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Mira Mar Vet, your local vet in Albany

Could it be Cushing’s?

by | May 29, 2024 | Latest Monthly Newsletters, Pet Care

Have you heard of hyperadrenocorticism, commonly referred to as Cushing’s Disease**? This condition most commonly affects dogs and can impact their health and general quality of life.

Here’s what you should know about Cushing’s.

What is Cushing’s disease?

Cushing’s disease is a hormonal imbalance condition involving the excess production of cortisol (natural steroid) within the body.

Cushing’s disease can occur due to tumours of the adrenal glands (which produce cortisol) but is most commonly secondary to a pituitary gland tumour (which then results in excessive stimulating signals being sent to the adrenal glands). These tumours may be benign (unlikely to spread) or malignant (tending to spread aggressively).

What symptoms do pets with Cushing’s disease show?

Excessive levels of cortisol commonly cause symptoms such as:

  • Increased hunger
  • Increased drinking and urination

Many pets with Cushing’s will also develop:

  • Skin and hair changes, such as thin skin and a poor-quality coat
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting
  • A “pot-bellied” appearance
  • Recurrent skin or urinary tract infections
How can Cushing’s disease be diagnosed?

Routine blood tests may pick up “red flags” for Cushing’s, such as high levels of a liver enzyme called ALP. However, we may already suspect Cushing’s if the pet is showing typical symptoms, as listed above.

A definite diagnosis of Cushing’s disease usually involves a combination of:

  • An abnormal result on special blood tests that check your pet’s hormonal responses – these tests require your pet to have sequential blood samples taken over several hours
  • An abdominal ultrasound so we can check the appearance of your pet’s adrenal glands and liver
Can Cushing’s disease be treated?

The treatment of Cushing’s depends on the type of disease the pet has. However, most cases can be managed with regular medication.

If you would like to find out more about Cushing’s disease or general organ health screening for your pet, consult our team – we’re passionate about proactive health care for pets!

**Bonus fact: Cushing’s Disease has led to one of our favourite medical misnomers, often being mistakenly referred to as “Cushion’s Disease”!