Cushing’s Disease: Symptoms and Pet meds for Treatment

One of the more common hormonal diseases of middle age and older dogs is overactive adrenal glands producing too much cortisol and other hormones known as Cushing’s disease.  This is usually due to either a microtumor of the pituitary gland or a tumor of one of the adrenal glands. Some pets with Cushing's disease can be susceptible to secondary disease including diabetes and urinary tract infections

Symptoms of Cushing’s disease include:

  • Excessive thirst and/or appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Distended abdomen
  • Hair loss
  • Thin skin
  • Secondary skin or ear infections

With Cushing’s disease some pets are at risk for secondary diabetes as well as secondary urinary infections, high blood pressure, and occasional secondary cardiac disease. Once it is diagnosed, treatment usually involves medication to control the symptoms, usually either Lysodren or trilostane (Vetoryl).

Once the diagnosis is made, it is important for pet owners to give all prescribed medication, as this condition is not curable.  In addition, it’s important to monitor for side effects of the drugs, which may include loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, or weakness/collapse if medication dosage is too high. Regular monitoring of your pet’s hormonal levels (by special kind of testing known as an ACTH stim test) is important – at least every 3-6 months in order to properly control this disease and detect potential problems early from the drug therapies.

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  1. My dog has Addisons Disease. She recently has suffered immense stress in the loss of our other dog.She was walking in circles, restless, couldn’t sleep, seemed completely “out of it”. My vet prescribed Selegiline which in my research is used for Cushing Disease – the direct opposite of Addisons. Is it safe for my Addisonian dog to be taking Selegiline?

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 13, 2013 at 1:30 am

    I have no experience using selegiline in dogs with Addisons. I would rather have you use natural supplements like senior blend from as well as glucamune from the company Rx vitamins.

  3. my 13 year old Jack Russell has today been diagnosed with Cushing’s disease after blood & scan tests to be 100% sure. I have recently lost three of my pets to old age all being 13 years old. Drummer my jack Russell eats a raw diet but sadly had allergies for many years and the vets here kept putting him on preds/cortisone but never got to the bottom of his allergies. I now am not sure which drug he should go on and the vets aren’t giving me much to go on keep telling me to wait! He has not had any cortisone for three years been on raw diet & veg for three years doesn’t scratch anymore & now Cushing’s what would you recommend as the safest drug and or would a homeopathic route be better Many thanks & Drummer will be 13 in April 2014

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 11, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I usually prefer a more holistic approach in pets this age, but would have to evaluate all of his blood work, etc for specific recommendations. To learn more about homeopathy to go as well as my website Many homeopathic vets like myself do offer phone consultations.

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