ADDISON’S DISEASE IN DOGS

Addisons Disease occurs as a result of a hormonal disorder. Ordinarily, your dogs adrenal glands, which are located near the kidneys, produce cortisol and aldosterone. These two hormones are vital for combating stress and for regulating electrolytes and water within your dogs body. Addisonss disease is a deficiency in these two hormones.

While not common, Addison’s can affect any dog, and is occasionally seen in cockapoos. Standard poodles and certain other dogs are more prone to Addison’s than most breeds, so it is important understand the symptoms and to be aware of the risk, however small.

Addisons disease is referred to either as primary or secondary, with primary being the more common form. Primary Addisons disease occurs when your dogs own body turns upon itself and his own immune system attacks his adrenal gland. It is not known why this happens. Primary Addisons disease also occurs as a result of some medications, cancer, toxins or a concurrent disease. For example, if a dog is treated for Cushings syndrome the medication used may attack too much of the adrenal gland. The outcome may be a deficiency in cortisol and aldosterone.

Secondary Addisons disease tends to occur as a result of a specific problem within the pituitary gland, such as a tumor. The pituitary gland is located in the brain and although small, is a vital organ when it comes to regulating hormones throughout the body. Secondary Addisons disease may also result if your dog comes off medication, such as steroids, too quickly, especially if he has been treated with steroids over a long period of time.

Symptoms of the Disease

There are a number of symptoms of Addisons disease, which dog owners need to be aware of. Associated with the intake of food and fluids, these include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, excessive thirst and diarrhea. Additional symptoms concerning general health and well being include weakness, lethargy, depression, a reduced heart rate, shaking and the skin feeling cool to the touch.

If you identify any of these symptoms in your dog, be sure to seek the assistance of your veterinarian so that your dogs health may be checked. If any of the symptoms are of a serious nature, such as severe vomiting, take immediate action in seeking medical care.

Diagnosing Addison’s Disease In Dogs

 

Many of the symptoms listed above are typical of a variety of medical conditions. As such, your veterinarian will need to identify your dogs specific illness by means of a number of diagnostic tests.
Typically, tests will include consideration of the function of the major organs, the kidney, liver and pancreas. Tests will be taken to identify infectious diseases, blood related illnesses or disorders, and any imbalance in electrolyte levels. Your veterinarian may test your dogs urine for evidence of infection as well as the function of the kidneys. Tests might also be made of the thyroid gland, and an ECG to assess whether your dogs heart rhythm is normal. Depending on the severity of your dogs symptoms and his general health and history, your veterinarian may not deem it necessary to run every test available in order to come to a diagnosis.
Treating Addison’s Disease
Once diagnosed, treatment of Addisons disease is often successful by the use of oral medication. Ongoing monitoring and treatment under your veterinarians supervision may ensure that your dog goes on to lead a happy and healthy life.

In some cases, dogs may need to take replacement cortisol and aldosterone for life. Situations which would normally require increased cortisol, such as traveling, boarding or surgery, might necessitate the need for the cortisol mediation to be increased. Such adjustments to your dogs medication should be carried out by your veterinarian, and so close monitoring of your dogs ongoing health by your veterinarian will be necessary. Simple follow up urine and blood tests will enable your veterinarian to verify how your dog responds to the medication and if adjustments are necessary.

After diagnosis and treatment is commenced, most dogs with Addisons disease have good to excellent prospects of living a productive and full life. If you have any concerns about Addisons disease, the symptoms or the treatment, contact your veterinarian who will no doubt be happy to discuss any questions you may have.

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