What is Dog Cushings disease
Cushings disease is a condition where the adrenal gland produces Excess cortisols to the body. Cortisols are usually produced during time of stress to give the dog ability to fight or flight. Its what most people call the adrenal surge in humans. The same condition which puts us into an alert mode when we are suddenly approached by a stranger in the dark or when a dog runs towards us suddenly. cortisols in general is not bad for dogs but when they are produced in excess, your dog tends to be in a state of confusion and stress most of the time. It effects the entire balance for the dog which includes their diet and water drinking habits.
Scientifically known as hyperadrenocorticism, the word clearly translates the condition. Hyper referring to “Active”, Adreno Referring to the “Adrenal Gland” and Corticism referring to the outer cover of the Adrenal gland which produces the Hormone.
Causes of Cushings disease in dogs
The theories range from stress to poor diet of commercial food and some even debate on the cause being entirely natural. How much and what to beleive is completely baffling. Many of the dog owners who have had dogs with cushings disease have stated that they indeed use commercial food for their dogs. Several of them have stated that there were stress related issues to dogs with cushings disease. Medically, Cushings disease is caused by excessive secretion of Adrenal juice. This is either caused due to problems in the pituitary gland or directly on the adrenal glands. The indicated problems are quite similar to cancer in both cases but is different. The medication too is the same for cancer in dogs when it comes to prescription drugs.
If You look at dogs with cushings disease there are significant differences when it comes to breeds. While some breeds are more likely to acquire cushings disease, others are quite immune to them. this is the case even if both the dogs are having the same kind of food and live in the same condition. though its proven fact that most dogs with cushings disease (over 80%) are fed with commercial diet, its cannot be established that Cushings disease is caused by the Commercial food itself.
the current studies does not point use definitively on how cushings disease is caused, but we could be safe with dogs being fed a natural diet or a home cooked food with no sugar and salt additives.
Types of Cushings disease in Dogs
Studies have clearly proven that the HyperAdrenoCorticism condition is due to excessive cortisol in the blood. Further research has confirmed 2 specific reasons for the creation of Cortisol in the Blood. the first one is due to a tumor in the adrenal gland. This is quite obvious as its directly linked to the condition. The second one though is due to a tumor in the Pituitary gland. Pituitary dependant cushings is more common in dogs as compared to adrenal Dependant cushings. The treatment for both though are different and its important that the vet determines the cause of the cushings disease in dogs.
Unfortunately, thing can get a bit more complicated if your dog has been administered certain drugs like prednisone, which , over time will start showing symptoms of cushings disease in dogs. This is a temporary condition and is easily treated by stopping prednisone for a few weeks) this condition is called iatrogenic Cushing’s.
due to the range of symptoms and a range of possibility on the cause of cushings disease, its essential that your dog be tested thoroughly before starting any kind of medication. If your dog is treated for Adrenal dependent cushings instead of pituitary dependent cushings, Things may not yield the right results and condition may worsen. The same applies the other way round too.
Pituitary Dependent cushing’s disease
Over 80% of the dogs suffering from cushings disease are affected from Pituitary dependent cushings disease. The Pituitary gland due to tumor could start producing certain hormones to activate the release of cortisol from the adrenal gland. This in turn creates a lot of other hormones to be active. The result is unwanted in dogs and cause cushings disease over a period of time. If detected early, medication has been found effective in controlling cushings disease by controlling the tumor itself. Over 90% of the dogs affected from pituitary dependent cushings disease and detected and treated early live a very normal life till the end if care and medication is proper. If treatment is delay and detection is done after a period of time, treatment is available but are found to affect the health of the dog. The life expectancy of the dog is directly related to the delay and could come down to less than 6 months.
The most effective treatment and remedy for Pituitary Dependant Cushings disease is medication and is usually a course for the whole life time of the dog. the most common Drug administered by Vets for Pituitary cushings disease includes Lysodren and Trilostane. ketoconazole or L-Deprenyl are used by a few veterinarians but has been found less effective when treating cushings disease.
Adrenal Dependent Cushing’s Disease
Affecting over 15% of the pets with cushings disease, Adrenal Dependent cushings is harder to treat with medication. The most effective remedy is a surgery. the surgery is helpful in removing the tumor in the adrenal gland , but in most cases adrenal dependent Cushings disease dogs have the tumor spread over a period of time causing the symptoms to reappear. Most dogs with adrenal
Dependent cushings disease find it hard to maintain a normal lifestyle after the surgery and their life expectancy is reduced drastically. Oral medication for Adrenal dependent cushings disease is not effective in most cases and the same drug used for Pituitary dependent cushings disease has been found ineffective Trilostane has been found to reduce symptoms of cushings disease in Adrenal Dependent cushings disease dogs in some cases for a limited time.
Symptoms of Dog Cushings Disease
Symptoms of Cushings disease take a wide range, often giving a range of possibilities of other disease in your dog and resluts in confusion. If your dog is diabetic or other conditions persist already, chances are that the symptoms will vary and require tests to confirm if cushings disease is the problem indeed.
The most common symptoms include:
- excessive water consumption also known as polydipsia is seen in dogs with Cushings disease. Note that this is also a symptom of Diabetic dogs and its important to watch out for other symptoms if your dog is simply too thirsty. Other conditions which may cause excessive water consumption includes the natural weather condition and excessive exertion to the dog due to exercises or work out. dogs with Cushings disease usually dont tend to be active so if your dog is drinking excess of water and also has been working out lately, then chances are your dog does not have cushings disease
- excessive urination otherwise known as polyuria is seen in dogs even though they are house trained and do not have the habit of urinating in the house. Most dogs with cushings disease cannot control their behavior and tend to urinate while they are standing. They find it difficult to move to the elimination zone quickly enough. The excessive water consumption adds up to their need to urinate time and again. this condition is something which is common in most dogs with cushings disease
- excessive appetite also known as polyphagia is seen in dogs with cushings disease. You could see dogs with excess hunger, eating double or what they used to and coming back very soon to their bowl searching for more. While most dogs eat once or twice a day, the dogs with cushings diseases seem to be hungry almost all the time and tend to eat 8 to 10 meals a day if provided. A condition to be watched for and a dangerous one. If your dog has started eating a lot, chances are that your dog is reaching advanced stage of Cushings disease. Dogs with cushings disease often tend to beg, steal or litter trash cans in search of food.
- Dogs with cushings disease often have a sagging, bloated, pot-bellied appearance. The excessive food which they consume gives them a very bloated belly look which is neither pleasing to the pet owner nor the dog. The condition directly affects the weight of the dog and the fat distribution is very uneven. A notable difference in the muscle mass is also seen giving it an appearance of weight loss but for the belly area.
- Due to the excessive bloating , the dogs have a bony appearance of head which gives them a very bad look. They are weak in the limb area too and specially the hind legs.
- Excessive weight makes the dog Lethargic and intolerant to exercises. you can see that cushings diseased dogs move to the corners and like to be left alone. They are reluctant to play, jump or even move around. Play time seems to be an ordeal to the dog and they dont jump on you or the furniture now.Excessive panting is seen on dogs with cushings disease even without a workout.
- Dogs with cushings disease are seen to have tinning of hair in the body area. There is Brittle and dry hair on the head and limbs but most hair tend to fall off from the body. there is no sign of itching or skin problems in the dog. The skin is usually very thin and tender, often looks very fragile and easy to be hurt. the skin, if hurt takes time to heal . the coat is very dull and dry in most cases. the skin is also pigmented in most cases.
- skin infection and urinary infection is very common in dogs with cushings disease. A watch is important specially for urinary infections. A time to time test should help your dog be in good health. Most dogs are also susceptible to Diabetes, pancreatis and seizures.
Diagnosis of Dog cushing disease
Diagnosis through Symptoms will not assure the type of cushings your dog is suffering from. The symptoms may also indicate you towards other conditions in your dog including diabetes. its important that the Diagnosis be done through proper medical tests and blood tests. Depending on the condition, Vets may recommend a urinalysis too to ensure the condition of the dog. Proper diagnosis of cushings disease will require that blood samples be taken before and after the ACTH simulation test. a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test may also be recommended for tests to confirm cushings disease in your dog
Diet for Dogs with Cushings disease
Plenty of People have problems checking out the diet for a dog with cushigns disease. The problem with cushings disease is that it is very sensitive to the food the dog eats. If your dog is indeed fed with commercial food, this is the time you change it. Since your dog will almost feed on anything now, change the diet to a more natural and raw diet. Lamb meat for the first few days with Pumpkin , Sweet potatoes and Olive oil with a teaspoon of Apple Cider vinegar should get your dog started. Be careful with the quantity though. There are times when people who have fed commercial dog food to the dogs loose the quantity on how much to feed their dogs with a natural raw diet. Avoid bones in the meat completely.
Adding Milk Thistle has been found effective for dog’s liver and is excellent for removing toxins. This overall diet should boost your dog’s energy level and also put things on track with the medication provided by your vet. Also look for the best natural remedies like Supraglan, cushex or Adrenal harmony gold to start treating your dog cushings disease. Natural medication has been found to be more effective than the prescription drugs with longer life expectancy and also no side effects.