Cushing’s syndrome occurs when your dog’s body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol. This chemical helps them to respond to stress, control their weight, fight infections, and keep their blood sugar levels under control. But too much or too little can cause problems.
Cushing’s, also known as hypercortisolism and hyperadrenocorticism, can be tricky to find a veterinarian because it has the same symptoms as other conditions. It is important to inform your veterinarian about anything different about your pet.
In some cases, surgery may cure the problem. If your pup cannot be operated on, they can take medication to control their cortisol levels.
This condition mainly affects middle-aged and older dogs, and warning signs can be difficult to detect at first.
You can spot these signs in your dog:
It is much drier than usual
It looks hungry
Pees often; indoor dogs can have domestic accidents.
She loses her hair or seems slow to grow
You get a pot stomach
It has thinning skin
She looks very tired and does nothing
You get skin diseases
Types of Cushing’s Syndrome
Many animals can get this condition. People can get it too.
There are two major types of the syndrome in dogs
Pituitary dependence. This form is very common, affecting about 80% to 90% of animals with Cushing’s. It occurs when there is a tumor in the pea-sized part below the brain, called the pituitary.
Adrenal dependent. This type comes from a tumor in one of the glands that live on the kidneys, called the adrenal gland. About 15% of dogs found will have this breed.
Another type, called iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome, occurs after a dog has been taking steroids for a long time.
Identifying Your Dog
There is no 100% accurate way to diagnose Cushing’s. So a veterinarian will do a few tests to see what can cause your pet’s symptoms and control other health problems.
Your veterinarian will first check your dog’s blood and peeir pee. These tests can detect diluted urine, urinary tract infections, or problems with a group of enzymes that are more commonly found in the liver and bones called alkaline phosphatase. All of this is common in animals with Cushing’s. If the results show signs of this condition, your vet will follow a hormonal test, such as:
ACTH stimulation test. It measures how well the adrenal glands work in response to a hormone called ACTH that normally causes them to produce cortisol. The veterinarian will take blood samples before and after your dog is shot by ACTH to see how the hormone has affected them.
A low dose of dexamethasone suppression (LDDS) looks at how your dog’s body works with a man-made version of cortisol, called dexamethasone. Blood samples before and after hormone replacement help the veterinarian to see what is happening.
If it appears that your pup may have Cushing’s, your vet may want to undergo an ultrasound scan of his abdomen. These imaging tests will help them determine if there is a tumor in the adrenal glands. That may affect the type of treatment they need.
If Cushing’s syndrome develops a tumor on your animal’s adrenal glands, a veterinarian can remove it with surgery, which will cure the problem. However, if the tumor has spread to other parts of their body or they have other health problems, surgery may not be an option.
Usually, a dog can live an active, normal life with medication to treat the condition, even though it will require them for the rest of their lives. The drug is best for dogs with Cushing’s syndrome caused by the pituitary gland or for those with a tumor in their adrenal gland that cannot be surgically removed.
The most common drug is trilostane (Vetoryl). Mitotane (Lysodren) is an old drug that doctors don’t give much. It causes many side effects, but it can be less expensive. Your student will need regular checkups and blood tests to make sure their treatment is working.
If your pet has iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome, the veterinarian may try to gradually stop giving us steroids. But the original condition they were in will probably return.
The most important thing you can do is follow your dog’s treatment plan. Keep a close eye on their behavior and symptoms, and give them appropriate dosages at the right times. You and your veterinarian can work together to help them live happy and healthy life.