Cushing’s disease in dogs is a condition when a dog has unusually high levels of cortisol or similar hormones in his system.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps dogs deal with stress and aids in controlling their immune system. However, too much cortisol in a dog can cause a lot of damage.
Cushing’s disease, also called hyperadrenocorticism, is one of the most common endocrine disorders that affect dogs, particularly middle-aged or older dogs.
The higher levels of the glucocorticoid hormones can result in gastrointestinal issues, hypertension, discomfort, and if left untreated, even death.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs
Some of the symptoms that can occur when a dog has Cushing’s disease are the following:
Causes of Cushing’s Disease
There are a few causes that can contribute to a dog developing Cushing’s disease:
Cushing’s disease can be difficult to accurately diagnose, but there are a few tests that your vet will probably perform.
Treatment Options with Cushing’s Disease
The treatment of Cushing’s depends on how the disease was developed.
Dogs that have Cushing’s disease due to an overuse of corticosteroid medication will be slowly weaned off these medications under a veterinarian’s guidance.
If a dog has mild symptoms of Cushing’s disease, then the dog would be monitored to make sure that the symptoms do not worsen.
Some examples of the disease become more serious are kidney damage, urinary accidents, excessive panting, urinating more often and reoccurring infections.
If Cushing’s syndrome is a result of a tumor on your pet’s adrenal glands, the vet will usually surgically remove it which should help cure your dog of Cushing’s. However, if the Cushing’s has spread, surgery is not an option.
Once Cushing’s has been diagnosed and none of the other treatment options is suitable, your vet will usually prescribe a medication called trilostane. While trilostane can help cure Cushing’s when it is pituitary related, the drug is known to have some severe side effects so your dog will need to be monitored.
Can Pet Insurance Help With Cushing’s Disease?
If you have pet insurance prior to a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease, you will be very relieved to have pet insurance.
If your dog develops Cushing’s disease and you are not enrolled in pet insurance, the disease will be considered pre-existing and it will not be covered.
Pet insurance can help offset the cost of treatment which can range anywhere from $500 to $1,900 depending on the severity of the condition.
Pet insurance plans like Healthy Paws will pay up to 90% of the treatment and with their unlimited benefits included in all plans, you can be sure your dog will be treated for the duration of his or her life.
There is no way to prevent Cushing’s disease.
The best thing you can do for your dog for this or any other disease or condition is to bring your dog to the vet if you notice your dog acting strangely or his or her urination patterns have changed abruptly.
Living and Management
If your veterinarian decides to give you dog trilostane for Cushing’s, your dog will be on the treatment for the duration of his or her life.
You will need to be mindful of any side effects that might occur and keep up with your vet visits.
Some of the negative side effects that can occur are lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes walking can be difficult.
However, if you keep up with the vet visits and follow your vet’s advice, your dog can still live a happy and long life.
If you are interested in learning about some other dog health issues that can occur with your dog, our dog health glossary is a good place to start!