Tibetan Spaniel - Health Concerns
Some of the health issues which may be of concern for the Tibetan Spaniel include:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) / Progressive Retinal Degeneration (PRD)
PRA is an inherited form of blindness found in dogs. It can occur as either generalized PRA or central PRA. The form found in Tibetan Spaniels is Generalized PRA which is primarily a photoreceptor disease.
Clinical signs in the Tibetan Spaniel have been observed to be between the ages of 1½ and 4 years, but as late as 7 years. In the early stages of the disease, an affected dog becomes nightblind and cannot see well in dim lighting. As the disease progresses, daytime vision also fails progressively into complete blindness.
PRA is a hereditary condition and if you suspect your dog's sight is failing, he should be examined by a Veterinarian who specializes in Opthamology. Even though the dog will become completely blind, the condition is painless and provided that the affected dog's environment remains constant, a dog can adapt quite well to this handicap.
PRA is inherited as a autosomal recessive gene. The dog must inherit this gene from both parents. If the gene is only from one parent, the dog will not be affected but he/she will be known as a carrier as the gene can be passed on to his/her progeny. All breeding dogs should be examined annually by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Most responsible breeders will register with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) and receive a CERF number for their dog. If you are adopting a puppy, ensure that the breeder provides you with copies of certifications for both the sire and dam.
This is a problem with vague symptoms which can result from a number of different causes. Some tearing in Tibetan Spaniels is a natural occurence. The facial hair and fullness, and the shape of the eyelids may push the hair against the eyes, irritate them and then cause tearing. In most cases, the only consequence is cosmetic; however, if you are concerned, consult your Veterinarian.
Cherry Eye is a prolapsed third eyelid. The eyelid becomes "loose" allowing one of the tear glands to protrude. The condition needs to be treated by a Veterinarian by "tacking" it back into place. The longer the gland sits in an abnormal position, the greater the risk that the gland will not be fully functional when it is tacked back.
Like many other breeds, the Tibetan Spaniel is susceptible to allergies. Symptoms of allergies are similar to those found in human allergies, such as watery eyes and scratching. The number one allergic reaction among all dogs is to fleas (not the bite, but the flea saliva itself).
Additional information on these and other health issues can be found in the Health and Nutrition section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.
- Canine Eye Registration Foundation
- Canine Inherited Disorders Database
- Blind Dog and Canine Vision Resources - Extensive information on eye disease and blindness in dogs
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy Written by Dr. Dennis Hacker, Edited by Dr. Michael Zigler
Note: This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.