Cushings Disease in Dogs: A Deep Dive
When our canine friends display specific symptoms, the diagnosis might lead to a condition that’s not as widely known as, say, fleas or ticks: Hyperadrenocorticism, more popularly known as Cushing’s disease. It’s important to know the symptoms so that you can get your dog the help it needs.
Demystifying Cushings Disease
When the body starts ramping up the production of cortisol, a hormone usually associated with stress, it can have some serious and detrimental effects. This hormone, stored in the adrenal glands and located above the kidneys, becomes a silent nemesis. While dogs are the primary victims, cats, horses, and even humans can fall prey to this condition. Ann Stohlman, V.M.D. from FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, succinctly points out, “Cortisol is essentially the body’s natural steroid.” It’s our natural stress buster. But, as with all things, too much of it can be disastrous.
Cracking the Code: The Two Variants of Cushings Disease in Dogs
Most cases of canine Cushings are either pituitary-dependent or adrenal-dependent. A whopping 80-85% are pituitary-based, stemming from a tumor in the pituitary gland which is the control center for many of our hormones. This tumor sends the adrenal glands into overdrive, producing an excess of cortisol. Conversely, the rarer 15-20% adrenal-dependent cases result from a tumor directly in the adrenal glands.
Tell-tale Signs Like a website’s bounce rate that signals underlying issues, symptoms of Cushings in dogs can offer vital clues. These include:
- Thirst spikes
- More frequent urination
- Increased appetite
- Diminished activity
- Thin skin
- Recurrent skin infections
- A distended, “pot-bellied” appearance
Navigating Treatment Options If you think of treatment as optimizing a campaign, then there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for Cushings. The golden standard to “cure” adrenal-dependent Cushings is tumor removal, yet its complexity often necessitates medication instead.
Monitoring becomes pivotal. “Regular veterinary visits and blood tests are paramount,” advises Stohlman. “It ensures the medication dosage remains optimal.”
Emerging Solutions Vetoryl (trilostane) Capsules are the latest entrant in the medication realm for canine Cushings. What sets it apart? It’s versatile, treating both pituitary and adrenal-dependent Cushings. But as with any tool, there are caveats. For instance, dogs with kidney or liver diseases, or those on certain heart medications, should steer clear of Vetoryl.
Anipryl (selegiline) stands as an FDA-approved alternative, but its scope is limited to pituitary-dependent Cushings. Interestingly, a human chemotherapy drug, Lysodren (mitotane), has also found off-label usage for treating this condition in dogs.
Closing Thoughts Much like optimizing a website, treating Cushings disease in dogs requires constant monitoring, adjustments, and a deep understanding of the underlying issues. It’s a journey, but with the right strategies and care, our canine companions can lead healthy, fulfilling lives. As Stohlman aptly puts it, “Treating Cushings is a delicate dance, but with diligence and regular vet visits, our furry friends can thrive.”