July 26, 2022
A disease that we are seeing more often in our patients at Rowan is one called Cushing’s Disease. This disease is life threatening and is caused by the growth of either a benign or malignant tumour on the pituitary gland (and more rarely on the adrenal gland on the kidney), causing an increase in the production of cortisol (steroid). Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps regulate proper body weight, tissue structure, skin condition and other features of good health.
Cushing’s disease is mainly a disease that affects dogs. It typically occurs in middle-aged to older dogs and can develop slowly so the early signs are not always noticed. It’s very rare in cats but the symptoms are the same.
There are several signs and symptoms owners can observe that might indicate your dog is suffering from Cushing’s disease:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Increased appetite
- Thinning or fragile skin
- Excessive panting
- Hair loss
- Enlargement of the abdomen, having a “potbellied” appearance
The signs, and how obvious they are, may vary depending on the amounts of cortisone being released into the body.
Although diagnosis can be difficult, there are a range of tests available to detect Cushing’s disease. Once a diagnosis has been made, it’s important for treatment to begin quickly to control the amount of cortisol in your dog’s system and avoid damage to other organs.
Control and management of Cushing’s disease in dogs is achieved with daily medication. Regular monitoring of the effectiveness of the treatment and the release of cortisone into your dog’s system is important to ensure the disease is being controlled. Regular blood tests done every 3 to 6 months as well as observation of your pet’s appearance is the usual way we monitor the effectiveness of any treatment programme.
What happens if no treatment is given?
A dog that does not receive treatment to control this disease will become progressively lethargic and weak, may develop pancreatitis or diabetes and may suffer from heart or kidney failure.
If you recognise any symptoms of Cushing’s disease in your dog, contact the team on PetsApp or call 01772 639800 OR 01253 766352 and book an appointment.
Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash
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