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Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

  • Heidi

What You Should Know

Has your dog been drinking more lately? Do they seem ravenous? If they’ve also developed a pot-bellied appearance or started to lose hair, it could be Cushing’s disease.

Cushing’s disease is a common disorder in dogs. Other names for this condition include Cushing’s Syndrome, hypercortisolism, and hyperadrenocorticism.

It develops when the body produces too much cortisol. This hormone has several important jobs, like helping the system respond to stress and danger. It also helps maintain healthy body condition and fight infection.

However, there can also be too much of a “good” thing.

When a dog has Cushing’s, the elevated cortisol levels actually weaken the immune system, making the dog more sensitive to infections and disease.

It also develops slowly, occurring most frequently in middle-aged and older dogs. Unfortunately, without treatment, it can lead to serious complications.

Signs of Cushing’s disease include:

  • Increased thirst and appetite
  • Increased urination (frequency and quantity)
  • Recurrent skin infections
  • Poor coat quality and hair loss
  • Drowsiness or decreased activity
  • Excessive panting
  • Fragile or thin skin and recurrent skin infections
  • Hardened growths or lumps under the skin (calcified skin)
  • An enlarged abdomen

But there’s good news, too.

There are different types of Cushing’s disease, but you can often manage the most common form with medication.

If you’ve noticed changes in your dog’s thirst, appetite, or urination, don’t wait to schedule a vet appointment. Tests exist to diagnose Cushing’s disease, so you can manage your dog’s hormone levels moving forward.

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