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Understanding Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic eye disorder that affects many dog breeds. PRA causes a gradual degeneration of the retina, leading to blindness. In this paper, we will explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments available for PRA in dogs.

Symptoms of PRA

The early signs of PRA are often subtle, making it difficult to detect. However, if you are aware of some of the common symptoms, you may be able to catch the condition early. Some of the common symptoms of PRA include:

  • Night blindness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Lack of interest in toys or games
  • Difficulty navigating in low light

As the condition progresses, dogs may become completely blind. It is important to be vigilant about your dog’s vision and take note of any changes in their behavior or eyesight.

Causes of PRA

PRA is caused by a genetic mutation that affects the cells in the retina. The condition is inherited, which means that it is passed down from a dog’s parents. There are several genes that have been identified as being associated with PRA, and the condition can affect different breeds differently. Some of the breeds that are more susceptible to PRA include:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Irish Setters
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Poodles
  • Samoyeds

If you have a dog that belongs to one of these breeds, it is important to be aware of the signs of PRA and take them to the vet for regular check-ups.

Diagnosis of PRA

A veterinary ophthalmologist can diagnose PRA. The diagnosis is usually made through a combination of a physical examination and specialized tests, such as an electroretinogram (ERG) or an ophthalmoscopic exam. These tests help the vet to identify any abnormalities in the retina and determine the severity of the condition.

Treatments for PRA

Unfortunately, there is no cure for PRA in dogs. However, there are several treatments available that can help manage the symptoms of the condition. Some of these treatments include:

  • Antioxidant supplements: Antioxidants can help slow down the progression of PRA and protect the retina from further damage.
  • Prescription diets: Special diets that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help improve your dog’s vision and overall eye health.
  • Surgery to remove cataracts: In some cases, dogs with PRA may develop cataracts, which can further impair their vision. Surgery to remove cataracts can help improve their vision and quality of life.

It is important to note that treatments for PRA are not guaranteed to work for every dog. The effectiveness of these treatments may depend on the severity of the condition, the age of the dog, and other factors.


Q: Is PRA only found in certain dog breeds?

A: No, PRA can affect many different dog breeds. However, some breeds are more susceptible to the condition than others. It is important to be aware of the signs of PRA and take your dog to the vet for regular check-ups if they belong to a breed that is more susceptible to the condition.

Q: Can PRA be prevented?

A: Since PRA is a genetic condition, it cannot be prevented. However, responsible breeding practices can help reduce the likelihood of passing the condition on to offspring. If you are planning on breeding your dog, it is important to have them tested for PRA and other genetic conditions before breeding.

Q: Can dogs with PRA still have a good quality of life?

A: Yes, dogs with PRA can still have a good quality of life. With proper management and care, blind dogs can adapt to their surroundings and enjoy a full and happy life. It is important to provide your dog with a safe and comfortable environment, and to continue to give them love and attention.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy in dogs is a serious condition that can lead to blindness. While there is no cure for the condition, there are treatments available that can help manage the symptoms. Early detection and proper management can help ensure that affected dogs can still lead happy and fulfilling lives. If you suspect that your dog may have PRA, it is important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. With proper care and attention, dogs with PRA can still live long and happy lives.