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    Duncan’s Story

This SARD dog regained vision after prompt treatment to correct adrenal exhaustion. (98% of SARD-affected dogs test positive for adrenal exhaustion.) Treatment was started one month after vision loss. At that time Duncan, a 7-year-old Spaniel-mix, had a voracious appetite, was lethargic, confused, and withdrawn. Below are the lab results, the treatment, and description of the dog’s outcome.

– Caroline Levin


Dexamethasone sodium phosphate 1.57 mg IM single dose
Triamcinilone acetate (Kenalog) 0.157 mg IM single dose
Methylprednisolone (Medrol) 2mg PO SID am
Soloxine 0.3mg PO BID
Sulfasalazine 250mg PO BID
Cell advance 880 1 tablet SID
Homecooked, grain-free diet with sardines twice weekly (a dietary source of adenosine, a neuroprotective amino acid)

Endocrine & Immune panel results before and after 3 months of treatment:

Initial Follow-up Normal range
Total estrogen 25.19 25.06 20.00-25.00 pg/ml (males)
Cortisol 2.04 1.89 1.00-2.50 ug/dL
T3 57.88 87.94 100.00-200.00 ng/dL
T4 1.78 2.09 2.00-4.50 ug/dL
IgA 57 66 70-170 mg/dL
IgG 1,184 1,205 1,000-2,000 mg/dL
IgM 96 103 100-200 mg/dL

For a discussion of the seemingly illogical cortisol activity please see: LINK.

Just before the second set of lab results came in, I wrote Ellen to ask her how Duncan was feeling. What a pleasant report she gave me! Below is that correspondence:

Dear Caroline,

duncanI have been meaning to write you. I had Duncan in to the vet for blood work on January 8th. During the exam my vet noticed that Duncan appeared to be watching the small flat-screen TV in the exam room. She stopped talking and went and got a cotton ball. He watched her arm rise up as she prepared to drop it, but then he hopped off the bench, ducked under my other dog, and went to the door because he heard a cat in the next room. He was so intent on that cat that we just couldn’t test his vision any further that day.

Here at home, I observed him weave through a real life obstacle course today. We are doing some remodeling and we had to walk through boxes and debris. He went first and I observed him doing it perfectly.

On walks, he will weave around obstacle in his path as long as its daylight. If it’s dark, he is more likely to bump into things, but overall, he seems to have returned to “functional-but impaired vision” that he had when he was diagnosed this summer.

My vet was impressed…the vet and tech’s at our shelter are impressed…and I am thrilled. If you like, I will video him here at home. I am curious to see the lab work, but from a purely symptomatic point of view he is doing awesome.


Dear Ellen,
So would I be correct in assuming that your vet confirms that Duncan has some functional vision? Did the TV in the exam room have the sound turned off?

Dear Caroline,

I would say my vet was stunned. Duncan was sitting on the bench next to me, while she was across from me talking. She stopped mid-sentence to stare at him while he was intently watching the TV on the wall. There is no sound on this TV, just animal care-type messages that sit on the screen for a bit and then change.

This is weird too…he now looks me in the eye. For a bit of time, he was so clearly blind as he would look in my general direction but not ever at my face. But the biggest thing for me is that he clearly feels better. Everyone remarked about that over the Christmas holiday. He looks like he feels well…after being so miserable, exhausted, and disinterested in everything this summer. And his appetite is normal not overly voracious like it was during the summer. I could have handled the blindness, but couldn’t handle how his quality of life was just gone for him. Now its back!!!!! Thank you so much!


Note: In a follow-up phone call, Duncan’s veterinarian, Jennifer McLaughlin DVM (Avery Animal Hospital) confirmed functional vision. To date, over 20% of SARD dogs have regained some degree of functional vision when treated for adrenal exhaustion and protective retinal therapies. Please have your SARD dog tested and treated promptly. This treatment protocol is available in “Living with Blind Dogs” or via download.