Some Important Facts a SARDS Canine Owner Should Know

Posted on December 14th, 2016

SARDS is an autoimmune disease of the retinal tissue causing blindness, which may include many other unhappy clinical conditions.

It is definitely a treatable disease that needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, in order to help stop further destruction of the canine retinal tissue.

It is caused by the development and production of a deficient or defective cortisol from the middle layer adrenal cortex.

When this cortisol imbalance occurs, the negative feedback mechanism to the hypothalamic-pituitary axis is damaged and the middle layer adrenal cortex can no longer fund this negative feedback mechanism to this hypothalamic-pituitary axis.

When this happens, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands will continue to produce their hormones, Cortico-Releasing Factor (CRF) and Adrenocorticotropic Hormone

(ACTH). The inner layer adrenal cortex will respond, by producing excess amounts of adrenal estrogen.

The excess adrenal estrogen will cause the following;

It will make T3 and T4 unavailable for use in the body. This will cause a metabolic hypothyroidism, which may be misleading because both T3 and T4 levels may be normal, but cannot be used by the canine body.

However, as a note, the majority of SARDS canines will have low levels of T3 and T4.

The excess adrenal estrogen will cause inflammation of the endothelial cells that line all the arteries in the body of the SARDS canine.

This same effect has been noted in humans and I wonder if this same estrogenic inflammation might be part of the cause for humans developing Alzheimer’s Syndrome and possibly coronary arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis.

The excess estrogen will also deregulate the immune system and cause the immune cells to stop their protection for the SARDS canine, and will also allow the immune cells to lose recognition of self tissue. This is probably why the deregulated immune cells will lose recognition of retinal tissue and cause its destruction.

I have found this same elevated adrenal estrogen involved with other autoimmune diseases, including cancer. This also seems to be the same in human patients.

When the one immune cell, called a B-lymphocyte reduces its production of antibody due to the elevated adrenal estrogen, the mucous membrane antibody referred to as IgA is below 58 mg/dL; malabsorption will occur, especially with steroids.

This is why injections of a steroid are suggested, in order to supply an active cortisol replacement, which will fund the negative feedback mechanism to the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, reduce the adrenal estrogen and allow the B-lymphocyte to produce increased amounts of IgA, which then will allow for absorption of oral steroids.

Injections of Depomedrol will last 12 to 14 days. Injections of Vetalog, Kenalog or Triamcinolone will last for 7 days.

When the IgA has reached 58 or higher, an oral, daily steroid can be used. Medrol or its generic Methylprednisolone seem to have worked the best for me.

Daily Prednisolone may also be used, but I do not advise using Prednisone because it must be converted in the liver to Prednisolone.

Since there is fear that a steroid may cause liver damage, it might be best to avoid using Prednisone.

It is interesting thinking about a thyroid supplement. Often only a T4 value is asked for with a standard blood test. There seems to be no recognition that an elevated T4 is only a storage thyroid hormone. T3 is the active thyroid hormone.

Also it is not recognized that it takes active cortisol to transfer T4 into T3, so the next time you have a general blood test done on your canine, ask that a T3 and T4 are

ALWAYS measured.

The following are the typical results to expect, if your canine has SARDS, autoimmunity or cancer:

  • A deficient cortisol. However, please remember the cortisol value can be normal or elevated, but if the adrenal estrogen is elevated, it will determine that the cortisol is either bound or defective.
  • An elevated total estrogen
  • The T3 and T4 are usually deficient, unless there is a cortisol, estrogen imbalance.
  • All the immunoglobulin’s (antibodies) will be deficient and depending on how far below 58 mg/dL the IgA is, will determine how many injections of steroids will be needed to reach 58 mg/dL

The following are the normal test values:

  • Cortisol = 1 to 2.5 ug/dL
  • Total estrogen, Male = 24.5 to 25 pg/ml  Female = 34.5 to 35 pg/dL
  • T3 = 100 to 200 ng/dL
  • T4 = 2.0 to 4.5 ng/dL
  • IgA = 70 to 170 ng/dL
  • IgM = 100 to 200 ng/dl
  • IgG = 1000 to 2000 ng/dL

At the time of the last injection another endocrine immune blood panel should be performed, to make sure the IgA has reached 58 mg/dL.

If it has reached 58 mg/dL, an oral steroid can be started 10 days after the last injection. Normally after two weeks of taking oral steroids, a final endocrine immune panel can be done to determine if any further hormonal modifications, need to be done.

At this point in time the only veterinary laboratory performing my endocrine immune tests, including total estrogen, is National Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories

The owner of the laboratory has been working with me for several years doing these endocrine immune tests.

He has also completed well over 29,000 of these blood tests in canines, felines and equines. If you are interested, he can be e-mailed at

NOTE: I have been involved with MD’s doing my endocrine immune blood test in 2,000 human patients with autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Hopefully my thoughts will be of value for you and your SARDS canine.


Dr. AL Plechner