Dogs Cushing’s disease, if not treated, can eventually progress into a life-threatening condition for you pet. It can lead to kidney, liver, and even heart failure, as well as diabetes and several neurological disorders.
This disease will also make your pet much more likely to incur infections in their mouths, their ears, and several areas or their skin, as well as their urinary tract.
Dogs Cushing’s disease is also known as “hyperadrenocorticism”, and is a result of a chronic overproduction of too much cortisone in your dog’s body.
In a normal and healthy dog, the pituitary gland will produce a hormone that is called ACTH, and has the major function of stimulating the adrenal gland to produce glucocorticoid, which is a steroid hormone. This hormone is a necessity for several functions of your dog’s body. If too much glucocorticoid (cortisone) is produced, a dog Cushing’s disease is the result.
There are three causes of dogs Cushing’s disease; one is with problems with the pituitary gland, the second is with problems in the adrenal gland, and the third is a man-made cause.
Your dog’s body produces cortisone as a natural response to stressful situations. The pituitary gland that is located in your dog’s brain regulates the activity of the adrenal gland that is located directly in front of the kidney.
The pituitary gland produces a hormone that is referred to as ACTH, and this is the hormone that is responsible for stimulating the adrenal gland into producing cortisones in your dogs body.
The major cause of dogs Cushing’s disease by far and away is when an ACTH producing tumor forms in the pituitary gland. This causes the body to produce too much cortisone. There have been some instances, although not near as many as the first example, where cortisone may produce a tumor in the adrenal gland, also causing the disease.
The third cause of dogs Cushing’s disease is when your dog receives too much cortisone either through injections of cortisone, or over supplementation of cortisone.
If your dog’s body produces too little of these vital cortisones they may experience weakness, vomiting, sudden collapse, and in severe cases, even death.
If your dog’s body produces too much, again the result is dogs Cushing’s disease, which can also cause several potential health problems for your dog.
So where exactly does vitamins and supplements, especially the B vitamin complex, come into the picture with dogs Cushing’s disease?
Most diseases or conditions with your dog can be helped and even prevented if their immune system has been built to combat intrusions. Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) is a critical vitamin that helps your dog’s body deal with stress, as it enhances the activity of the adrenal glands.
Vitamin B5 is also very effective in increasing energy levels as well as the other B vitamins such as niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12 that help the nervous system and the glandular system.
There are several symptoms that you can watch for with this disease; the most prevalent is that it causes the relaxation of the ligaments in the abdomen as well as enlargement of the liver.
This is the major reason that dogs with this disease develop “pot bellies”, and this is perhaps the most telling sign that your pet has this disease, and is caused by the fat that lays in the abdominal shifting while at the same time, due to the loss of cortisone, the muscle mass is weakened.
The decrease of cortisone in this disease will also cause hair loss as well as thinning of the skin.
It increases your pets appetite and their thirst requirements as well, which will than result in weight gains, excessive drinking, and than the need for increased urination.
Dogs Cushing’s disease is generally a disease of middle aged dogs, (and cats), but is much more common in dogs, and usually will affect dogs at five to seven years of age or older, and is somewhat more common in females simply because they have more adrenal gland tumors than males.
There are as with most diseases in dogs, certain breeds that are more at risk and they are the smaller breeds that include several of the Terriers; Silky, Bull, Boston and Yorkshire Terriers as well as Miniature and Toy Poodles, and Dachshunds.
Diagnosis of this disease can be very difficult as it will resemble several other types of diseases that your canine can get. It will be very important for your veterinarian to have a complete and very thorough examination of their blood count known as CBC, as well as complete blood chemistry and a urinalysis.
Treatment of dogs Cushing’s disease will present the owner with several options, including surgery, depending on the tumor, and if the tumor has affected the adrenal gland.
Surgery on a tumor in the pituitary gland, simply because it is in the brain, is highly specialized and not a real option for most owners.
The most common form of treatment for this disease will be non-surgical. Oral treatments have been found to be very successful in treating the pituitary gland tumors.
Even though over 80% plus of all cases of this disease involves the pituitary gland, the adrenal has also been successfully treated with the same oral treatments. The leading forms of treatment are Lysodren, Ketoconazole, and Trilostane. Trilostane is the newest treatment and has shown to be extremely promising with this disease.
Until recently, the only real non-surgical treatment was Lysodren. It is very inexpensive, very effective, and is still the most common form of oral treatment.
However, it does have some rather potentially serious side affects to your dog, and once started your dog will have to take this treatment for the remainder of its life.
Ketoconazole was widely used for several years because of its side effects of interfering with the synthesis of steroid hormones, but its usage has dropped off almost entirely with the introduction of Trilostane.
Trilostane has shown very promising results in treating dogs Cushing’s disease, and virtually has no side effects.
If your dog is treated properly, they can live a healthy and happy life for several years. Building and maintaining your dog’s immune system is still the best way to protect your dog in the long term from this or any other disease.
After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.