What This Is
This is a genetic, inherited disease that affects the retina of a dog’s eyes. This is why all dogs should be tested via the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that the eyes are normal, including a DNA test for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) before they are used for breeding.
When this happens, both eyes will be affected at the same time. There is a degeneration of the retinas. The dog does not experience any pain. However, it is progressive and a dog will begin to lose their eyesight and will eventually become blind.
This can affect all breeds, but is unusually prevalent with miniature Poodles.
Symptoms do vary in Maltipoo dogs with this eye disease, however the most common signs are:
• Night blindness – You may notice that your dog is not seeing very well after the sun sets....this will hold true indoors as well, when lights are set low. He may stumble into walls or be reluctant to go up or down a staircase, etc.
• Dilated pupils of the dog’s eyes.
• The dog's eyes may appear much more shinier than normal.
• As this progresses daytime vision will start to be affected as well.
• Cataracts may develop, however these are not at fault for the loss of vision
While this can strike a dog of any age, it is most often seen in those that are over the age of 5 years old.
How This Progresses
With the PRA eye disease, from the time that symptoms are obvious and a Maltipoo is taken to a veterinarian to confirm the disease, it can be anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years for the dog to have no sight at all.
Once a Maltipoo owner notices any of the above symptoms, the dog should immediately have a full and complete eye exam by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist.
Using an ophthalmoscope tool, the type of eye examination tool that most of us are used to seeing and having used for eye exams, the vet will examine the dog’s eyes. This is also known as fundoscopty. The veterinarian will look for several things: A shrinking of blood vessels, a loss of pigmentation of an area called the fundus (which is the interior surface of the eye) and an increased reflection from the area of the eye known as the tapetum (a line layer of tissue that is located right behind the retina).
For Maltipoo dogs that have an advanced stage of PRA, the vet may also look for a darkening of the optic disc (part of the optic nerve). Seeing these different elements will prompt a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis of PRA.