cesky Terrier called Lily, who was diagnosed with SARDS on her 5th birthday July 22nd. She has been losing her sight since then dramatically. First she couldn't see trats close to but could see rabbits in our garden. Over the last few weeks she has been bumping into things. The car on the drive, doors not fully open, deck chairs on the lawn. I have done so much reading on SARDS since she was diagnosed. Mostly US websites. Many people tell positive stories about living with their blind dog after they have come to terms with the devastating news.
    However many also talk about 1-2 years after being diagnosed with SARDS their dogs health starts to go downhill . Some report seizures, shaking, confusion.
    I was so hoping that you would be able to report Zoe's health as still stable. Not many people continue to share their dogs progress and the only stories I can find tend to end sadly within 2 years of diagnosis.
    I am coming to terms with Lily's blinders, although I still feel devastated for her. However I fear the probable outlook more from what I have read. I feel very let down by the veterinarian profession who say there is no treatment and a dog can live a normal life. Whenever I have asked them how many dogs with SARDs they have diagnosed and then tracked their health, not one of them can tell me any. I think they report healthy life from a single investigation done on SARDs dogs back in 90's but only on a small sample of 15 for less than 2 years.
    I am loving Lily as much as possible. Cooking for her and walking her with my other dogs- all who have bells now so she knows where they are. I have been putting lavender oil on her bed, but she looks at me in disgust and moved into another bed

  • #21

    Cath (Saturday, 15 August 2015 02:19)

    If any one out there has a SARDs dog please let us know if your dogs Heath is holding up more than 2 years beyond diagnosis. From the stories I have read it not one has been positive after 18-24 months past diagnosis. The underlying cause seems to I have not found any where the underlying cause to go on to destroy more of the dog's soft tissues/organs and ends with an early decline of health and ultimately death . I hope to be proved wrong - if anyone out there has a different experience please let me know. The veterinary profession really need to do more research on the cause as unfortunately the prognosis appears not to be just blindness . So many beautiful and loved dogs need their help. So many devastated owners have sad SARDS stories to tell, the only positive reports are when owners can get a vet to follow Caroline Levin's advice or Dr Al Plencher. I live in UK and I can't get any vet to implement their protocol because it hasn't been verified by the veterinary profession. But because there are so few cases it is not something they are focused on. Best wishes to anyone living with SARDS. I know from experience how devastating it is.

  • #22

    Maureen (Saturday, 05 September 2015 23:41)

    My 12 year old toy poodle, has been diagnosed with SARDS. 2 months ago she was chasing squirrels on Cape Cod, now the eye specialist has told me the options, and the one I choose was steriods for 2 weeks, and optimal vision support vitamins. She said it has not worked very much, but research said it is capable of doing so and it could stop the degeneration, I am learning how to live with a blind dog now so I will be prepared. Anyone ?? I am learning

  • #23

    Joyce (Monday, 05 October 2015 13:30)

    In First week of August, my sweet, 11- year old pure-bred miniature schnauzer was dx'ed with SARDS while I was away visiting a friend. She went from a 100 mph, lively, vitally active would-be guard dog to a 20 mph who still enjoys life but is a different dog. We dealt with diarrhea, vomiting, but now she has horrible smelling drool....always has a soaked, smelly beard that is pretty awful. Any advice. And I'll let everyone here know how she does for as long as she has.

  • #24

    Gemma (Thursday, 29 October 2015 08:03)

    Hello Hazel,

    What a helpful and thoughtfully written article. Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience with your Zoe. I was in tears reading in the comment section that she passed away. It must have been a very hard time for you both and I am so sorry for your loss.

    I have just come across this blog today because I am learning about my dog who has recently acquired SARDS. I had to write to tell you that the only abnormality in his blood work was a low potassium level, just like Zoe. Everything else was fine. As well, he has had diarrhea that keeps coming back and the vet said it is probably due to the stress of suddenly being blind.

    Anyway, I was wondering if Zoe's diarrhea ever cleared up? If it's too painful to write about Zoe I understand totally. Take care and yes, I agree that dogs teach us so much about living and dying. Cicero, a notable Senator in Ancient Rome, wrote that if dogs lived as long as humans, the sorrow when losing them would be too much for a human to handle. Wise words from a man many moons ago! Dogs are such precious gifts and we can only love them like crazy and treat them like gold during their brief stay on this planet.

  • #25

    Gemma (Thursday, 29 October 2015 08:17)

    hi Joyce,

    I just read your comment and sorry to hear about your dog getting SARDS. I wish I had a similar experience re: drooling so I could give some advice but my dog has not had this symptom. The soft stools/ diarrhea has been ongoing since he went blind and the vet thinks it is just from stress but I am getting concerned. It sounds like your dog's diarrhea stopped?

    I have a tip that may help your dog on walks if you haven't tried it yet. I bring a small metal/ tin object and hit it with a spoon to lead my dog around outside. even though my poor wee dog is also hard of hearing, the clang on the tin is good enough for him to hear at about ten to twelve feet away. As he is food motivated (his name should be Piggy), as long as he gets his treat he is very happy and eager to walk towards me. Since I have discovered this my dog Pete is so much happier and more confident going out. Perhaps practice in an open area at a park so that you don't have to worry about obstacles being in the way. I honestly think the hearing improves after the blindness sets in.

    Anyway hope that helps you. It's heartbreaking when your dog no longer wants to go out on walks eh?

  • #26

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Wednesday, 04 November 2015 00:06)

    Hi everyone.

    I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful doggies getting SARDS. It is heartbreaking at first but you and your doggy can learn to live with the blindness and still live happy lives. Apologies for the delay in replying, I am currently recovering from eye surgery.

    Joyce - the drooling from my Zoe eased off after a few months, so hopefully that will be the case with your doggy. Don't make a fuss about it, just wipe it off with a cloth and put a towel under her when she is sleeping. Please remember to stay calm when around her, so that she feels safe and loved. If you need to vent or cry about anything, then do it well away from her and take a deep breath before going back to her. SARDs is stressful for both the dog and its owner.

    Gemma - Zoe's diarrhea cleared up after about 6 weeks. I used to give her bits of banana, which she loved, as they are full of potassium and good when you have a bad tummy (good for humans too).

    Cath - I would not recommend putting lavender oil or any other oil on your dogs bed, as she probably won't like it. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and can easily smell their own bed without you having to scent it. With regard to SARDs dog's life span after diagnosis, FYI Zoe started having seizures in April 2014. She had one day of them and then nothing until July. When they first started, she had 3 in close succession and I rushed her into the SPCA hospital, where they monitored her for 24 hours. She didn't have a seizure in hospital and they said she seemed healthy otherwise. When the seizures started again in July they would happen every couple of weeks or so after that until we think she had a partial stroke in Sept 2014. She was fine up until the seizures but afterwards seemed very disorientated and wasn't happy unless she was pressed up against me. I would grab her harness when I saw her starting to have a seizure and hold her close to me, as I didn't want her to hurt herself. This seemed to help the seizure stop quicker.

    After Zoe died I asked the SPCA if they wanted to do an autopsy on her for research reasons, but they said no. I know they have limited resources and the disease is very rare but it is a shame more vets don't want to know more about it. It seems that most of the dogs mentioned in this post are female. Are all your doggies spayed? Are they all over 5 years old?



  • #27

    Clem (Friday, 11 December 2015 01:35)

    My beautiful 6 year old Kai was diagnosed with SARDS today and reading all your stories bring comfort. Her blindness started on Sunday and it was very scary to see her bumping into things. Here we are 4 days later and she and I are adjusting. Aloha to you all wonderful dog lovers.

  • #28

    MaryLou (Wednesday, 20 January 2016 17:56)

    My beautiful baby Annie just went blind. The ophthalmologist confirmed it yesterday. Like everyone else, I'm devastated. They said it's SARDS and my vet wants to go ahead and test for Cushings. I'm reading everything I can. She just seems so sad and depressed. Her joy was to play ball. I did get a ball with a bell and she only lays around.

  • #29

    Linda (Wednesday, 13 April 2016 04:01)

    My husky mix, Max, who is a male, seemed different to me after I returned home from vacation about a month ago. He was with my son in our own house so I knew he was taken care of. I just felt that something was off about Max. I could not place it exactly but he looked different and was definitely was more mellow than normal. I asked my son numerous times if anything happened to Max while I was away and he insisted nothing happened. Then, for the past few weeks (we have two other dogs and weren't sure who it was until now) he has been having accidents in the house and began eating like he was starving to death all of the time. He was also panting heavily all of the time. We think he is about 8 yrs old (he was a rescue who was found running the streets so we are not sure). I did notice Max lose his balance on the stairs about a week ago but only one time. I took him to the vet and they did tested his blood and found the platelets were slightly low as was his white blood cell count. By examining him, the vet couldn't figure out why the blood counts would be off. She thought he may just have an infection or Cushings. I was sent home with medication for diarrhea and an antibiotic. When I put the first pill in some meat, I noticed Max could not see it. Then I realized what was different, his eyes were constantly dilated. I shined a light in them and they did not change. I called the vet back because I had an appointment for his blood to be retested the next day because the vet thought there may have been an error in the lab and she wanted a first morning urine sample. The bloodtest came back the same. She said it is only slight but doesn't know what is causing it. My vet planned to send us to an ophthalmologist however that night I wasn't sure if Max could even smell the food. She decided to send me to a specialist in internal medicine today first who confirmed the blood count was off, Max could smell and he also believed that Max may have SARDS. He is pretty much completely blind from what I can tell which all seemed to happen over the past several days. The specialist wants me to take him to an ophthalmologist to confirm SARDS and then have the blood retested in a few weeks. I have not made an appointment yet. I know what I will be told and the specialist didn't think it was urgent to get him in. I have also been extremely emotional due to Max's confusion. He was always the most active of our dogs and loves to run around our yard. I am just trying to take one day at a time.

    I also agree that it is completely sad that they know nothing about this disease. They have no idea what causes it and there is no treatment that I can confirm that works long term. I did read about a treatment that was done in 2007 where dogs were treated with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), a human blood product that contains antibodies from the plasma of thousands of blood donors. It is used to treat immune deficiencies, inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases. The study said the two dogs given the treatment regained limited sight. The problem is I have not found any follow up on the two dogs and have not read anything else on this treatment. I found this link from 2014 as well There is also a facebook page I don't know what to think at this point but do know I can live with a blind dog but would not want him to regain his eyesight then lose it again in a few days, weeks or months.

  • #30

    Bev (Tuesday, 03 May 2016 06:50)

    My 9 year old border terrier went blind literally overnight about a month ago, it was absolutely heart breaking to watch her she was so confused, had her bloods tested and there is an issue with her liver but nothing that would cause blindness so the vet thought it was SARDS. She is no where near the dog she used to be, she gets stressed extremely quickly, she doesn't like her walks anymore, she used to attack the hoover but she doesn't bother with it now, she never barks when she used to bark at everything and everyone going past the house she just lies around all day. The vet has said there is nothing we can do but keep an eye on her. I am not convinced her sense of smell is very good either I can hold something right under her nose and she has no clue it is there. She can hear but she isn't very good at pinpointing where the sound is coming from. I am so worried about her. Has anybody else's SARDS dogs sound similar to this?

  • #31

    Julie Ramsey (Friday, 01 July 2016 14:17)

    My pug just recieved a diagnosis of sards. He is sleeping a lot more, is that pretty normal? Otherwise he has almost every symptom listed in some of the articles.

  • #32

    Kelly Flores (Monday, 18 July 2016 16:28)

    My dog just went blind too. Sleep is now VERY different. She sleeps HARD. Doesn't wake easly . We've removed all the breakables. Made a head gear thingie so she isn't bumping her face.... that leaves me feeling distraught.

    But HOLY BAD BREATH!! Has anyone else experienced their dogs breath getting so bad you can hardly let her lay on you? She drools now too..........

  • #33

    Kelly (Monday, 18 July 2016 22:45)


    My dog who is a purebred miniature schnauzer sleeps allll the time now. And not lien normal sleep. She sleeps "hard".

  • #34

    Ann (Tuesday, 19 July 2016 19:20)

    A questions of... what would you do?

    I have a 8 year old Chinese Crested. I've had her almost that entire time. She has always been very high energy and playful. Super clean and very very easy dog to have for my lifestyle. She's been an amazing dog. She is like family to me.

    Well, ya see... about a year ago she got very hot. My house guest forgot that she was on the balcony and closed the door. The heat was tremendous for my dog. She is always quiet but for the first time i heard her barking and scratching the door. I jumped up and opened the door. She was panting heavily. I tried to cool her off with a wet rag as much as i could.

    That night, I was looking at her and she looked weird. Her eyes looked a little cloudy for the first time... within a few days she was a totally different dog. Bumping into walls. couldn't find her treats. I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with SARDS.

    Since then, she is a very different dog. Blind so she is afraid to walk. Not playful at all anymore. sits in bed all day. Eats constantly. I believe she also has Cushings disease although she hasnt been diagnosed. I have to limit her food or she'll poop several times a day including when i'm trying to sleep. ITs ok, she has pads. But another wonderful addition to her ailments is now Coprophagia (easts her poop).

    So, my question to you all is...
    If you have a dog that is essentially a completely different dog. Has SARDS, Cushings disease, coprophagia, sleeps all day... oh and add incontinence. sometimes poop will come out when she's sleeping...

    Would you put her down? She's not in pain but she is already dead. My dog died a while ago. This is a completely different dog. Would you put her down?

  • #35

    Ann (Tuesday, 19 July 2016 19:22)

    To Kelly Flores:

    Bad breath is because of coprophagia. You may not be aware of it but your dog is probably eating its poop. That happens when a dog has SARDS coupled with Cushings disease.

    I know... it sucks. no more letting the dog lick your face.

  • #36

    Kay (Tuesday, 26 July 2016 13:42)

    My Gracie went blind 18 months ago. She has SARDS. She is not the same dog. I only feed her in the mornings.I leave water out all the time. She has a lot of bathroom accidents. I bought some wide steps for her to go up on my love seat. I have put bells on my other animals so she can hear them around her so she knows they are there and does not get in there territory. My husband has built a ramp for her off of my front porch .She has adjusted pretty well. I am very lucky that I am home with her daily. I sure hope one day they find out what causes this sad disease.

  • #37

    Anthony (Tuesday, 26 July 2016 14:35)

    Key, Dogs with SARDS are predisposed to get it. Something happens at some point to trigger it. In some cause the dog gets very hot or very cold or something else but something happens to trigger SARDS. Hopefully it just happens late in their life. My dog has SARDS coupled with Cushings disease. Its basically a death sentence. The dogs personality is totally gone. Basically you become their full time baby sitter for the rest of their life. As much as i love my dog, she is not the same dog at all so this is a new dog. That helps to justify the decision of putting her down. Otherwise their life is pretty much just existing until they die.

  • #38

    Hazel (Saturday, 30 July 2016 03:29)

    I am so sorry to hear that all your doggies are getting SARDS. If you can all please keep us updated on how they are that would be great. As Cath said, it seems that many SARDS dogs die within a few years of diagnosis.

    Anthony - I am not sure how you can make a statement about why dogs get SARDS when all the experts say that there is no known cause or cure. Are you a vet specialising in this disease? My dog Zoe lived the same life and ate the same food as my other dogs and none of them got SARDS. In addition I know a lot of Zoe's relations and none of them have SARDS.

    Anothny & Ann - It is extremely sad that some dogs get SARDS. Any animal that goes blind will behave differently and not be the same as before. Some take longer to adapt than others. In the case of my Zoe, it was not a reason to put her down until she had lots of seizures, cried all the time (she appeared to be stressed and in pain) and could no longer stand up on her own to go to the toilet. Up until then (which was over a year), she adapted quickly to being blind and seemed pretty happy. Only you can decide what is best for your dog's welfare.

    Linda - from my internet research into the disease I found that the immuglobin injections only worked if they were given before the dog goes completely blind and still has some eye sight. It worked in some cases to stop the blindness getting worse but would not work if your dog was already completely blind.

    Marylou - With regard to your ball with bells - have you tried to find one with a string attached to it so that you can start by moving it not far from Max and then start to move it further away when he gets more comfortable playing with it?

    Marylou & Bev -With regard to the sense of smell, my Zoe's sense of smell deteriorated after she was diagnosed; I think that is a common symptom. It is all very stressful for the owner and dog in the beginning but things will get better for both of you once you get used to the changes.

    Clem - Aloha to you too!

    How are everyone's doggies now?



    Julie - With regard to sleeping more in a deep sleep, I think that is quite usual for this disease.

    Ann and Kelly - I didn't experience Zoe eating her poop but saying that, I did take her our for short toilet walks 7-8 times a day (as she was so incontinent), so I didn't give her chance to eat it. Her last walk was 6-7 hours after her last meal, so she didn't poop in the night

  • #39

    Anthony (Saturday, 30 July 2016 09:40)


    I am not a vet but i have been studying SARDS and its cause for years. I have met with experts all around the country to understand SARDS. I have met with Dr. Plechner. I drove to LA with my dog and he examined her. He said SARDS is caused by a hormone imbalance that can very well be triggered by an event. In my case she got too hot in the TX sun on my balcony where she was for less than 5 minutes. That night she went blind. A few days later i took to her to a large opthamology group in Dallas who ran several tests and further educated me on SARDS.

    The experts say nothing can be done and you should just learn to live with a blind dog. Thats true but not in the first few days of having SARDS. You can start hormone treatment but if you waited more than a few days, its too late.

    Lots more thats not really worth documenting here but I have been studying every thing out there on SARDS for 2 years. I have been all around the country meeting with the experts. Bottom line is nothing can be done once its too late. Once the dog has SARDS and has for over a few weeks, its too late. If you catch it early enough you can minimize the effects of full blown SARDS but that also would require drug treatment 2 times a day for life starting with injections.

    If a dog simply has SARDS than thats one thing but as in Ann's case (and mine) if you add in Cushings disease, the dog will be extremely hungry all the time. If you have pads in your house, eventually a dog that is always hungry will discover eating poop because there is undigested food.

    I love my dog very much but the reality is, the dog i fell in love with is gone. What is left is a dog that is existing and its not selfish to consider putting the dog down when they have a quality of life that is just existing and complicates your life. Its a personal decision. My dog is not in pain which is why I haent put her down. I have thought about it but I cant tell and even pay someone to kill my dog. I do however wish she would pass naturally. Its best for her as all the reasons for having a dog are no longer there. She's not playful at all. She just eats, pees/poops and sleeps. She has always slept in my bed and when i got to sleep, she wants to join me but she cant jump so i have to put her on the bed and take her off if she wants to go to her pad. So i dont sleep through the night anymore either.

    its a lot of managing her eating and drinking schedule and after 2 years, i'm exhausted. I know she's close to the end. Everytime i see her, i check to see if she's still breathing. I know someday she wont be. I've already cried at the thought but i cant be selfish. She has no life at all and is just waiting to die.

  • #40

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Saturday, 30 July 2016 14:01)

    Thanks for your in depth reply Anthony. I seems like you have done a lot to try and help your dog. I know it is hard trying to manage and live with a SARDS dog. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home but I still felt guilty whenever I had to go out for appointments and leave Zoe. When I went out, I contained her on the ground floor of my home and she had my other dogs for company. At night she slept on her bed, which was on the floor next to mine. I always put incontinence sheets on her bed and wrapped them with a towel, that was easily washable. She would sometimes wake me in the night when she would suddenly get up and bump into something. If there was a thunderstorm, she would sleep on the bed with me. I would talk to her calmly before I went to sleep and again as soon as I woke up and this seemed to keep her calm and reasonably happy. She was a seriously active and happy dog before she went blind and all of my dogs used to run a lot together in the woods near where I live. They have always done everything together, so I don't think Zoe would have experienced any different event that would have triggered the SARDS, but I can't say for sure.

    With regard to your not getting any sleep. Is it feasible for you to sleep on your mattress on the floor, so that you and your dog do not have to worry about her falling off the bed?

    My decision to put Zoe to sleep was not taken lightly and I still question whether I should kept her alive a bit longer. She was far from the dog she was when she could see and she was not the dog she was in the first year of being blind. She had deteriorated badly. Some days were better than others but when I took her out one evening after a day of her constantly crying, having fits or being in a trance, she started spinning in a circle and couldn't stand up to pee or poop; she turned her head towards me and cried out with stress and possibly pain. I burst into tears knowing that it wasn't fair to keep her alive like this. The next day I made the arrangements for the vet to come to my home the following day. The night before, I invited a close friend over who also loved Zoe and we had dinner and I fed her her favourite sardines (they are supposed to be good for the eyes) and some yummy treats. The next morning I took her to my old village where we had lived for 6 years from when she was a puppy and where she went blind and I took her on her favourite walk. She seemed happy but her head was tilted to one side (we think she had had a partial stroke a few weeks earlier). My old neighbour joined us on the walk with his dog and said she didn't look too bad that day. I contemplated calling the vet to cancel but decided that I couldn't bear to see her on another bad day (like the day before) and I would just be delaying the inevitable. I brought her home and gave her more of her favourite food and lay on the sofa with her cuddling her. The vet came and I held her in my arms whilst she was put to sleep. It was sad, beautiful and a relief, all at the same time.

    If you choose to put your dog to sleep, then I would highly recommend that you pay the extra money to have the vet come to your home, so that your dog is happy in your arms and in a place she knows and feels safe. When my first dog was put to sleep, she was in a vet clinic having just been opened up for surgery. The vets found that the tumour in her liver was too big for them to be able to operate on it and save her. They called me and asked me if I wanted them to sew her up and then wake her so that I could bring her home to die. They said she would only have lasted another few days, as she was unable to eat. I was in shock and had to make a quick decision. I asked them to put her to sleep on the table as I didn't want her to suffer in pain just so that I could say goodbye. It still haunts me though that she wasn't in my arms at home when she went. I am lucky that I still have my 2 gorgeous male dogs and I now live with my boyfriend who has a Doberman (also called Zoe) and a cat. I couldn't imagine having a life without animals. It must be daunting for you if you only have one dog. Keep your chin up; only you can decide what is best for you and your dog.

  • #41

    Mari Border (Tuesday, 13 December 2016 12:08)

    Wow I'm so amazed by all the messages from people all over the world. This is a very useful site as there's so little useful information out there. My Lhasa apso was diagnosed with SARDS about two months ago. Her vision seems to deteriorate over a few weeks but she is completely blind now. A couple of days ago she started peeing and pooping in the house. Something she never would have done in the past. I'm wondering if anyone has a suggestion about what to do. Also, is this going to be the norm now? I have hardwood floors and have put out runners to help her find her way around the house but now they've become her pooping and peeing places so I've taken them up. Frustrating for me. She is my first dog as an adult. I got her when I retired four years ago as a companion and motivation to get out and walk. We used to walk five miles a day. Now it's just down the block and back as she's to anxious to go much farther. So, I'm not a very experienced dog owner and not sure how to respond to the peeing and pooping in the house. What I've tried is that I won't let her sit with me and we walk I give her a treat when she pees and Or poops outside. Any suggestions please to Mari in Oregon. Thank you.

  • #42

    Hazel (Thursday, 15 December 2016 23:30)

    Hi Mari,

    I am so sorry to hear about your doggy. With regard to the toileting in your house, I would suggest you take her out every hour or two (apart from when you are sleeping). I used to take Zoe out 7-8 times per day after she got SARDS. Hopefully that will help. It may also be behavioural. Is she doing it when you are at home or when you are out? Do you have stairs in your house and any fitted carpet? If you put down small carpets/ rugs for her to find her way around, then maybe you could just buy some very cheap ones that can be easily washed in the washing machine. Please let me know how you get on. Cheers, Hazel

  • #43

    Tristan Hendley (Sunday, 01 January 2017 18:08)

    My dog just went blind in his left eye does this mean that his other eye is going to do the same?

  • #44

    Doug (Friday, 20 January 2017 06:25)

    Just found your website tonight. My 11 year old golden was recently diagnosed with SARDS. He seems to be handling it better than my wife and I. So far, he doesn't seem terribly disturbed by the whole thing so we're just taking it a day at a time. Being a bit older, his lifestyle hasn't changed much. Sleeps a lot, and really just hangs around whichever room we're in. Lots more walking with him, more talking to him and we've purchased clippers to do his hair at home. I'm hoping that our bond will get even stronger as a result of this.

  • #45

    Chiquita Meli (Monday, 06 February 2017 19:09)

    Appreciate this post. Will try it out.

  • #46

    Pedro Bastos (Sunday, 26 March 2017 20:09)

    Many thanks for all this chain of knowledge,my dog Baltazar was diagnosed with sards last October after my holiday trip.As a sharpei he had been twice operated on his eyes because of the skin but he had a normal life.two years ago he also was diagnosed with epilepsy but that he haves sards he had 2 episodes of epilepsy and it's hard for me to see it,because when he recovers from the episode he starts to cry a lot and gets very confused,sometimes I think that it's because he is blind.i had pass a difficult time dealing with it because I love to much my all have said e drinks to many water and is obsessed with food,he passed from 23kl to almost 29Klg since he got diagnosed with I am dealing with a issue because i lieve in Europe and will have to go to work for 4 months to Asia.he will be on his home with the rest of the family but he is very connected with me.Just hope that everything goes well. Only at night he doesn't want to go to his walk.

  • #47

    Tim (Thursday, 21 September 2017 03:03)

    Can a dog fie from sards?

  • #48

    mara (Monday, 25 September 2017 17:27)

    This was such a wonderful piece. My spitfire dachshund has just developed sards and everything you said about ZOE related to my Georgia. I was in such a state about it. Now I feel a lot better about living with sards.

  • #49

    Cathy (Saturday, 24 February 2018 00:00)

    My 14 year old Maltese Shi Tzu has had SARDS for about a month and I am not coping as I am having to get up about 4 times a night to help him to food/water/outside to toilet. He just seems sad all the time. I keep getting told by vets to give him a chance and he will adjust but it is hard to watch. We have decided to give him a go. He is also deaf. Does anyone have some helpful suggestions for me

  • #50

    Amber (Saturday, 17 March 2018 17:54)

    Hi! I am so late to see this thread but thought I would take a chance to reply. My older Jack Russell was recently diagnosed. She is still having trouble navigating the house. It’s been about : weeks. My biggest concern is when I leave her. She is crate trained and her crate is her safe haven. Even when we are home, I leave the door open and she goes in to lay down. But if I leave her, I come home to her panting and freaking out. I leave the tv on for her. The vet gave her Xanax, which only helps for and hour or two. The other concern, and the biggest, her bathroom habits. She has a huge increase in urination but not that much of an increase in water intake. And the pooping. Omg. Like every hour. And it’s normal consistency. She literally has to be taken out every hour to pee and poop. I am only working part time and just today, after being left for only 4 hours she messed all in her crate. Anyone else experience any of the bathroom issues and does it get better??

  • #51

    Bente (Wednesday, 16 May 2018 15:37)

    My White poodle Jakob Blanco has Sards. First diagnosed 3 month ago. He went blind in 3 weeks. Then diabetics was diagnoses and now he has colitis. It is very sad to see my 9 year old poodle slowly die. This is the saddest I have ever experienced with my Rescue poodle.

  • #52 (Monday, 02 July 2018)

    Tel weeks ago my boxer 4 years old das diagnosed with SARDS. She started gaining weight about two months ago. She wouldnt want to play or excercise so much and she only could think about eating...
    We took her to the vet and her blood studies were good.
    Teo weeks ago she went was so sudden we were so sad..the oftalmologist made studies and said it was SARDS..
    But wanted to try wouldn't change her sight but she wet her bed..out bed..and all places.
    She is disoriented at nights mostly..
    She turned five years old last week but looks like she is older.
    Breaks my heart to see her like that..she is a different dog now. However we love her deeply..but these past weeks have been exhausting for at nights I take her to the drink water and convince her to walk..
    She has always slept with she is gonna have to sleep downstairs to prevent her from falling down the stairs
    I am so angry with this disease!!
    She is so young..
    Only a few people understands what we are going through..
    I love Guaf and I want her to live as happy as possible the rest of her life..I am trying...

  • #53

    Janice (Tuesday, 17 July 2018 21:51)

    My 4 year old coonhound has become blind. We just had bloodwork done bec as use of weight gain. She had all of her vaccinations. A week later she's almost completely blind. We thought it was from vaccines. Shes coping well. But I know it will get worse. What a horrible disease.

  • #54

    Becca (Wednesday, 25 July 2018 23:12)

    I am so inspired and in awe of your story. I just found out that my Puggle, Artie, has SARDS. I have been crying (while he is in the other room with my father) and am scouring the internet for any advice possible.
    What do you think of the Halo's they sell? I don't want him to be uncomfortable, but I also don't want him to hurt himself.
    As I just found out tonight, I will have to accept it and move forward. He is 13 but in good health. I wish more was done about reseaching this cruel disease that took my baby's eyes away. I would do anything to get them back and see him run and play, and look into mine.

  • #55

    Sonja Rossouw (Monday, 13 August 2018 03:59)

    Hi. Megan is my 11yr old Duchund. She is paralyzed for the past 6 years after back injury and operation that failed. She was diagnosed with SARDS 3 weeks ago. Looking back now she had all the symptoms. She is coping well. She finds her way around at home although all her senses seems affected. Not smelling that well any more. We still go for short walkies in her walking cart before we put her in her pet stroller for a walk in the neighbourhood. My biggest concern is her bad sleeping patterns. She sleeps with me on my bed. When I put out the light she will start to shiver for up to an hour before falling into a restless sleep. I now have to empty her bladder during the night (I do it manually because of her being paralyzed). She keeps me awake for hours. I am exhausted in the mornings. I know she must feel anxious, but in the long run it will be bad for both of us. Do you have any advise regarding the restlessness at night? Will appreaciate a good nights rest....

  • #56

    Elisa (Tuesday, 14 August 2018 21:22)

    Thanks to everyone who has posted here � so very helpful. Our girl will be 10 in Oct and unfortunately has many of these symptoms for the past 4 months. The Vet never mentioned SARDS and my girl did not have Cushing when tested :( the vet said possible brain tumour. After reading everything here I believe it is SARDS and will look into seeing an optomologist. At least now I know what to expect in the coming months. Thank you all so much for sharing. Such a difficult time �

  • #57

    Sharon (Friday, 24 August 2018 16:39)

    my dog has just been diagnosed with SARDS
    she's a 9 year old Lhasa apso
    it's been very sudden and just so sad

  • #58

    Hazel - HK Rescue Puppies (Monday, 03 September 2018 08:40)

    It is so sad that more and more dogs are being diagnosed with SARDS and there is still no known cause or cure. NB. I am not a vet, so I am sorry that I cannot give anyone vet/ medical advise; I can only share my story and experiences with you about my own SARDS dog. I wold love to be able to tell you it gets better, but it didn't for my poor Zoe and I. A year and a half after diagnosis , vets suspected my Zoe of having a brain tumour. She went blind with SARDS Jan/ Feb 2013 a few moths before her 6th birthday. In April 2014 she started to have epileptic fits. These fits increased in frequency by July 2014. In September 2014 I came home and she looked like she had had a stroke. She cried all the time and I would often find her in a trance and would have to call her name and pat her or wiggle her harness to get her out of it. I work from home but still had to go out to meet clients or go to the supermarket periodically. I sadly couldn't be with her 24/7. I would come home sometimes and find her completely traumatised and things knocked over. These incidences became more and more frequent. It got to the point where she couldn't even stand up to pee and poo without spinning in circles and crying out. As sad as it was to say goodbye to her, I felt she had no quality of life left and it wasn't fair to keep her alive. I paid the vet to come to my home after giving her her favourite meal and I held her in my arms. I didn't cry until she was gone. The vet and nurse cried with me. I carried her to my car and drove her straight to the crematorium. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make and I still cry when I think about it. My thoughts and wishes go out to all of you having to deal with this dreadful, debilitating disease. May our doggies that pass on, rest in peace at Rainbow Bridge XO .

  • #59

    Tamara (Saturday, 22 September 2018 11:29)

    Thank you for the useful tips. I was devastated when I found out my nine year old sharpei can’t see. I am scared she won’t walk anymore . We used to walk 10 km, now we struggle to make 300 m. I hope this will improve.

  • #60

    Tina (Saturday, 20 October 2018 07:17)

    Hi...thank you for your story, I am going through the same thing with my beloved Effie. She has SARDS and every day I can tell it’s taking it’s toll on her. She is 8.5 years old and I’m trying my hardest to help her get through being blind. Breaks my heart to see her like this though.

  • #61

    Gracie’s mom (Tuesday, 13 November 2018 18:05)

    Our 10 year old Westie was diagnosed 11/4/18 with SARDS. I’m not sure she’s completely blind yet but I’ve noticed she’s started drooling and that’s new. She’s been on DES for years because she had bladder stones so I’m hoping she won’t have the bed wetting that everyone keeps talking about. I take her out more often than we used to but I’m really hoping that doesn’t become a problem. She was miserable when she was incontinent. I’m afraid to say that reading these comments is depressing. The vets act like it’s no big deal..the dog will adjust. But it sure seems like it’s worse than that...

  • #62

    Kobe (Tuesday, 20 November 2018 19:38)

    My pug Kobe has just been diagnosed, he is constantly walking into things and it breaks my heart. He has some good days where he wants to go for a walk and explore and bad days like today where he won’t leave the house. We are in the process of helping him to be able to move around the house safely when we aren’t home - any ideas on how we can help him avoid doorways and furniture?

  • #63

    Faye (Wednesday, 12 December 2018 10:14)

    My toy poodle, Lexi, 11 has been blind for a few weeks. She has the constant hunger & thirst & has gained weight. She also has a dry cough & gags but never throws up. None of you mentioned a cough. She also has episodes of heavy panting. I’ve seen 2 vets & no real diagnosis. Please let me know if your dogs ever had hacking cough after eating, drinking, activity.

  • #64

    Julene (Saturday, 22 December 2018 22:29)

    My chihuahua mix, Berkley, 11 yo, was diagnosed with SARDS in October. It has been so hard to see him lose his fun personality, he just seems so depressed, not the same dog. Our biggest problem has been accidents in the house, which he NEVER did before. And he has episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, pretty severe at times. He does have bouts of dry coughing, but has had this since we got him at about a year of age. We have lost our active, joyful dog--don't know at this point if things will get any better or not. Just doing our best, with lots of love and laptime.

  • #65

    Julene (Monday, 31 December 2018 14:37)

    To Becca, that asked about the Halo. It does work really well. Our Berkley adjusted to it quickly, but he now just wants to sleep, not interested in exploring any more. Vomiting a continuous problem.

  • #66

    Jennie (Wednesday, 02 January 2019 09:27)

    Louie has the same diagnosis from CAIRN TERRIER HEALTH GROUP UK.she has a lot of underlying problems I.e. Low T4.stiff hips,oesophageal probs and most of the above symptoms.All we can do for her is love her,and make sure she is safe,and what life she has is the best I can give her

  • #67

    JR (Sunday, 10 February 2019 10:04)

    My rat terrier has suddenly gone blind previous 11 years has never used the restroom in the house now goes in the house , how did you handle this

  • #68

    Kelly (Tuesday, 30 April 2019 03:34)

    My pom was also newly diagnosed. March 2019. I am heartbroken but I am determined to help her adjust as much as possible so she can still live a happy fullfiling life. Besides blindness, her constant hunger is very sad to watch. Since she’s hungry all the time she gets anxious and would walk around and acts crazy when there’s food. She also wakes up every nite asking me for food. We sleep together but no matter how I try to calm her she wouldn’t go to sleep. She needs to eat. And of cos she’s much less active. Recently I got a snuffle mat from amazon hopefully that will keep her interested cos another problem is boredom. She’s not interested in her toys and play anymore. Even squeaky toys she’s not into them.
    I hate SARDS! What a horrible disease! It’s so sad but I need to be positive for her
    Also from doing a lot of readings I found that SARDS dogs have high level of liver enzymes so I use a supplement called “denosyl “ for liver support for her one hour before dinner. Hopefully that would help her liver n deter the damage

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