Symptoms of Cushing's Disease in Dogs

By Tess Thompson

A mammal's body is very complex. It involves a series of preset and complicated actions, reactions and reciprocal actions. These processes are carried out between the various body systems that work together to keep the body functioning properly.

Overall health can be maintained only by ensuring a fine balance between the enzymes, hormones, and various other chemical compounds that are responsible for metabolic activity. Though the mammalian body has been designed to maintain this fine balance, some external or internal factors can disturb the balance causing ailments, diseases, and other conditions. These factors include trauma, disease, age, diet, or a change in the internal chemical environment.
Cushing’s disease in dogs is one such disorder that results in the over production of corticosteroids. It can be caused by an ACTH producing tumor in the pituitary gland or a corticosteroid-producing tumor in the adrenalin glands. In some cases, Cushing’s disease can also be caused by an over dosage of external synthetic corticosteroids.

Hyperadrenocorticism in a dog can cause overall health to rapidly deteriorate. It also affects the immune system significantly making it easy for various other infections to affect the dog.
Knowing the symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs helps in identifying the problem at an early stage. This may help in making the overall treatment a much easier process. The following are some of the signs to look for in your dog.

Cortisones weaken abdominal muscles. Therefore, the muscles lose the ability to hold the stomach in tight to the body. The obesity caused by a large hanging stomach is augmented by an enlarged liver. As the muscle mass shrinks, the limbs weaken. Towards the later stages of the disease, the legs become too weak to support the weight of the obese body.

Skin and hair problems
Excessive levels of corticosteroids affect overall skin health. The skin becomes thinner and is more prone to frequent abrasions, and recurrent infections. The thinning of the skin also causes significant and noticeable hair loss.

Increased appetite, drinking, and urination
There is a marked increase in appetite. The frequency of thirst and urination can frustrate extremely patient dog owners. Excessive urination makes dogs vulnerable to urinary tract infections. This can lead to further complications for the dog.

Energy loss
Cushing’s disease drains energy. Lethargy sets in and exercise becomes impossible. The lack of exercise also causes many behavioral problems like irritability, biting, and snapping.

Cushing’s disease is a serious condition for your pet. It has the potential to cause further ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions and diseases of the nervous system. Therefore, it is vital that you insist on full laboratory tests if you suspect that your dog may in fact have Cushing’s disease.



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