Cushing’s syndrome in dogs is a life-threatening disease, the symptoms of which must be known. The medical name for this condition, which is characterized by the adrenal glands producing too much cortisol, is hyperadrenocorticism. The adrenal glands are located close to the kidneys and secrete hormones that regulate many bodily functions. Cortisol is among these hormones. The consequences of any abnormal change in cortisol production are equally dangerous. In this article, you can find information about Cushing’s syndrome in dogs.
What Causes Cushing’s Syndrome in Dogs?
Before going into details about the causes of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs, we would like to give a brief information about the hormone cortisol, which is the main factor in the formation of this disease. Cortisol is an important hormone that helps dogs respond to stress, control weight, fight infections, and regulate blood sugar. The causes of Cushing’s syndrome can vary, and it is critically important to correctly diagnose the causes in order to evaluate treatment options and improve dogs’ quality of life. Because the causes of Cushing’s syndrome can vary according to the types of the disease.
Pituitary Gland Tumor
The most common cause of Cushing’s disease in dogs is a pituitary gland tumor. This tumor can be benign or malignant. The presence of the tumor may cause the pituitary gland to produce more of the hormone ACHT, which the adrenal glands secrete to produce cortisol. When the pituitary gland produces more ACHT, cortisol production in the adrenal glands is also triggered. Pituitary gland tumor may be microscopic or larger. Depending on how large the tumor is, the signs of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs can vary. To make a general statement, we can state that if the activity of the adrenal gland can be controlled, many dogs with this form of Cushing’s disease can live normal lives for many years as long as they take their medication and stay under close medical supervision. If the pituitary tumor grows, it affects the brain and often causes neurological signs, giving the pet a less favorable prognosis. Unfortunately, this occurs in about 15% of patients.
Adrenal Gland Tumor
Cushing’s disease in dogs can also be caused by tumor formations in the adrenal gland. If the tumor is benign, in other words, if it is not cancerous, the treatment of the disease is possible with surgical intervention. When the tumor is malignant, surgical options can still be considered, but it will not be a realistic approach to give a guarantee about the results obtained.
Types of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs have also been identified in connection with the reasons we have just mentioned. There are two different types of the disease, Cushing’s syndrome originating from the pituitary gland and Cushing’s syndrome originating from the adrenal gland. However, it is possible to mention an additional cause and type of disease.
Long-Term Steroid Use
When dogs get sick, they may need to regularly use various medications under the control of veterinarians. One of the drugs that should be used under the control of veterinarians is the steroid group. Cushing’s syndrome may occur in dogs who take too much steroid medication, either orally or by injection.
The causes of Cushing’s syndrome are not limited to the ones we have mentioned. It is known that some breeds have a higher risk of developing this disease. It can be stated that the risk of Cushing’s syndrome in older ages is higher in Poodle, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Beagle and Dachshund dogs compared to other breeds.
Cushing’s Syndrome Symptoms in Dogs
Cushing’s syndrome in dogs is usually felt in middle or advanced ages. Making sense of its symptoms is often not easy.
- More thirst than usual in dogs,
- Increased appetite in dogs
- Increased urinary frequency, urinary accidents at home,
- Hair shedding or slow growth,
- thinning of the skin,
- fatigue and inactivity
- rapid breathing and
- Skin infections are among the symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs. These symptoms can also be a sign of other problems. Why Do Dogs Breathe Rapidly? You can find our content named here.
Diagnosing Cushing’s Syndrome in Dogs
There is no 100% effective method to be used in the diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs. For this reason, veterinarians analyze the complaints of dogs at the diagnosis stage and may need several different test results. In this context, they can do the ACHT test, which triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, they can image the abdomen with ultrasound, and they can do the LDDS test to measure the dog’s body’s response to cortisol.
Cushing’s Syndrome Treatment in Dogs
Cushing’s syndrome treatment in dogs is planned specifically for the dog, in line with the root cause of the disease and the general health condition of the dogs. If the cause of the disease is caused by tumor formations in the adrenal glands, it is possible to resort to surgical options. If the tumor detected in the adrenal glands is malignant and the cancerous cells have spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body, then surgical treatment options will be disabled. With the use of medication, it may be possible to minimize the negative effects of the disease and to lead an active life for dogs.
If Cushing’s disease in dogs is caused by tumors in the pituitary gland, it is not very possible to apply the option of surgery. In this case, drug therapy should be planned.
If the reason is the steroid group drugs used in the past, then the drug use may need to be discontinued. It is important to gradually discontinue steroid group drugs in order to avoid different side effects. If the functions of the adrenal glands are impaired due to steroids, additional treatment processes may be needed.