The most common eye diseases that dachshunds can suffer from are inherited. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and corneal dystrophy cause discomfort, pain, and even blindness. Prompt veterinary care is necessary for the best outcome in all eye diseases.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
The dachshund can inherit generalized PRA, which is the progressive degeneration of the retina. The degeneration of the retina usually begins in dachshunds over 12 months old. Symptoms of this irreversible and untreatable vision loss are often difficult to detect because the dachshund adapts so well with its other senses, particularly hearing and smell.
Dachshunds that have been tested for PRA and are clear of disease can be certified by and registered with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). (Breeders may refer to their PRA-free dogs as being “CERFed.”) Dogs intended to be bred should be certified free of disease annually.
Dachshunds with double dapple coats are most susceptible to missing eyes or recessed, abnormally small eyes, an inherited condition called microphthalmia. It seems that double dapple dachshunds with excessive white are especially prone to this condition.
Cataracts appear as areas of cloudiness in the lens of the eye. If the cataract covers the entire lens, the dog becomes blind. The form of cataracts that dachshunds suffer from is inherited, and it usually appears before the dog reaches the age of two. However, cataracts may also develop in the dachshund as a result of trauma to the eye or in conjunction with PRA. Vision loss tends to be significant, but the dog may not go totally blind. In some cases, surgical removal of the cataracts is necessary.
Dachshunds are one of five breeds demonstrated to have a significant predisposition to a specific form of the eye disease known as corneal dystrophy, which causes the formation of water blisters on the eye. These blisters can burst and cause painful corneal ulcers. The dog also suffers from poor vision when the cornea is inflamed. Symptoms include tearing from the eye, pawing, and squinting. Treatments include medication and, in severe cases, surgery.