Advanced Animal Care

cushing's disease in dogsHormone problems in older dogs, like Hypothyroidism, diabetes and Cushing’s Disease are three of the most common endocrine system disorders your veterinarian will treat.  Of the three, Cushing’s Disease is the most complicated.  It occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands produce too much cortisol or cortisone (corticosteroids).

Causes of Cushing’s disease

Although Cushing's disease can occur from too much corticosteriods, 85% of all Cushing’s disease in dogs is caused by tumors, not located in the adrenal glands but in the pituitary gland.  This form is called pituitary dependent Cushing’s.  The other 15% is caused by tumors in the adrenal glands themselves and is called adrenal dependent Cushing’s.  Most of the time these tumors are benign.  A small percentage can be malignant and will metastasize throughout the body.

Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease

Symptoms for Cushing’s Disease in dogs involve many body systems and varies from pet to pet.  The most common signs are urinary and skin conditions.  You will normally start to notice symptoms over a period of time.  Often dogs brought into the veterinary office will be brought in because they are peeing and drinking too  much.  Sometimes because the immune system is lacking, infections will occur requiring frequent visits to the vet.  Other symptoms include increase hunger, urination, thirst, a pot-bellied abdomen, obesity, fat around the neck and shoulders, loss of hair, loss of energy, skin discoloration, thin skin and bruising.

Diagnostic Tests

Besides a full exam, your veterinarian will perform several lab tests before diagnosing Cushing’s disease.  Once it is fairly certain Cushing’s is causing the symptoms, more test will be needed to determine the cause, extent and treatment of the disease.  Sometimes an ultrasound or x-ray’s will be needed.

Treatment For Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Some tumors and small carcinomas can be taken care of surgically.  Drugs will be prescribed to stabilize the hormones.  Your veterinarian will be able to tell you the exact course of treatment, any drug cautions and how to proceed after the diagnosis.

Your veterinary hospital can help you anytime you notice changes in your dog.  Dogs age much faster than humans so it is important to provide routine examinations for your pet and to bring them in when you notice changes in their routine so that they can receive proper care.  If you have any questions or need to see our veterinarian, call Advanced Animal Care Today and they will be more than happy to assist you.