The main function of the endocrine gland is to maintain the secretion of hormones for different organs in the body. One such hormone is the cortisone hormone which is responsible for the carbohydrate and protein metabolism in dogs. When any kind of fluctuation happens in the body that increases the cortisone level, the entire metabolic processes are effected. In such cases, a dog will suffer from various symptoms or disturbances, such as hypertension and/or gastrointestinal type disorders. In medical terms, such a condition is referred as hyperadrenocorticism or more commonly Cushing’s disease. The disease is almost always seen among older dogs that are affected by an endocrine disorder.
One of the most common causes of this imbalance in a dog is a tumor of the pituitary gland or an enlargement of the pituitary gland. The name Cushing is given to this disease because of the increase in cortisone levels within the pituitary gland which result from the tumor. Recent studies have also shown that the disease can be triggered if a dog is given an excessive amount of glucocorticoids, which is most commonly used to treat inflammation or allergies.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs
- Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease:
- Increase in thirst and urination
- Increased appetite abnormally
- Increased panting
- Swelling in abdomen
- Fat deposits on the neck and shoulders
- Losing great amount hair
- Symptoms of insomnia
- Weaken muscles
- Abnormal menstrual period in female docs
- Reduction in size of testicles
- Skin darkening
- Visibility of blackheads on the skin
- Thinning of skin
- Bruising of skin
- White scaly patches on various parts of skin
Causes of Cushing’s Disease
The most common reason of hyperadrenocorticism is a benign pituitary tumor. Usually, if a tumor of the adrenal gland appears, it will be tested to identify whether it’s a benign tumor or a malignant tumor. This identification is done by checking the overall pituitary growth in the glands. Another reason for hyperadrenocorticism in dogs, as mentioned previously, is an excessive dosage of glucocorticoid in the body which generally happens when dogs are given medicines for allergies, inflammation or replacement therapy for low cortisone levels.
Diagnosis of Cushing’s Disease
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, consult your veterinarian immediately. To detect this disease the doctor needs to perform a complete physical exam which includes blood chemical test, blood count and urinalysis. Also you need to give history about your pet’s health and since when you have been noticing such abnormal symptoms. Mainly three tests are done by veterinarian to measure cortisone. They are a urine cortisol creatinine ratio test, adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) stimulation test and low-dose dexamethasone suppression test. These tests will show the percent of increase levels of the adrenocorticotropin hormone in body and the reason behind sudden increase in cortisone is. Once hyperadrenocorticism is detected, further tests will be conducted to see if the imbalance is caused by PDH related tumors or expansion of the pituitary gland. The endogenous ACTH concentration test is done to confirm the presence of an adrenal tumor in your dogs’s body.
Treatment for Cushing’s Disease in Dogs
Mostly dogs with non-spreading adrenal tumors and small carcinomas are treated with surgical process. Medical treatment is given to dogs to stabilize their health after operation. But, in some cases dogs are treated by only giving drugs. It depends on the type of tumor and where it is located. But, the drugs can have serious side effects on their heath, thus they are kept close for few days till their health is stable.
Living and Managing Cushing’s Disease After Treatment
If your dog is diagnosed with Cushing’s and your using a number of medications, you need to make certain that your dog is getting the proper nutrients in their diet needed to fight this disease and to lengthen their life. You also need to be very alert and keep an eye on any kind of abnormality in your dog’s health.
The most common side effects of the most common Cushing’s medications are an overall weakness, laziness, lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty in walking. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s advisable to discontinue the medication(s) and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Your veterinarian will tell you to schedule a follow-up visit in about eight days after the initial treatment to check the overall hormonal balance in your dogs body. Once the oral medication is started, you need to take your dog for a visit every 10 to 14 days. Once the disease is stable, your vet should recommend complete checkups every six months or so.
When a dog is diagnosed with Cushing’s it can be devastating and scary news for the owner = but it doesn’t have to be. If caught in its early stages, the symptoms of Cushing’s disease can be controlled and your dog can continue living a long and healthy life. Remember, a proper diet and even an enhanced nutritional supplement program are just as important as giving your dog the recommended medications.
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