Progressive Retinal Degeneration in Dogs - Page 4

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Progressive Retinal Degeneration in Dogs

By: Dr. Noelle McNabb

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There is no treatment for PRD. Most forms of the disease are inherited as a simple autosomal recessive trait, which allows many dogs to be silent carriers of the disease. This inheritance pattern, combined with the fact that many dogs do not show signs until after they are older, make the disease very difficult to eradicate in some breeds of dogs.

For the 15 breeds of dogs in which genetic testing has been developed (, blood testing of potential breeding dogs is the best way to identify both carriers and dogs that will show clinical signs. For all other breeds, electroretinography can be performed as a screening tool to detect the disease prior to the onset of clinical signs and retinal abnormalities.

The most common screening test used for PRD/PRA in breeding dogs is the annual examination of their eyes by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Results of this exam are then forwarded to the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF,, an organization that keeps data on the eyes of many purebred dogs in the United States. If the dog is found to be free of inherited eye disease, then it is issued a clearance number by CERF that is good for one year

As more CERF examinations are performed and as more genetic tests are developed, hopefully breeders will be able to avoid using affected dogs and carrier dogs in their breeding programs and the incidence of PRA will decrease with time.

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