Cushing's Disease in Dogs
Cushing's Syndrome, also called hyperadrenocorticism, is a disease associated with the adrenal and pituitary glands and is caused by the excess production of cortisol.
The adrenal gland is located above the kidneys and is made up of the cortex and the medulla. The adrenal cortex is responsible for the production of three different steroid hormones: mineralocorticoids regulates electrolytes such as sodium and potassium; glucocorticoids helps metabolize nutrients and reduce inflammation; and the sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. The adrenal medulla is responsible for stress response and glucose production.
The pituitary gland is located near the bottom of the brain and is considered the "master gland" because of the vital role it plays in the production of hormones that control the endocrine system and many parts of the body.
Corticosteroids produced by the adrenal gland are controlled by the pituitary gland through the production of a hormone known as the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
There are different factors that can lead to the development of Cushing's disease, including long-term exposure to high levels of glucocorticoids produced by the dog's body or from the use of steroid medication. Benign tumors of the pituitary gland that secrete ACTH, which in turn causes the excess production of glucocorticoids by the adrenal gland, are responsible for 85 to 90 per cent of Cushing's disease. The second factor is tumors of the adrenal gland that produce corticosteroids.
Cushing's disease is common in middle-aged and older dogs, although dogs of all ages can be affected, especially miniature poodles, dachshunds, boxers, Boston terriers, and beagles.
Cushing's Disease Symptoms in Dogs
- increased thirst and urination
- increased appetite/overeating
- weak muscles
- heat intolerance
- thin skin
- hair loss
- potbelly and obesity
Visit your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has cushing's disease. To support your pet's recovery, always ensure he/she has a constant supply of fresh water and eats only high-quality, nourishing food. Herbal supplements may be beneficial in supporting your pet's health and wellbeing.