Positive Retinal Atrophy in Dogs What you need to know about retinal atrophy in dogs.

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While a healthy dog can live a long life, various disorders can cause it to be shorter. Progressive retinal atrophy is the most typical eye condition in canines (PRA). The retina is harmed by the genetic condition known as PRA.

A healthy dog can live a long life, but there are some diseases that can shorten it. The most common eye disease in dogs is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). It's estimated that at least 100 dog breeds carry the risk of PRA.

What is PRA?

PRA is a genetic disease that affects the retina. It causes progressive blindness, but it's not contagious. There are three forms of PRA:

  • Progressive rod-cone degeneration (PRCD) - this form is the most common and affects both rods and cones; it's seen in dogs under two years old.

  • Progressive retinitis pigmentosa - this form affects only rods; it's seen in dogs over 8 years old.

  • Combined progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA) - this form affects both rods and cones; it's seen in dogs over 2 years old with a history of PRA or PRCD in their family tree, regardless of age at onset.

What Are The Symptoms Of PRA?

As the disease progresses, your dog may start experiencing some changes in its vision. The first symptoms include:

  • The pupils of the eyes become dilated (enlarged). As a result, your dog may have trouble focusing on objects that are close up or far away from it.

  • The eyes begin to appear cloudy in color. This is due to the accumulation of proteins within the lens of the eye, which leads to cloudiness or "cataracts."

  • Your dog may no longer be able to see at night because its retina has deteriorated over time and can no longer detect light well enough for night vision.

Is There A Cure For PRA?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for PRA. This is because it's a genetic disease, which means that your dog will pass on the disease to his or her offspring. However, there are treatments and pet medications, dog eye drops, and pet supplies available in a pet pharmacy in order to manage the disease and help your dog live a full life. You should consult your vet about a diet like Hills prescription diet and pet medication options for your dog if you think he or she may have PRA.

How Is PRA Diagnosed?

A blood sample is taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results of this test can help determine if your dog is at risk for PRA, but it will not provide an accurate prediction as to whether your dog has the disease or not. 

Your veterinarian will examine your pet's eyes with a slit lamp, which magnifies and brightens objects so they can be seen clearly in detail. This allows the vet to look closely at each eye's retina and optic nerve for signs of damage or degeneration caused by PRA. 

They may also do other tests such as visual acuity tests (measuring how well your pet can see), electroretinograms (recording electrical impulses that travel through their retinas), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and retinal biopsies (samples taken from inside the eye).

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting PRA?

To prevent your dog from getting PRA, you can:

  • Ask breeders if they're aware of any dogs in their lines that have had PRA. If so, ask them to test those dogs and their offspring for the disease.

  • Check with family members to see if anyone has had a dog with PRA or another eye disease that could be linked to it. If so, ask the vet about testing your dog for the same condition and its related diseases.

  • As soon as you bring home a new puppy or rescue a senior dog from an animal shelter, have it tested for any signs of eye disease by visiting your veterinarian and following up with annual exams thereafter (though some vets will recommend more frequent visits).


If you have a purebred dog, check with reputable breeders to learn more about the health of your dog's parents and grandparents. Ask if they were tested for PRA and what results were obtained on these dogs. If no tests were done, ask the breeder to test your dog as soon as possible.

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