Canine Cushing’s Disease

Canine Cushing’s disease is commonly referred to as hyperadrenocorticism. It occurs whenever the body starts producing too much of a hormone known as glucocorticoid. Glucocorticoid is necessary for various bodily systems to function properly. However, too much of its presence in the body can cause harmful side effects.

Canine Cushings Disease

The adrenal gland is responsible for secreting this hormone. If something goes wrong with it, then it may start producing too much. In order for the adrenal gland to produce the hormone though, it needs to be stimulated to do so by another hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.

Therefore, Cushing’s disease in dogs can also occur if there is a problem with this gland. Tumors on either gland will result in the condition. Canine Cushing’s disease typically affects older dogs. This is the reason why many homeowners dismiss their dog’s symptoms as being caused by old age.

Dogs with this condition will exhibit symptoms such as increased drinking and urination, hair loss, and increased appetite. They will also gain weight and take on a bloated appearance. Other common signs include lethargy and general weakness especially in the hind legs.

Cushing’s disease in dogs can’t be diagnosed using a single test, so a combination of tests will need to be conducted. The vet will suspect the disease if your dog displays many of the symptoms mentioned above. A urinalysis will show diluted urine and excessive amounts of protein. The liver may also become enlarged which can be detected via an ultrasound or x-ray.

Treatment of canine Cushing’s disease depends on the underlying cause as well as the health of your dog. As mentioned, many patients are older and may not be able to be treated aggressively. Tumors affected the adrenal gland can be removed surgically. Anesthesia is very risky for elderly dogs.

If the pituitary gland is affected, then surgery usually won’t be an option. Instead, chemotherapy will be used in an attempt to reduce the size of the tumor. Radiation is another alternative.

It is best that Cushing’s disease in dogs be treated. If it isn’t, your dog will suffer from various infections because the immune system will become suppressed as the condition progresses. Dogs with Cushing’s can easily develop conditions such as diabetes, pancreatitis, hypothyroidism, kidney failure, and liver failure.

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