What is it?
• Hyperadrenocorticism, otherwise known as Cushings Disease, is the condition in which there is an overproduction of cortisol or other glucocorticoid hormones.
• Middle aged and senior dogs are most susceptible to the disease.
What causes it?
• Pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism occurs when a tumor in the pituitary gland causes an increase in the production of ACTH, which causes the adrenal glands to become overactive.
• Common symptoms include increased thirst, appetite, or urination, obesity, muscle weakness, lethargy, thinning of coat, heat intolerance, and urinary tract or skin infections.
What tests are needed?
• Because clinical signs are specific for this disease, extensive laboratory tests must be performed.
• Routine blood tests may show high levels of liver enzymes, cholesterol, blood sugar, and/or white blood cells.
• Screening tests are available to measure cortisol levels and usually require blood samples.
• Test results may not be clear cut, so often Cushing’s Disease may be tough to diagnose.
How is it treated?
• There are a number of medications available to treat Cushing’s Disease such as milotane or trilostane.
• Tumors may be removed through use of radiation or surgery.
What follow up care is needed?
• Repeated laboratory testing is necessary to monitor the status of the condition.
• Pet owners should research and understand the side effects to any drugs that are administered.
• The disease may shorten the dog’s overall lifespan, but most improve with therapy.