Cushing’s disease is a very common hormonal disease which is seen more in middle aged to older aged dogs. This disease is also known as Hyperadrenocorticism, which is caused by the over-production of the cortisol hormone from the adrenal glands. There are certain breeds of dogs that are more susceptible to this disease than others including dachshunds, boxers, poodles, and beagles. Moreover, this disease can occur equally in males and females. Let’s read onto the article and find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment methods for this hormonal condition that many dogs suffer from.
What Causes Cushing’s Disease?
Cushing’s disease is caused by the chronic overproduction of cortisol from the adrenal glands that are located in the belly above the kidneys. This disease is usually caused by a tumor in the brain where the hormone regulation occurs. Due to the formation of this tiny tumor, the hormone regulation center in the brain sends out abnormal signals to the adrenal glands. These signals cause the glands to stimulate, making them larger in size, which results in the secretion of excessive cortisol into the body.
Another reason for the cause of the Cushing’s disease is the formation of a tumor on the adrenal glands. Although this type of condition occurs less commonly and only 15% of Cushing’s disease cases are caused due to a formation of tumor on the adrenal glands. The tumor on the adrenal glands also has the same effect on the glands as the tumor that forms in the brain. This tumor stimulates the production of cortisol into the body.
Cushing’s disease can also occur in dogs that are being kept on steroids or cortisone tablets for an extended period of time. Due to the release of excessive cortisol into the body, every cell of a dog’s body begins to get affected causing a number of noticeable symptoms.
The Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease
A dog that is affected by this disease will start to show prominent signs which include passing excessive urine, drinking lots of water, and eating a lot of food. The symptoms of Cushing’s disease are very similar to that of diabetes and people might often confuse them with one another. Dogs suffering from Cushing’s disease can suffer from diabetes at the same time.
As the disease progresses, a dog will start to lose hair, especially over the flanks. The skin over the flanks also begins to thin down and muscle wastage is also easily notable. A dog suffering from this disease will have an enlarged liver, which will create a pot-bellied look. Due to the severity of the illness, a dog might easily get tired, resulting in excessive panting.
Diagnosing Cushing’s Disease
Diagnosing Cushing’s disease is not a complicated task. You can get your dog’s blood and urine tested, which will easily show the presence and severity of the disease. Because this is a hormonal condition, it is fairly easy to find out about the hormone count through a test. You can also opt for an ultrasound test which will reveal the enlarged adrenal glands.
A blood test is perfect for diagnosing this disease because it will show the cortisol levels in your dog’s bloodstream. Once the vet is able to diagnose the disease, they will then proceed with further tests that will pin point the exact cause of the disease. Adrenal tumors can also be diagnosed with the help of X-rays.
How to get it Treated?
Cushing’s disease can be treated with the help of medications. However, many times when the adrenal tumors are not spreading and small in size, they can be removed with the help of surgical procedures. Let’s take a look at the different drugs that can help treat Cushing’s disease.
Lysodren is a drug that works on shrinking the size of the adrenal glands, which is a major cause of the secretion of cortisol into the body. The treatment with lysodren often lasts for a week and once the dog is in a stable condition, the medicine needs to be taken once a week. Although Cushing’s disease is treated using lysodren, there are some severe side-effects of the drug. Because this drug contains toxins, it might cause diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy in dogs. In worst cases, the use of this drug can completely damage the adrenal glands and cause Addison’s disease, which is the exact opposite of Cushing’s disease.
Trilostane is a drug that is used for controlling the production of cortisone from the adrenal glands. This drug is one of the most suitable treatment options available for Cushing’s disease. It has very few side-effects and do not cause a lot of problems. However, due to its effectiveness, high doses of this drug can be quite expensive.
What to Expect from the Treatment?
A dog that is diagnosed with Cushing’s disease should be immediately treated. The dogs that receive proper care and medication for the disease can lead a normal and healthy life. This means that the results of the treatment medications are fairly well. However, the dogs that are left untreated can have a hard time living a normal life and are also open to the risk of death.
In order to ensure that your dog has been completely cured, you need to examine it carefully. Take a look at your dog’s fur to see if it has grown back. Observe your dog’s feeding habits to see if it is eating and drinking normally. A dog that has been cured by medication will also gain back its energy and muscle strength.
You can further confirm the success of the treatment by taking your dog to the vet for a physical examination and getting its blood drawn to find out about the cortisone levels in its bloodstream. Your vet will conduct regular tests and checkups of your Personal Protection dog until it has completely recovered from the disease.