Being a proud parent to a dog is a truly fulfilling experience as they end up becoming an essential part of your family. And just as you care for your family members, a dog needs similar attention when it comes to its health and overall needs. This means that you need to watch out for patterns and behaviors, and any time your dog starts to behave differently, you need to take it to the vet for a checkup. While regular checkups are essential to making sure your dog stays healthy, there are increased chances of contracting illnesses that require extra care and attention as they get older. One such disease found commonly in dogs is Cushing’s disease or Cushing’s syndrome.
Cushing’s disease is commonly found in middle aged or older dogs, making them over produce a steroid hormone called cortisol. This hormone’s production is controlled by the adrenal gland and the pituitary system, so a malfunction in either of the two could result in this disease. If not diagnosed in time or treated properly, this disease can be fatal for dogs, which is why it is essential to know how to care for a dog that has been diagnosed with Cushing’s.
Has your fur baby been diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, and you want to learn about the treatment options? Don’t worry, we have everything you need right here. This article will walk you through what Cushing’s disease is and what treatment options can help your dog navigate through the disease.
What Is Cushing’s Disease And What Are The Symptoms To Look Out For
The first step in treating Cushing’s disease in dogs is knowing what exactly it is, what signs to look out for, and how to diagnose it in time.
Cushing’s disease, or medically known as hyperadrenocorticism, is an endocrine disease in which the dog’s body produces cortisol, a stress hormone, a lot more than the normal ranges. Hormones are produced in normal quantities by the adrenal gland found next to a dog’s kidney. When it needs to produce cortisol, it sends a message to the pituitary gland, which is found at the base of the dog’s brain. If either of these two sites is facing a problem such as a tumor or growth, then the hormone production goes into overdrive and upsets the entire system. While tumors on the adrenal or pituitary gland may cause Cushing’s, it could also be the result of prolonged use of steroids.
One of the main challenges of diagnosing Cushing’s is that the symptoms are often mild and could be confused as the general signs of aging. But there are some common symptoms that your dog may start exhibiting, which should alert you. These included excessive urination and thirst. If your dog is drinking more water than usual and wants to suddenly leave the house to urinate more often during the day and night, you should inform your vet. Other signs to watch out for include increased appetite, weight gain, panting, hair loss, and swelling in the belly area. You may also notice your dog becoming more sluggish than usual. If these symptoms sound familiar, don’t delay your dog’s visit to the vet and request them to run blood, urine, and other tests that can help identify the problem.
Once they make the diagnosis, here are some treatment options to consider
Because more and more dog owners are turning towards alternative medicine and natural remedies for their dogs, let’s first discuss the different dog Cushings disease natural treatment options available. This could include a holistic health regime that includes a combination of natural herbs and supplements administered to the dog to help combat the disease’s symptoms and side effects. Because the disease cannot be cured completely, it is often preferred that instead of long term traditional medication, natural herbs maintain the overall functioning of a dog’s body to keep it healthy and happy. Some herbs recommended to be used are dandelion, which is known to support healthy adrenal function and burdock which is good for detoxification.
Conventional Oral Medication
If you want to go for a more conventional approach, you can go for oral medications prescribed by veterinarians. These medicines are often the approach if your dog has been diagnosed for pituitary dependant Cushing’s disease and can be administered to combat the symptoms. The two commonly prescribed oral medicines are Trilostane and Mitotane. Mitotane is a conventional drug that has been used over the years as a treatment for Cushing’s disease in dogs. For the induction phase or the initial phase, the medicine is given in greater quantity and frequency and reduced as time passes. Be very careful with this type of medication as it can result in some severe side effects in dogs. Trilostane is a relatively newer medicine and does not cause such side effects; however, it is more expensive.
Surgery and Radiation
If Cushing’s is because of a tumorous growth on the adrenal and pituitary gland, the best course of action is to remove the growth altogether. This will even prevent the tumor from spreading to other parts of the body. However, if the growth is too small, it can also be treated using targeted medication and even radiation in some cases. Your dog will have to undergo a scan to determine the nature and location of the tumor. Medicine is prescribed before the treatment to reduce the body’s hormone levels before going in to remove parts of the glands that have been affected. Surgical intervention usually nips the problem in the bud and very rarely is any other form of medication required.
Caring for an aging dog can sometimes feel like a full-time job, but it is a rewarding experience to ensure that they are spending their lives feeling loved and cared for. While Cushing’s disease can come off as a scary diagnosis, you should take a deep breath and think ahead of the next steps in treatment we have just spoken of. Based on your dog’s condition and what the vet tells you to do, you can opt for the one you think will be the best.
Do you have a dog that is living with Cushing’s disease? Do you have any tips on how to care for it better? Let us know in the comment section below.