• Cushing's disease is often mistaken for the aging process in older dogs. Symptoms will mirror the aging process and can be confusing for the pet owner. If you suspect your dog has Cushing's disease it can be diagnosed by a veterinarian.


    Cushing's disease tends to develop in older dogs and results when the adrenal gland (small paired glands located in front of each kidney) secretes more cortisone than a dog's body needs. This is also known as hyperadrenocorticism.


    Cushing's disease has three main causes. The most common is a microscopic benign tumor in the pituitary gland. Tumors in the adrenal glands can also cause Cushing's disease and the third cause is giving the dog too much glucocorticoid (steroid hormones given for allergies).


    Symptoms tend to mimic the aging process and often the owner mistakes Cushing's disease for normal age progression. The symptoms include hair loss, frequent urination, increased water and food consumption, and general limb weakness. Hiccups are not indicated as a symptom.


    To correctly diagnose Cushing's disease, a veterinarian will run the dog through a battery of exams including urine cortisol: creatinine (confirms the presence of cortisone in urine) and ACTH Stimulation (checks specifically for Cushing's). The exam results are used in conjunction with the dog's physical history to confirm Cushing's disease.


    Treatment of Cushing's disease is dependent on the cause of the disease and is symptomatic (treatment will address the symptoms instead of the disease itself). The objective of the treatment is to increase the quality of life, not to increase the dog's lifespan.


    Long Beach Animal Hospital, Cushing's Disease (hyperadrenocorticism)

    Kate Connick's Courteous Canines, Canine Cushing's Disease

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