The poodle's endearingly doleful eyes rank high among their most defining physical traits. Unfortunately, the breed is particularly prone to several types of eye problems that can make things a little murky. Lock eyes with your puppy every now and then to make sure his eyes are in good health.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is a condition caused by several diseases that damage the hidden part of your poodle's eyeballs. Vulnerability to this condition is hereditary, and poodles are one of the breeds that are at high risk for developing it, according to the Poodle Club of America. Unfortunately, there is no way to mitigate or prevent your pet's eventual loss of vision from retinal atrophy. Your dog may be frightened or depressed as he loses his sight, so it's important you keep playing and interacting with him even if it's difficult to coordinate. Your toes are going to get stepped on, but it's worth it to keep his spirits up. Use toys that make a lot of noise to help your dog find them. It's also a good idea to "dog proof" the house, covering or moving dangerous objects with sharp corners that he could collide with accidentally.
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
Retinal atrophy is not the only hereditary eye problem poodles can develop. The breed is also known to harbor genes that encourage optic nerve hypoplasia, which disrupts and deteriorates ocular activity. This disease can be more vicious or merciful than atrophy, depending how look at it. Rather than slowly losing their sight over time, dogs with hypoplasia are born with full or partial blindness. A dog born partially blind may be better able to adapt to it and learn to use his other senses compared to a one who develops blindness later in life.
Poodles can also develop cataracts just like older humans can. Cataracts look like a layer of semi-transparent film that bends light and distorts your dog's vision. While the development of cataracts is linked to genetics, poodles have a relatively high incident rate; they are also a common result of the natural deterioration that accompanies aging. Your pup may have had healthy eyes all though his adulthood, but that does not mean he won't get cataracts when he becomes a senior. While cataracts can be limited to only one eye, they will often appear in both eventually.
Glaucoma can also be passed down through your poodle's family tree, although breeders have taken some actions to regulate the propagation of this trait. This condition describes the buildup of fluid in the back of the eye. The fluid applies pressure to the sensitive ocular nerves that connect your dog's eyes with his brain. Over time, this pressure can cause partial or complete blindness. It is recommended that potential poodle owners examine their puppy's parents to ensure good eye health before deciding on a pet. Breeders should test their dog for this condition before breeding them, according to Discovering Poodles. Don't lose hope, though. Unlike some other genetic eye problems, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe medication or recommend surgery to help your dog. Catching the problem early is critical for treating the condition before permanent damage occurs.
- poodle image by palms from Fotolia.com