what is Cushing’s disease in dogs? Cushing?s syndrome is a condition that affects humans and dogs. This is because they have one important thing in common — the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is primarily known as a response to stress but is also a factor Cushing disease dog behavior. Consider some facts about this conditions and how a canine Cushing?s disease recommended diet can help. Let’s find more about it, shall we?
Pet Owners Should Know: What Is Cushing’s Disease in Dogs
What exactly is Cushing?s Syndrome?
All animals, canine and human included, have a fight or flight mechanism designed to help them survive. Cortisol is the hormone behind that response. This chemical helps the dog react to stressful situations. Not to mention, control weight, fend off infections and manage blood sugar levels.
Too much cortisol, however, leads to Cushing?s disease or syndrome, a condition also known as hypocortisolism or hyperadrenocorticism.
There are two types of Cushing?s disease:
- Pituitary-dependent — This version affects about 80 to 90 percent of dogs diagnosed and results from a pea-sized tumor in the brain.
- Adrenal-dependent — With the adrenal-dependent Cushing?s, the tumor rests in one of two glands that sit atop of the kidneys.
There is no test that tells a vet your dog has Cushing?s syndrome, which is why diagnosing it is tricky.
Symptoms of Canine Cushing?s Disease
? Natchez Trace Vet (@NatchezVet) August 10, 2017
Cushing?s disease typically occurs in older dogs and is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other conditions. A dog with Cushing?s disease might always seem hungry and thirsty. As a result, the need to go outside increases, too. Some dogs might even start having accidents inside the house.
Dog?s with Cushing?s pant excessively and will develop a pot belly along with lumps in the skin and bald spots in the fur. You might notice your pet seems uninterested in play and wants to sleep more. Dogs with Cushing?s are prone to skin infections, as well.
To diagnose the disease, your vet will look to rule out other more likely problems first such as a urinary tract infection or difficulty digesting certain proteins. Testing will include the ACTH stimulation test to measure how well the adrenal glands are making cortisol. The low dose dexamethasone suppression test determines how well the dog responds to man-made cortisol. An ultrasound of the belly and other imaging tests help determine the type of Cushing?s disease, so the vet can create a proper treatment plan.
Treatment for Canine Cushing?s Disease
There are a number of approaches to treating this condition, but, if the tumor is located in the adrenal gland, surgically removing the gland is one possible solution. It is a complex surgery, though, so often vets will try to manage both forms medically instead and that involves a combination of drug therapy and diet management.
The most common prescription medication used in the treatment of Cushing?s is trilostane, brand name Vetoryl. It inhibits an enzyme necessary to produce cortisol, therefore, limiting it. Lysodren is an older drug not commonly used anymore because of the potential side effects. Vetoryl is not without problems, though. It can lead to poor appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. If you want to help your pet get through the symptoms associated with Cushing’s disease, anti-inflammatory supplements such as NatureGood’s Hip + Joint may help.
What is a Good Diet for a Dog With Cushing?s Disease?
The vet will also work to find a proper diet for a dog with Cushing?s disease that will include a selection of natural foods, possibly home cooked or raw. There are some commercial kibble brands that are specially formulated for a dog with this condition.
Homemade foods would be low in fiber and include ground fresh vegetables such as carrots, peas or green beans and apples. Add beans and potatoes as good sources of potassium, a mineral that can help reduce the side effects of the medications.
Protein is an important part of a canine Cushing?s disease recommended diet, too, because it boosts energy levels and helps manage weight. Look for proteins that are very low in fat, especially if preparing food at home for your pet. Red meat is best, but if you opt for chicken, take off the skin to remove the majority of the fat.
Left untreated, Cushing?s disease puts your dog at risk for potentially life-threatening conditions like diabetes and heart disease. It will lower life expectancy and quality, as well. Although there is no cure for the most common form of the disease, it is manageable with drug therapy and a diet.
Does your pet dog have symptoms of Cushing’s disease or are you already providing the proper diet? Let us know in the comments section below.?