Dog Cushing's disease-A Brief Overview

Unfortunately, as dog’s age, their risk of developing health problems increases. There are several different medical conditions and diseases which affect middle aged and elderly dog far more than young dogs, one of which is dog Cushing’s disease. While signs and symptoms of this disorder may be vague at first, as the disease progresses it can have serious detrimental effects on the dog’s health and well-being. For this reason, it’s important to catch the disease as early as possible so that a treatment plan can be implemented, restoring the canine patient’s comfort and happiness.

What is Dog Cushing’s disease?

Dog Cushing’s disease Syndrome, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is an endocrine disorder involving the overproduction of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released during times of stress and, in a healthy dog; the levels of this hormone in the blood are maintained with only minimal fluctuations. However, when a dog is suffering from canine Cushing’s disease, its adrenal glands chronically overproduce cortisol.

Why is Dog Cushing’s disease Dangerous?

When cortisol levels are chronically high, a dog’s system essentially becomes poisoned and its entire body feels the effects. The canine’s blood pressure will rise and the animal will experience detrimental effects to the health of its skin and hair. Muscle weakness also typically occurs, making it difficult or impossible for the animal to participate in regular daily activities. One of the most dangerous consequences of dog Cushing’s Disease is the fact that this endocrine disorder weakens the dog’s immune system, making the animal less able to defend itself against other illnesses and diseases.


The causes of dog Cushing’s disease Syndrome typically fall into three main categories. First of all, this disorder can be caused by long-term administration of steroid medications such as those used to treat allergies or inflammation. When canine hyperadrenocorticism is caused by medical treatment, the disease is referred to as iatrogenic Cushing’s disease. Occasionally, this endocrine disorder will be caused by a problem with the adrenal glands, typically in the form of an adrenal gland tumor. However, most cases of dog Cushing’s Disease are triggered by the presence of a tumor on the pituitary gland, which results in the over stimulation of the adrenal glands and, in turn, the continued overproduction of cortisol which is characteristic of this disease.

Who is at risk?

Dog Cushing’s disease is most common among middle aged and old canines. There are also certain breeds that are more predisposed to developing this disease than others. Some of these breeds include poodles, terriers, and dachshunds. Since this disorder more commonly affects older dogs, the early symptoms of canine Cushing’s disease are often mistaken for normal signs of ageing.


The tendency to mistake the early symptoms of this disorder for signs of ageing also occurs due to the fact that warning signs are typically vague in the beginning. However, the symptoms will grow increasingly more severe and noticeable with time. Some of the most common warning signs of Cushing’s disease, exhibited by the majority of dogs suffering from this disorder, include a ravenous appetite, increased thirst, and increased frequency of urination. A sagging belly and elevated blood sugar are also characteristic of this disease. Other common symptoms of Cushing’s disease include loss of fur resulting in bald patches on the dog’s trunk, darkening of the skin, and skin infections which may lead to scabs and areas of irritation.


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