What is Canine Cushing’s Disease?

One of the more common hormonal disorders of middle age and older dogs is an adrenal gland condition known as Cushing’s disease, which causes an over product of adrenal gland hormones leading to many potential uncomfortable symptoms.  The most common signs of Cushing’s disease include:

  • Increased thirst/urination and appetite
  • Development of weight gain and  pendulous abdomen
  • Increased panting
  • Symmetrical hair loss along the back
  • Changes in skin pigment and the development of thin skin
  • Recurrent skin and/or urinary infections may be seen
  • Secondary high blood pressure
  • And in some cases diabetes

Canine Cushing's Disease is in many cases over diagnosed since some vets may use lab-only tests instead of clinical symptoms as a method of diagnosing

Rare complications include heart disease and blood clots.  The most common form of Cushing’s disease is due to a small tumor of the pituitary gland in the brain, but in up to 20 percent of cases an adrenal tumor may be the cause. Diagnosis of Cushing’s disease can be difficult and tricky, but is usually made through the important presence of clinical signs, as well as through the judicious use of blood tests and abdominal ultrasound.

I have often found that many veterinarians over diagnose this disease based on laboratory tests only, rather than the all-important clinical signs being present.  This is especially important as the common drugs used to treat this disease  i.e Lysodren and Trilostane (Vetoryl) are very powerful chemicals that can have serious side effects in many pets.

Before these drugs are started an animal guardian needs to question their veterinarian on the certainty of the diagnosis, as well as perhaps confirming the diagnosis through as many tests as possible, including ultrasound and blood tests that correlate with the pet’s clinical symptoms and history.

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  1. Pingback: Pancreatitis in Dogs | PetMeds.org

  2. Wow, marvelous weblog format! How long have you ever been running a blog for?
    you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is
    wonderful, let alone the content!

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you so much for you compliments. WE have been blogging for a few years now.

  4. Our Cavalier King Charles is being put through lots of test, the next on the list is blood workup for Cushings Disease. We really can’t afford $90 a month in meds & more for more tests. We would like to pursue a holistic, homeopathic treatment path. HOW do we know where to begin? What really is the safest and reliable course to pursue without breaking the bank. We love her, but what we are looking at sadly isn’t in the cards for us. I am also worried about her normal treatments, shots, heart worm meds etc effecting the disease? Help?

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 6, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I certainly would encourage and welcome a holistic/homeopathic approach for a case like this, however holistic health does take time and patience, especially in sweet breed like this so prone to chronic illness and disease. I would consult with holistic vet more on the issues of shots, etc affecting her overall health. To learn more about homeopathy see the booklet on the website http://www.beyondflatearth.com as well as you can go to my website http://www.doctordym.com Many homeopathic vets like myself do offer phone consultations. Initial fee is usually a few hundred dollars, and then periodic followups are done every several weeks initially until progress is sustained. Followups may run 50 to $75.00….

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