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Optic Nerve Hypoplasia in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

You may be wondering…

“What in the world is optic nerve hypoplasia”

And you would be rightfully asking because very little is known about this disease.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet decided that we would take a moment and discuss exactly what optic nerve hypoplasia is so that if you’ve recently been told by your veterinarian that your dog has it, you might have a better understanding of what that means and what you as his or her owner can do to improve their quality of life.

So, without further ado, let’s get right into this.

Optic Nerve Hypoplasia defined.

Optic nerve hypoplasia is a rare congenital condition in which a puppy or kitten is born with a shortened optic nerve.  This in turn then makes the optic disk look smaller because there simply aren’t enough neuron connection points coming in from the “smaller” optic nerve.

And while…

This is a relatively rare disease, it should be noted that it is the most common “type” of optic never deformity which can affect your dog or cat.  It should also be pointed out that having an “issue” with your optic nerve is a really big deal because it is your optic never that allows information to be transmitted from your eyes to your brain!

And when…

It is shortened it can cause very severe defects to your dog’s eyes like reduced vision or blindness in one or both eyes.

Amazingly though…

Not all animals that suffer from optic never hypoplasia will exhibit any signs or symptoms of the disease.  Which is why it’s quite possible that you may currently own a dog or cat or may have owned on in the past with this condition and never even knew it!

Unfortunately, though…

Those animals that do experience symptoms usually experience significant symptoms that can definitely affect their quality of life.  Symptoms such as:

  • Deformed eyes,
  • Issues with the retinal vasculature,
  • Glaucoma,
  • And other vision complications.

The dog breeds that may be most susceptible are Poodles and Collies.


When it comes to cats being affected with this disease, there does seem to be a direct link between panleukopenia AKA feline distemper and optic nerve hypoplasia in that it appears like feline distemper can increase a cat’s risk of having kittens with optic nerve hypoplasia.

Behavioral symptoms of optic nerve hypoplasia

Your biggest clue that your dog or cat is suffering from this condition will be that he or she is having difficulty seeing.  Which will be evident when you see your pet:

  • Running into things,
  • Tripping,
  • Not being able to catch items well,
  • Not being able to see you from certain locations relative to themselves,
  • And a hesitation in their movement almost like they are nervous.

Now if you see…

These symptoms, it’s probably best not to just immediately think that your pet is suffering from optic nerve hypoplasia.  After all, there are a lot of things that could cause your pet to exhibit these same symptoms.

Diagnosis of optic nerve hypoplasia

Typically, the first thing that your vet will want to do is check for your dog’s reaction to a light being shone in their face, this will provide them a lot of information about you your pet’s eyes react to light.

Then they might…

Choose to perform a fundoscopic examination of the back your pet’s eye using a lens.  During this exam, what your vet is looking for is if your pets optic disk looks smaller than it should be in order to make a definitive diagnosis of optic nerve hypoplasia.

The bad news is…

There is no treatment or cure for this disease, but that does come with the upside that it is a very inexpensive disease to have.  This is because, it should cost much to diagnosis and you really can’t do much to treat it.

But just because…

There isn’t a “cure” for this condition, it’s important to make sure that you do have a veterinarian confirm the diagnosis so that you can be sure that your dog isn’t suffering some other “type” of eye condition which could worsen or could be treated and improved.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have optic nerve hypoplasia (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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