Cushing’s isn’t only for people. Your dog is also at risk! Part 3

This is part 3 of our in-depth look at Cushing’s Syndrome, a condition that affects many dogs around the world and is caused by an excess of cortisol in the system. For an explanation of what Cushing’s Syndrome actually is and how the condition can affect your dog you should check out part 1 of this series, published a couple of weeks ago.

Last week we talked about the various steps and tests your vet may use to diagnose Cushing’s. If you suspect that your dog has Cushing’s be sure to read the post to learn about the diagnostic process. This week we’re keen to talk about life after diagnosis, the treatments that are available and what kind of life your dog can enjoy.

The Outlook For Dogs with Cushing’s

Having Cushing’s isn’t ideal, but it isn’t the end of the world either.

Medication

Most dogs with Cushing’s syndrome are recommended lifelong medical treatment with Trilostan. It can take time to find the correct dose, which can vary greatly between dogs.

If you suspect your dog has Cushing’s, or if he/she has already been diagnosed with it, you need to be aware that your vet will need to take blood samples regularly to monitor the effect of the medication and avoid any side effects.

Pro Tip! It is common practice to perform an ACTH stimulation test to control the dose. However, studies have shown that measuring cortisol levels before administering the Trilostan, or three hours thereafter, are potentially better monitoring methods than the ACTH stimulation tests.

Too high a dose of the medicine may cause symptoms like:

  • – vomiting/diarrhea
  • – fatigue
  • – nausea
  • – decreased appetite

If you notice any of these symptoms during treatment, consult your veterinarian immediately.
It may indicate that the dose is too high and there is a risk that your dog might end up in an “Addison crisis” if it’s ignored.

Surgery

If the tumor is located in one of the adrenal glands, it may be removed surgically, however, this is an advanced surgery that carries a high risk of complications.

If the tumor is found in the pituitary gland, surgery may be considered if the tumor is pressing on the brain and causing problems. Operations for this type of condition are currently carried out only in the Netherlands. After surgery, medication will still be required throughout the life of your dog, and there will remain a risk of relapse.

Too high a dose of the medicine may cause symptoms like:

  • – vomiting/diarrhea
  • – fatigue
  • – nausea
  • – decreased appetite

If you notice any of these symptoms during treatment, consult your veterinarian immediately.
It may indicate that the dose is too high and there is a risk that your dog might end up in an “Addison crisis” if it’s ignored.

Iatrogenic Cushing’s

Iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome, caused by medication containing cortisone, usually resolves itself when the cortisone is discontinued.

What if I just ignore it?

If you love your pet this is not advised. If Cushing’s syndrome goes untreated it will gradually cause more severe symptoms, seriously affecting your dog’s quality of life in the process.

Available medical treatment will improve your dog’s symptoms, and with the correct dose the dog can go on to have a good quality of life. If the tumor is malignant, it can unfortunately spread to other organs to shorten the dog’s life.

Don’t forget to share this blog post with anyone you think will benefit from it. We publish a new blog post each week so follow us on social media for our updates and you’ll know as soon as a new one is available.

Until next time…

I’m a veterinarian with almost 10 years experience in small animal practice. I’m originally from Sweden but moved to Copenhagen to fulfill my dream of becoming a vet. I’ve been working in Denmark, United Kingdom and back home in Sweden. Animals, especially dogs, has always been a big part of my life. Being a vet and helping animals and their owners, feels more like a privilege than a job.
Alvin, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel follows me anywhere I go.

Caroline Edvinsson

DVM, GPCertSAM, CEO @ TERST
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