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What is Cushing’s disease?
Cushing’s disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism is a condition that develops as a result of the overproduction or excessive amounts of cortisol in the body. It is one of the most common endocrine disorders in dogs.
This is a slow, gradual disease that commonly affects middle-aged to older dogs. While Cushing’s disease can also affect cats, it is more commonly found in dogs. Particular breeds such as German shepherds, poodles, golden retrievers, terriers, and dachshunds are more prone to this condition.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of Cushing’s disease include:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Urinating at night or having accidents
- Increased hunger
- Increased panting
- Pot-bellied abdomen
- Fat pads on the neck and shoulders
- Loss of hair
- Lack of energy
- Muscle weakness
- Darkening of the skin
- Thin skin
Not all symptoms will be apparent in all patients, and many of these symptoms can be associated with other diseases.
What causes Cushing’s?
The most common cause of hyperadrenocorticism is a benign pituitary tumor. 80-85% of naturally occurring Cushing’s cases are caused by problems within the pituitary gland. This form of the disease is called pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism or PDH. 15-20% of naturally occurring Cushing’s cases are caused by tumors with-in the adrenal gland.
Overuse of corticosteroid medications can also cause hyperadrenocorticism in dogs. Corticosteroid drugs are commonly used to treat allergies, immune disorders and some types of cancer; to reduce inflammation; or as replacement therapy for low, naturally occurring cortisone levels.
What do the adrenal and pituitary glands do?
The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys and produce several vital substances that regulate a variety of body functions and are necessary to sustain life. The most widely known of these substances is cortisol, commonly known as “cortisone.” Decreased or excessive production of these substances, especially cortisol, may be life-threatening.
The pituitary gland is located in the frontal lobe of the brain. It regulates the functions of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that signal the thyroid and adrenal glands, ovaries, and testicles how much hormone to secrete.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is one of the body’s natural steroids. Normal amounts of cortisol help the body adapt in times of stress. It also helps regulate proper body weight, tissue structure, skin condition, and other features of good health.
Too much cortisol weakens the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to other diseases and infections.
How do I help my pet with Cushing’s?
Your veterinarian will outline a treatment plan for your pet’s specific condition. Be sure to follow these guidelines closely, because these treatments often depend on consistent and regular administration of the medication. Lifelong treatment may be necessary.
Most dogs can be successfully treated with few medication side effects. However, your pet must be carefully monitored using blood tests and clinical signs. Follow-up blood tests are very important to be certain your pet is receiving the proper dosage and not too little or too much of the drug, both of which can cause complications.
PetAlive® has developed two unique all natural products to help manage the symptoms of Cushing’s disease in pets.
- Promotes endocrine system balance
- Supports normal urination and appetite
- Promotes healthy skin and coat to help prevent thinning
- Supports healthy energy levels
- Promotes your pet’s adrenal and pituitary gland health
- Reduces excessive thirst and urination
- Relieves dry, itchy skin and promotes a healthy coat
- Promotes a healthy appetite and system detoxification
While each is effective on its own, taken together they provide both systemic support and symptom relief.
BY MARY ELLEN KOSANKE