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How to Recognize Cushing’s Disease in Your Dog

By David13676 @dogspired

How to Recognize Cushing’s Disease in Your Dog

You may have heard of Cushing’s disease, but did you know it can also occur in animals? Cats and horses can develop the disease, but it’s more common in dogs. The disease is also known as hyperadrenocorticism, which is the increased production of cortisol by the dog’s adrenal glands. This, in turn, causes an increased level of the hormone cortisol in the dog’s body. The higher levels of cortisol cause several symptoms, but Cushing’s disease in dogs is often difficult to diagnose and treat with the proper pet meds for three reasons:

-  It usually occurs in older dogs.
-  Symptoms mimic regular signs of aging.
-  Dog owners don’t know what to look for.

Awareness of the symptoms of Cushing’s disease, and knowing when to pursue treatment can improve your dog’s quality of life, and keep him more comfortable in his later years. While Cushing’s disease is not curable, it is treatable with FDA-approved drugs. Your vet can help you decide on the right course of action for your beloved pet. But in order to get that help, you have to know what to look for first.

Cushing’s Disease Symptoms

Your dog may only exhibit some of these symptoms, not all. But if you observe any of the following symptoms, it’s best to seek veterinary care to rule out not only Cushing’s disease, but other conditions as well.

-  Increased thirst and water consumption
-  Increased urine, both amount and frequency
-  Urinating in the house or other inappropriate places
-  Increased appetite and food consumption, both amount and frequency
-  Weight gain; obesity
-  Abdominal enlargement (pot-bellied appearance)
-  Bruising
-  Thin or fragile skin that tears easily
-  Poor wound healing
-  Dry, dull coat
-  Patchy hair loss, often symmetrical
-  Lethargy
-  Weakness
-  Inability to tolerate exercise
-  Muscle atrophy
-  Enlarged or atrophied external genitalia
-  Infertility
-  Poor coordination
-  Panting
-  Aimless wandering
-  Circling
-  Pacing

Because of the excess of cortisol in the body, dogs with Cushing’s disease are more prone to infections. They’re also at higher risk to develop pancreatitis, diabetes, congestive heart failure, blood clots, hypertension, hypothyroidism, seizures, and kidney and liver failure.

It’s also important to note that another common by-product of Cushing’s disease is euthanasia, particularly because an affected dog will begin to lose bladder control, which is only made worse by the increased thirst and need to drink more water. The more water in the bladder, the more likely the dog will be to urinate in the house. This leads some to the decision to euthanize their dogs. This is especially sad because with treatment, these symptoms can be lessened, and your dog can continue to live out its normal life.

In addition, although it’s normally older dogs who are affected by Cushing’s disease, it can occur in younger dogs as well. Dog owners must always be aware of the development of odd behaviors and symptoms like the ones listed here in order to be able to seek the proper treatment. As the disease progresses, it may eventually become necessary to euthanize your dog, when the treatments no longer work, and the symptoms make day-to-day living too difficult for your pet. This is true of any disease, and one of the heartbreaking parts of owning a dog.

If your dog develops Cushing’s disease, talk with your vet about treatment options, and how to properly care for your dog while he deals with this illness. The disease’s symptoms may make it a little more difficult to care for him, but with the proper medication and some precautionary measures, you and your dog can fight Cushing’s disease together. For all the years he was a good, loyal companion to you, he deserves that much.

Jackie is a writer for 1-800-PetMeds, and loves to help and support the pet community. You can find Pet Meds on Twitter or connect with Pet Meds on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Aine D. at Flicker


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