When you have a beloved pet the internet can be a mixed blessing. Every time your pet gets sick you are going to Google symptoms and worry that the worst is happening. It’s only natural, of course. You’re worried about your furry best friend. In today’s article we are going to talk about Cushing’s disease so that if you are worried that your little one has it you can know more about the symptoms and treatments so that you know exactly what you CAN do. Yes, Cushing’s disease can be fatal but there are treatments, so let’s discuss the details and then we’ll go into some information so that you know when to put a dog down with Cushing’s disease.
So, what is Cushing’s disease?
Cushing’s disease, also known as hyperadenocorticism, is a condition where the dog’s body is producing too much of a steroidal hormone called cortisol. This is generally the result of a tumor on either the pituitary or the adrenal gland, forcing the natural production of this hormone that your dog needs into overdrive. The chemical itself is not harmful in normal amounts, as it helps the body when it comes to dealing with stress of the body, but when too much of it is present then it becomes dangerous and can possibly prove fatal for your dog.
What are the symptoms of Cushing’s disease?
There are a number of symptoms which can indicate that your dog may indeed be suffering from Cushing’s disease. We should note at this time that this condition typically affects medium-age to older dogs, though if you see these symptoms in a younger dog do not hesitate to take a trip to the vet. Your veterinarian can run numerous tests that can get behind the cause of the symptoms and whether it is Cushing’s or not, you’ll know that your dog can get a little relief. Now, the symptoms for Cushing’s disease in dogs include the following:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination (especially if your dog is suddenly having to go at night when they were not previously doing so)
- Distending of the belly (making your dog appear to suddenly obese)
- Increased appetite
- Hair loss
- Changes in the skin (darkening in pigment, blackheads, or thin skin)
Are certain breeds more susceptible to Cushing’s disease?
While it can occur with any breed of dog, certain breeds are going to be more prone to developing Cushing’s than others. These breeds include Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Poodles, Dachshunds, Beagles, and Terriers.
How treatable is it?
Cushing’s disease is a lifelong ailment and while it can be treated, it cannot be cured. That said, Cushing’s does not always HAVE to be treated and as the treatment itself includes risks as well the best thing to do is going to be consulting with your veterinarian in order to weigh the pros and the cons of all the options. As it is a disease which progressed slowly over the years, what your vet will likely want to do is treat the dog if the symptoms are excessive. If they are minor then it may be best to leave the condition untreated. This is due to the nature of the treatment. In order to deal with the tumor medication is required, as it is inoperable due to the location where it is situated. As far as the medication, the two most commonly utilized medications for this condition are trilostane and mitotane
“Both of these can come with the risk of serious complications”
and both of these can come with the risk of serious complications, so they are likely going to be used only when absolutely necessary and your dog is going to require frequent monitoring to ensure the dosage amounts are proper and to determine the progress. If the Cushing’s disease is left untreated, there is a possibility (though it is rare) of your dog developing a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament or diabetes mellitus. Your veterinarian will run a number of tests to confirm Cushing’s and if it is present, to determine how far along the Cushing’s has progressed so that you can both strategize appropriately to get your dog the relief that it needs.
How do I know when it is time to let go?
While Cushing’s disease is treatable and most dogs will experience years of life, the average life expectancy is typically going to be in the neighborhood of 30 – 36 months (with the 30 being for a pituitary tumor and 36 for an adrenal one). If you feel that your dog is suffering the best thing which you can do is to check with your vet in order to get their opinion. One of the main reasons for this is the way dogs communicate. If your dog is whining, it’s not always pain, in fact, it is more likely disorientation or your dog could be a little frightened. Dogs tend to ‘suffer in silence’, keeping pains to themselves, and the behavior which a dog manifests when they are truly in pain tends to involve change in when and how much they eat, stiffness of gait, change in postures, and more. As such, if you think that your dog is suffering be sure to get your vets opinion to confirm that this is the case before you make a hasty decision. It might be that your dog is not suffering like you imagine and your vet will be able to tell you how to keep your dog healthy and comfortable for the remainder of its life.
Some final words
In today’s article we have talked about Cushing’s disease in order to inform you about what it is, which breeds are most susceptible, and what is involved in the treatment when it becomes absolutely necessary. Above all we advise you not to panic yet. Your veterinarian is quite familiar with Cushing’s disease and is going to know the best way to proceed to ensure that your furry best friend is well taken care of. The first thing to do is to schedule that vet appointment to learn your options!