Just like humans, dogs’ hormones can sometimes get out of balance. One example of hormonal imbalance is Cushing’s Disease. Also called hyperadrenocorticism (that's a mouthful),it causes excessive cortisol production in the adrenal or pituitary glands.
So, what does that mean exactly?
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.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
Although there are many symptoms, Cushing’s Disease can be quite difficult to diagnose properly. Some things to look out for:
- An increase in thirst, appetite, or urination
- A saggy belly
- Lethargy and weakness
- 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.
Treating your dog
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!