The last 7 days have been rough on me. This week’s featured pet insurance claim discusses a personal experience with my own 6-year-old dog, Ellie. Last Tuesday, she was diagnosed with SARDS which is sudden acute retinal degeneration syndrome. I had never heard of the condition before, but have certainly learned a lot about it in the past week.
What is it: SARDS is a degeneration of the retina in dogs which leads to irreversible vision loss. It may occur over a month or as quickly as overnight.
Causes: Not much is known about the cause of SARDS but it is believed not to be genetically linked, and according to Michigan Veterinary Specialists, “It is currently thought that it is a toxic reaction in the retina possibly related fat bi product, hormonal and immune-mediated causes.”
The condition may occur in any dog, but it is more common in females than males, and Dachshunds and Schnauzers seem to be predisposed.
Symptoms: A dog with SARDS may become very hungry and thirsty for a few months and potentially gain weight due to the increased hunger. The other symptom is vision loss, however the eyes may still appear normal from the outside.
Diagnosis: Ellie had an ERG (electroretinogram) which detects retinal activity. If there is no activity, then SARDS is confirmed. However, if retinal activity is presence, then the veterinary ophthalmologist will need to perform further tests to determine the cause of vision loss.
Treatment: Unfortunately there is no treatment for this condition. However, the increased hunger and thirst symptoms are supposed to subside after 2-3 months. At this point, we are just hoping that she will keep her blurry vision and not go completely blind, but there is really no way to tell.
My pet insurance claim included a visit to my regular vet with a thyroid test and an eye pressure test (for glaucoma), and a visit to the veterinary ophthalmologist which included an examination and an ERG.
Deductible applied: -$0.00
Ineligible costs (exam fees): -$187.00
10% co-insurance: -$44.39
Trupanion repaid: $399.46
Ellie is still getting used to life with less vision. She bumps into things when we’re outside of her familiar places (home and my desk area at work) and this makes her frustrated and stressed out. But we got some toys with jingle bells inside that are easier for her to find and we are glad that she is still wagging her tail!