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Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

07/01/2016 by Dr. Kait Link, DVM
July 1st, 2016 by Dr. Kait Link, DVM

Cushings-Disease-in-DogsJust like humans, dogs’ hormones can sometimes get out of balance. One example of hormonal imbalance is Cushing’s Disease, also called hyperadrenocorticism, which means excessive cortisol production in the adrenal or pituitary glands.

Cortisol is normally produced in times of stress, or in response to low blood glucose. It is also known as the fight or flight hormone, so increased level can seriously stress out your pup. This disease weakens the immune system and can leave your pup vulnerable to additional infections and diseases.

Although there are many symptoms, Cushing’s Disease can be quite difficult to diagnose properly. Some signs to look out for: an increase in thirst, appetite, or urination; a saggy belly; lethargy and weakness; and hair loss.

Several blood tests are necessary to identify the disease as well as figure out whether the adrenal or the pituitary gland is the source of all the trouble. In addition to blood tests, x rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs can sometimes be useful in making a diagnosis.

Just like the symptoms and diagnosis, the treatment of Cushing’s disease is varied and complex. Sometimes prescriptions are necessary, but surgery may also be an option. Although not a fatal disease, treatment is generally encouraged to improve the quality of life for your dog. Without treatment, symptoms may persist indefinitely. It’s best to come up with a plan alongside your veterinarian, since treatment is unique to every pup.

Dr. Kait Link, DVM, is a veterinarian and co-founder of Treat, an innovative vet practice. Treat is reinventing pet care, offering instant access to affordable in-home veterinary care, training, and grooming. Book in under a minute or chat free anytime. Download the Treat app at