Cushing’s disease is becoming quite common in older dogs. The disease often makes the dog display symptoms which leads the veterinary doctor to unintentionally misdiagnose the disease. A wrong diagnosis, which happens quite frequently, can even claim the life of the dog and make it harder for him or her to survive. Hence, it is vital to diagnose the symptoms properly and report the right symptoms to your vet for accurate and prompt treatment. Since increased thirst and urination rates appear as preliminary symptoms of this disease, owners and vets often misinterpret the symptoms to various kidney diseases. Below you’ll find some common diagnosis techniques used by vets to diagnose Cushing’s disease in dogs.
Testing for Cushing’s Disease in Dogs:
Blood test is often used as a preliminary test to identify the abnormal urination concentration and to detect the blood sugar levels, alkaline phosphate levels and creatinine levels in the blood. Dogs suffering from Cushing’s disease display a high levels of alkaline phosphate in the blood
(ALKP and ALP). Creatinine and blood sugar levels usually remain normal, which in turn are checked to nullify the probability of blood sugar raising the frequency of urination and creatinine levels raising thirst. Cholesterol and liver enzyme levels usually remain high in a dog suffering from this disease.
Veterinary doctors often run x-rays on dogs who display other probable symptoms of Cushing’s disease. An x-ray reveals the reason for the abnormal pot-bellied appearance of the dog. An enlarged liver which results in the pot bellied appearance often also reveals calcium deposits in areas like skin, adrenal glands and kidneys.
ACTH Stimulation Test
Though ACTH Stimulation Test is now-a-days generally avoided by veterinary doctors for the expensive and time consuming nature of the test, it once used to be the most commonly used test for detecting Cushing’s disease in dogs. In this test, the vet injects a synthetic ACTH (Cortosyn and Cosyntropin) into the dog’s body to check whether the adrenal glands respond. Dogs with Cushing’s disease are often seen producing an excessive amount of cortisol, which is much higher than the normal levels of cortisol produced due to ACTH.
UC:Cr test is conducted to determine the urine cortisol to creatinine ratio levels. This is one of the most recommended tests due to its effectiveness and also due to the fact that it is cheaper than other tests. Dogs with abnormally high UC:Cr levels are subjected to other test to confirm the presence of Cushing’s disease.
LDDS test is considered to be the most accurate test for determining the presence of Cushing’s disease in dogs. However, this test is normally preferred wherein the vet detects adrenal Cushing’s. This test is conducted in the hospital and your dogs needs to stay in for 8 hours, as in this test the level of blood cortisol is measured. In this test, a synthetic cortisol like hormone called dexamethasone is injected into the pet’s body. The body then mistakes the dexamethasone for natural cortisol, which in turn stops the production of cortisol. As a result, the blood cortisol levels drop after 4 hours in normal dogs. However in dogs with adrenal tumors, the process of cortisol generation doesn’t stops, which maintains the normal or sometimes excessive blood cortisol level in blood.
In closing, if you suspect that your dog might be showing some of the signs of Cushing’s disease it is extremely important to get a diagnosis. Dogs that are able to start a treatment program such as Cushalin, have a much greater chance of living a full and healthy life than those that are not on a specific program. If you have any questions about our product and want to know how it can help your dog fight this disease please feel free to contact us as soon as possible. Time, is extremely important when you dog is suffering from this disease.