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The Cushing's disease; An overview


13th Sep 2021 Animals & Pets

The Cushing's disease; An overview

Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, Cushing's disease is a severe health condition that occurs in dogs due to the overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands.

This disease has been associated with many life-threatening health conditions in dogs, such as kidney damage and diabetes. Cortisol is a hormone-produced by the dogs to respond to stress, for weight control, fight diseases, and balance the sugar levels. However, even with all these benefits, too much of something is mostly poisonous, which is valid for cortisol.

Before a vet offers treatment for Cushing's in dogs, there have to be several tests conducted. However, there are times when this disease becomes tricky to diagnose. This is primarily because most of the symptoms exhibited by a dog suffering from Cushing's are similar to some other conditions. However, this does not mean that you shouldn't let your vet know if you notice something different about your dog.

What are the Symptoms of Cushing's disease in dogs?

This disease is most common among middle-aged dogs as well as their older counterparts. There are not many early signs and symptoms, making it hard to notice it during its early stages.

Below are some of the behaviors to look out for in your dog.

  • When your dog starts getting thirsty more often than usual
  • When the dog gets hungry now and then
  • Frequent urination. For housebroken dogs, you might experience frequent indoor accidents.
  • Potbellies
  • Skin thinning
  • The skin can also get pale
  • The dog becomes inactive or tired
  • Slow hair growth
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal panting
  • Skin disease, irritations, and infections.

There are two different types of Cushing's syndrome. The first one is known as the Pituitary dependent while the other is Adrenal dependent. The pituitary-dependent one is the most common type. It accounts for more than 80% of the total Cushing's disease cases. It is caused by the formation of a tumor in the pituitary gland.

On the other hand, the adrenal-dependent one comes about due to a tumor developing in one of the adrenal glands (located just above the kidney). Even though not very common, this type of disease is just as dangerous as Pituitary-dependent Cushing's syndrome.

Diagnosis and treatment

When it comes to Cushing's syndrome, there is no known method to guarantee you 100% accuracy when diagnosing it. For this reason, the vet will have to perform a series of tests to rule out other diseases and ascertain that your dog has the syndrome. This includes blood tests, urinalysis, and many others. If there are any signs of the disease, follow-up tests (mostly hormonal tests) will follow. This includes ACTH and LDDS tests.

The type of treatment employed will depend on the extent of the condition. For example, if the tumor is on the adrenal glands, the vet might opt for removal through surgery, curing your dog of the problem instantly. On the other hand, medication might be the most suitable option if the tumor has spread to other parts of the body. Some vets even offer herbal treatment options as a natural way of dealing with the disease.

In addition to medication, you can use natural therapies such as feeding your dog a high-digestible protein diet to prevent muscle wasting and a low-fat diet to prevent high cholesterol and pancreatitis. As well as providing them with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Other therapies include herbs, natural supplements, homeopathy, and acupuncture.


The good thing about this problem is that it is treatable. Additionally, your dog will lead an active, healthy life even when under medication or other holistic treatments. However, the sooner the diagnosis is made, the better for you and your pet.

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