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Cofactors associated with Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome: 151 dogs within a reference population

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To determine factors associated with sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) diagnosed within one referral population.

Animals studied

151 dogs diagnosed with SARDS.


Breed, age, sex, and body weight were compared between dogs with electroretinogram-confirmed SARDS and dogs presented to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (UCD-VMTH) from 1991 to 2014.


SARDS was diagnosed in 151 dogs, representing 1.3% of dogs presented to the UCD-VMTH for ophthalmic disease. Although dogs of 36 breeds were affected, the Dachshund (n = 31, 21%), Schnauzer (16, 11%), Pug (11, 7%), and Brittany (5, 3%) were significantly overrepresented, and the Labrador Retriever (3, 2%) was significantly underrepresented vs. the reference population (P < 0.001). Median (range) age and body weight of affected vs. reference dogs were 8.9 (3-20) vs. 6.8 (0.1-26) years and 12.4 (2.8-52.7) vs. 22.3 (0.1-60) kg, respectively. Dogs 6-10 years of age and between 10-20 kg in body weight were significantly overrepresented in the SARDS population, while dogs <6 years of age were significantly underrepresented (P < 0.01). Spayed females (59% of affected dogs) were significantly overrepresented compared to the reference population, whereas intact females (1% of affected dogs) were significantly underrepresented.


Consistent with previous studies, smaller, middle-aged, spayed female dogs may be at increased risk of developing SARDS. Unlike previous studies, this is the first study comparing a variety of SARDS-affected breeds to a reference population. Potentially increased risk of SARDS in several breeds, particularly Dachshunds, suggests a familial factor that warrants further investigation using genetic techniques.

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