She has really slowed down, her coat has really thinned out, she has a pot belly, she looks boney and she drinks all the time. I am getting tired of cleaning up after those accidents! But she can’t be too sick, because she still loves to eat!”
If this sounds like your house, your pet may have Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism), one of the more common maladies of older dogs. It is the result of improper function of the adrenal glands and/ or the pituitary gland. The adrenal gland makes too much cortisone, a normal body compound. It is like being on prednisone all the time! In fact, this condition can be created when the chronic use of prednisone is needed for the treatment of other medical conditions. 85% of Cushing’s cases are due to tumor in the pituitary gland, the rest from a tumor in the adrenal gland itself. Both result in an over production of cortisol.
Although signs are subtle at first, effects on the health of your pet can include all of the sign’s listed above, plus the increased susceptibility to skin infection, diabetes, heart and liver disease, muscle wasting, pancreatitis, nervous system and clotting disorders.
Your veterinarian can usually pick up clues to the presence of Cushing’s disease by routine lab work. Suspect results can be confirmed by adrenal function testing, done at the veterinary office. Radiology or ultrasound is needed to diagnose an adrenal tumor. In some cases surgery is the answer, (adrenal tumor), but in most cases, oral medication is used to control the disease. Once she is on this medication, your veterinarian will monitor your pet through periodic lab work and exams. The general progression of the disease is typically well controlled, with conscientious attention. Her life and yours will be more normal, once she is stabilized on the correct dose of medication. Even though this is a life long disorder, with the proper care and attention, your pet will enjoy a happier and healthier life.
Please see your veterinarian for further information concerning your pet’s health.