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What is Cushing’s disease?

  • Greater thirst and water consumption
  • Frequent urination
  • Incontinence
  • Urinary infections
  • Hair loss
  • Thin skin/skin infections
  • Increased appetite (including begging for food or stealing it)
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Cushing’s disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, comes from an overexposure to glucocorticoids, a naturally occurring steroid. Cushing’s disease can result in the failure of various bodily systems - particularly urinary - and typically affects older dogs.
  • Iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome is the rarest form of the disease, while pituitary-dependant Cushing’s disease is the most prevalent. Adrenal Cushing’s disease is another form of the disease that occurs on the adrenal gland.
  • There are a number of tests to check if your dog has Cushing’s disease. These include urinalysis, ACTH stimulation tests, ultrasounds and both high and low dose dexamethasone suppression tests.
  • Diabetes can be a secondary condition related to Cushing’s. Both have similar symptoms, so be sure to discuss any concerns with your veterinarian.
  • There is no cure for Cushing’s disease, so it’s important to watch for the warning signs and catch the disease early. Many dogs live for years when they have the right medication.
  • There’s no way to prevent this disease from affecting your dog. It is unknown whether Cushing’s disease can be inherited.
  • Dogs with Iatrogenic Cushing’s disease frequently only need to taper off their current medication to end their Cushing’s symptoms. This may present other health problems however.
  • Adrenal Cushing’s disease can be treated by removing the adrenal gland when the tumor has not metastasized. This surgery is dangerous however, and some owners opt for medication instead.
  • The pituitary is too difficult to operate on, so most dog owners turn to medication as the best course of action when they have pituitary Cushing’s disease.
  • Following adrenal surgery or resolving Iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome, your dog will likely get back to normal.
  • With other forms of the disease that require medication, you may notice the initial symptoms dissipate, but drug side effects may take their place.
  • With proper treatment, dogs have been known to live two years or longer with this disease that was formerly a death sentence.

a PetPlus Member's story

I would highly recommend Pet Plus for any prescription med or other items, such as flea and tick medication. Khaki uses Vetoryl to treat Cushing’s disease. image description SAVED $541 this year Karen + Khaki Hindersonville, NC Read More

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What To Expect

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    Prescription Medication

    Medication is one of the most popular and successful ways to treat Cushing’s disease. Mitotane (also known as Lysodren) is a human chemotherapy drug that can be used to eliminate those portions of the pituitary gland that are overproducing. Anipryl or selegiline is approved for treatment of dogs by the Food and Drug Administration for pituitary Cushing’s disease. Vetoryl, or trilostane, is a newer FDA-approved drug that’s more versatile that selegiline. These drugs often carry significant side effects but can help dogs live longer. Radiation therapy is another treatment that’s used on some dogs for treating pituitary tumors.

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    Food

    Increased thirst and appetite are two of the most noticeable symptoms of Cushing’s disease. Talk to your veterinarian about how much water and food to provide your dog to cope with this change.

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    Nonprescription Options

    The only non-pharmaceutical treatment for Cushing's is surgery. Malignant and benign tumors have been removed in dogs with adrenal Cushing’s disease with great success, but pituitary tumors cannot be operated on yet. Natural or supplemental treatments may help with symptoms however. For example, your dog’s sore or damaged skin may benefit from non-prescription treatments such as Omega-3s that promote skin health.

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    Professional Treatment

    When your dog has Cushing’s disease, your veterinarian quickly becomes part of your team. From testing for a diagnosis to deciding on a drug regimen, your vet can help you and your furry friend battle this disease together. Typically veterinarians prescribe daily medication.

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He was just overall better, more like himself. After 3 months and more blood tests, the correct daily dosage was correcting the problem.
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