What it is: Also called hyperadrenocorticism, Cushing’s disease occurs when a dog has unusually high levels of cortisol or similar hormones in his system. The high levels of glucocorticoid hormones can result in gastrointestinal issues, hypertension, discomfort and, if left untreated, eventual death. A benign tumor in the pituitary gland is often to blame.
- Increased hunger, thirst and urination
- Excessive panting
- Obesity, especially in abdominal area
- Fatty areas around neck and shoulders
- Loss of hair
- Lack of energy and muscle weakness
- Lack of heat cycle in females, shrinking testicles in males
- Blackheads on the skin
- Darkened skin
- Thinning or weak skin due to weight gain
- Hard, white scaly patches on elbows and skin
Treatment: Surgery, radiation therapy or medication to remove tumors is often the first step if a tumor is behind the condition. Treatment also involves regulating the cortisol levels through ongoing medication over the lifetime of your pet.
Pet insurance plans often cover the cost of treatment for Cushing’s disease, even if that treatment extends throughout the lifetime of your dog.
Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.