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Cher, Dog Caregiver--Extensive Experience
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 21387
Experience:  Extensive Experience Caring for Canines; Specializing in behavior and health concerns.
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I think my dog might be losing her eyesight, suddenly tonight.

Customer Question

I think my dog might be losing her eyesight, suddenly tonight. Could this be retina detachment and what should I do?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Cher replied 8 years ago.

How old is your dog and what breed?

Does she have any medical conditions you're aware of?

What symptoms is she exhibiting, making you think her vision may be decreasing?


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
she is a 5 year old Akita. She has been very healthy until now. She has had some skin problems, itching, dryness. She had puppies and after they were all gone, she was thin so we changed formulas on her food. Nutro Natural Large Breed for several years, then changed to Nutro Natural High Energy. She started putting on a little more weight and was looking good. We had changed our stud over to this food also. After 2 months our stud died suddenly with no symptoms prior. He was 9 and that is pretty average for an Akita, 8 - 10 years according to large breeders I have talked with.

She is very tired, sleeping all the time. She flinches when you pet her left eye. She almost acts like she can't hear very well either. She goes in circles and she has even run into things just a few minutes ago. It's getting worse.
Expert:  Cher replied 8 years ago.
Hello again, and thanks for your reply with additional information.

While VKH-like syndrome in humans can also cause deafness, this is not usually as typical in dogs. However, severe eye pain is a key symptom of this condition, so flinching when you pet her near her left eye, is indicative of irritation or pain. Giving her the Metacam for pain, was a good move on your part, but since she's exhibiting more symptoms since she saw the vet a short while ago, she needs to be evaluated again, ASAP. Retinal detachment and other eye conditions, to which canines are prone, are always possible, but severe pain, decreased vision, and skin and fur lightening are typical symptoms of VKH-like syndrome. You can read more about it, here:

The Akita breed IS prone to this condition.

It would be best for your to bring your dog to a veterinary ophthalmology specialist to assess her current symptoms. If your vet can't make a referral, check here (if you're located in the U.S.):

Veterinary specialists can also be found in ER vet centers and veterinary colleges.

I hope you're able to have your dog definitely diagnosed and treated, so she's not in pain, and some of her vision may be saved.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Do I need to take her to an ER tonight or will it be okay to wait until the 2:00 appt I have for her tomorrow?
Expert:  Cher replied 8 years ago.
Hi again,

If she seems to be in a lot of pain and is uncomfortable, I'd recommend an ER visit tonight. Also, as I mentioned, she can get immediate care to help her discomfort, now, and there should be an ophthalmology specialist on staff, who can give you more information re: what's going on with her eyes.

Cher and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I am accepting your answer. Just also wanted you to know that the next day she started siezing and we had to put her down. Our vet had told us earlier that day that he thought she had a brain tumor. It sure progressed fast.
Expert:  Cher replied 8 years ago.
Hello again, and thank you for your accept and your reply.

I'm so sorry to hear this sad news about your beloved dog, and please accept my heartfelt condolences. I had no idea the vet had suspected a brain tumor; we now know this was the reason for her failing eyesight and other symptoms.

Perhaps this might help to ease your grief, in some small way:

Again, my sincerest condolences.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write and send your condolences. The website you sent was very sweet, I am sharing it with some other friends who have recently lost their pets. Also, I read it to my 5 year old grandson who was very sad for the loss also. We had been talking about her being in heaven and waiting for all of us to come someday.

Yes, knowing there was a brain tumor made much more sense. I didn't know either when I had written to ask you, not until the next day.

Thanks again for your care and concern,
Expert:  Cher replied 8 years ago.
Hi again, Tamara, and you're most welcome; it was my pleasure to help you and your family, and I'm glad the Rainbow Bridge poem helped you, your friends and even your young grandson, to understand that some day we will all be reunited with our beloved pets who have passed on.

I love that poem, and become emotional each time I read it, thinking of the pets I've lost in the past, but it's 'cathartic' in a way.

Right now, you and your family are on the road to healing, and you have your wonderful memories and photos to keep your furry girl in your heart, always!