It's unfortunate that many breeds of dogs suffer from a variety of genetic problems due to the poor decisions of some uninformed or careless breeders. Before bringing home a canine addition to your family, you should do some research into how healthy the breed is; if not, you may be in for a surprisingly large number of visits to the vet and some serious heartbreak. The Redbone Coonhound, fortunately, is an extremely healthy breed, which suffers only rarely from less than a handful of genetic issues. Besides hip dysplasia, common in many dogs, the Redbone tends to suffer from two main eye problems: entropion and progressive retinal atrophy, also known as PRA.
Entropion is an eye problem that occurs in many breeds of dogs, including Redbones, though is not as common in Redbones as it is in breeds such as Bloodhounds or Mastiffs. The condition is characterized by the eyelids folding inward, causing the dog quite a substantial amount of discomfort and pain especially due to eyelashes or hairs rubbing against the cornea; the cornea may develop ulcers and/or erosions. More often than not, entropion is inherited and may show up at birth; often, it shows up by six months of age. There may be other factors, however, that could lead to entropion, such as infection, inflammation or nerve damage. Either the lower or upper eyelid can be the cause of the condition, which can occur in either eye or in both simultaneously. A dog that has entropion may present with pain and redness in the area of the eye, skin that sags around the eye, sensitivity to things like wind and light, vision problems, and copious tearing. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as you suspect eye problems is critical; surgery to remove the excess skin that has folded inward can avoid permanent damage to the cornea.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), instead, affects structures that are deeper within the eye, such as the retina and the cells that it is composed of; essentially, the retinal cells either do not develop properly or degenerate after they develop. It is an inherited disorder, and there are actually many subtypes of the disease. If you suspect signs of PRA, you should bring your dog immediately to a veterinarian, who will most likely refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist, or a vet specialized in dog eyes. Your dog will undergo an ophthalmic exam and possibly an electroretinography to determine the health of his eyes. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for PRA; any dog diagnosed with the disease will eventually go blind. Some organizations recommend oral antioxidant therapy to delay retinal deterioration and complete blindness; no clear study has been done to show the effects of oral antioxidant therapy on dogs suffering from PRA, though, so not all vets recommend this therapy.