Dogs with Cushing’s syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome occurs in dogs when their body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol, which helps them respond to stress, control their weight, fight infections, and keep blood sugar levels in check, but too much or too little can cause problems.
Cushing’s, also known as “hypercortisolism and hyperadrenocorticism,” can be difficult for a vet to diagnose, because he has the same symptoms as other conditions.
The key is to let your vet know anything different about your pet.
Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs
The condition mostly affects middle-aged and older dogs, and the warning signs can be difficult to spot at first.
Your dog may notice:
- Thirst than usual
- looks hungrier
- pee often
- lose hair
- Seems slow to grow
- He has thinning skin
- He looks very tired and inactive
- occurrence of skin infections
There are two main types that affect dogs:
- Pituitary: This form is the most common, affecting about 80% to 90% of animals with Cushing’s.
It occurs when there is a tumor in a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, called the pituitary gland.
- Adrenal gland: This type of tumor is based on one of the glands that sit above the kidneys, called the adrenal glands, and about 15% of dogs diagnosed will have this type.
Another type, called iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome, occurs after a dog has taken steroids for a long time.
Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs:
There is no 100% accurate way to diagnose Cushing’s, so your vet will run some tests to find out what might be causing your pet’s symptoms and rule out other health issues.
Your vet will start by testing your dog’s blood and urination. These tests can detect diluted urine, urinary tract infections, or problems with a group of enzymes found in the liver and bones called alkaline phosphatase.
If the results show signs of the condition, your vet will follow up with hormone screening tests, such as: “ACTH stimulation test, dexamethasone suppression test (LDDS), blood samples.”
If it looks like your puppy may have Cushing’s, your vet may want to do an ultrasound of his abdomen, as it helps him see if there is a tumor in his adrenal glands, and this can affect the type of treatment he needs.
Treatment of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs:
If Cushing’s syndrome is caused by a tumor in your pet’s adrenal glands, your vet may be able to remove it with surgery, which can treat it from the problem.
But if the tumor has spread to other parts of his body or he has other health problems, surgery may not be an option.
Usually, a dog can live an active, normal life with medication to treat the condition, although he will need it for the rest of his life.
Medications are best for dogs with Cushing’s syndrome caused by the pituitary gland or for those who have a tumor in the adrenal gland that cannot be removed by surgery.
The most common medications are trilostane (Vytoril), and mitotane (Lysodrin) is an older drug that vets don’t prescribe anymore because it causes many side effects, but it can cost less.
The most important thing you can do is follow your dog’s treatment plan, closely monitor his behavior and symptoms, and give him the right doses of medication at the right times. You and your vet can work together to help him live a happy and healthy life.
The puppy will also need regular check-ups and blood tests to ensure that his treatment is successful.