What is Cushing’s Disease?
The adrenal glands overproduce cortisol in dogs with Cushing’s Disease. Cushing’s disease is also known as Hyperadrenocorticism.
What causes Cushing’s disease?
The three causes of Cushing’s Disease are:
- A pituitary gland tumour which overproduces the hormone that stimulates cortisol production in the adrenal glands. The size of the tumour and its malignancy varies widely. Signs of brain problems develop if the tumour is large, but this is unusual. Most dogs with this form of Cushing’s Disease live normal lives for many years as long as they take their medication and stay under close medical supervision.
- Excessive administration over long periods of time of synthetic cortisones like prednisolone, triamcinolone or dexamethasone causes Iatrogenic Cushing’s disease.
- An adrenal gland tumour is an uncommon cause of Cushing’s Disease. Surgical removal treats this form of the disease
- A marked increase in appetite
- Increased water consumption and urination
- Lethargy, panting and a poor hair coat
- A pot-bellied or bloated abdomen
How is it diagnosed?
If we suspect Cushing’s Disease we run a blood test to check your dog’s general health. An enzyme in the test called Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) is usually high in dogs with Cushings.
If ALKP is high then we do a Low Dose Dexamethasone test (LDDT) which will confirm or deny Cushings Disease.
To determine which type of Cushing’s disease your pet has, we ultrasound the adrenal glands and do an endogenous ACTH blood test.
Although some of these tests are expensive, they are necessary to allow us to accurately target the treatment.