You may have heard of Cushing’s Disease, which is the result of overproduction of Cortisol in people and pets – especially dogs.
Addison’s Disease (hyoadrenocorticism) occurs far less often than Cushing’s…and is the opposite condition…meaning…it’s caused by the LOWER than normal production of hormones, such as Cortisol.
Both of these diseases can develop from the adrenals (or pituitary gland) not functioning properly.
The adrenals are small glands located near the kidneys.
The hormones they produce are responsible for regulating much of the bodies internal function.
These hormones control sugar, salt, and water balance in the body…and are crucial for proper stress management in your pet.
There are actually three types of Addison’s disease – primary, secondary, and atypical. Most times both outer and middle layers of the adrenals under-produce hormones which lead to primary AD. Atypical AD is when the middle layer fails and secondary AD results from pituitary gland failure which acts on the adrenals.
Symptoms of Addison’s Disease
Symptoms can pop up suddenly and can appear severe at times. Addison’s often goes misdiagnosed as kidney failure and is known as the great imitator for this reason.
- Weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, or lethargy
- Lack of appetite
- Increased thirst
- Increased urine production
When your dog is stressed – normal adrenal glands produce more cortisol (hormone) which helps them deal with that stress factor. Dog’s with Addison’s disease Can’t make enough cortisol they are unable to deal with stress. Changes in their daily routine, house guests or the introduction of new animals to the household, trips to vet or groomer are all stressful to your pet.
These stress factors can increase the signs and symptoms of Addison’s.
If symptoms are sudden and severe, the situation is called an Addisonian crisis. Under stressful conditions a dog may literally collapse from shock as a result of an electrolyte imbalance and the rapid change to their metabolism.
Is Your Dog At Risk?
It’s estimated that between 70-80% of dogs with Addison’s are female between the ages of 4 and 7.
Certain breeds have been recorded to be more prone to the disease and include:
- Great Danes
- Labrador Retrievers
- Portuguese Water Spaniels
- Poodles (Standard)
The genetic history of your pet may be a contributing factor but its highly likely other things play a role in the development of this disease. Other possible suspects include:
- Processed Food – Preservative, starches, and wheat gluten trigger nutritional imbalances and add to toxin build-up.
- Over-vaccination – excessive vaccinations throws the immune system out of alignment which causes dysfunction in the other system in the body. Known to be a catalyst for creating antibodies against its own tissues. Adrenal and pituitary glands are particularly vulnerable.
- Deficient nutrition – a diet short on probiotics, minerals, vitamins, and omega oils impact proper functioning of cells, gland, and organs.
- Stress or Trauma – abuse, abandonment, or fearful situations can predispose endocrine system dysfunction in your dog.
Examination and Diagnosis
Examinations include observation (depression, weakness, dehydration, weak pulse or irregular heartbeat. Routine Lab tests for blood and urine usually reveal things such as changes in white blood cells and increase in potassium in the blood.
Severe dehydration increase waste products in your dog’s blood which overworks the kidneys. That primarily why Addison’s disease if often confused with kidney disease.
Conventional Treatment for Addison’s Disease
Basically conventional veterinary care consists of two stages of treatment for Addison’s Disease. For starters…step one is In-hospital treatment, which may include IV fluids and drugs similar to cortisol. Additional drugs to neutralize effects of potassium in the heart may also be recommended.
The second stage is…long term treatment involves a semi-frequent administration of hormones. These can be given to your dog with a daily pill or by shot about every 25 days. Symptoms may go away for a while whether you treat your dog or not. Either way, there is no cure for the disease...so this treatment would be for the rest of their life most likely.
Home Remedies for Addison’s Disease
This disease should not be taken likely so be sure to see your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and definitely before you start a herbal treatment method.
DIET- Holistic vets suggest that the modern dog doesn’t get enough glandular tissue in their diet – leading them to be more prone to autoimmune disease. You may wish to small amounts of liver and kidneys to your dog with their meals.
HERBS – There are quite few herbs that are known to be beneficial to proper adrenal functions. Spirulina (blue-green algae), Parsley, Dandelion, Nettle, and Milk Thistle can all be feed to your dog with Addison’s disease.
Turmeric (Curcumin) will also boost a dog’s immune system.
Borage and Licorice root extract are also recommended herbs as a supplement. Not licorice the candy.
There are many herbal supplements that combine some of these items together in one dosage that you can give by drops or capsules
SUPPLEMENTS – Essential Fatty Acids and other natural antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, and E also are a benefit to Dog’s with Addison’s disease.
Essential Fatty Acids include- fish oil, cod liver oil, and sardine oil are all rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Hempseed oil and flax seed are two more options.
Long Term Prognosis for Your Dog With Addison’s Disease
Most doggy patients with Addison’s Disease end up with a very good prognosis once the condition is identified and properly diagnosed. Once your dog has been stabilized you can then explore long-term care and maintenance for your pet.
This is definitely a disease in which you need expert advice from your vet to properly care for your dog.
Changing your dogs diet and adding supplements, herbs, and essential fatty acids will help keep your dogs body in balance.
And that is what true health is anyway.
Please leave your questions,comments, or share personal experiences with Addison’s disease or Cushing’s disease n your pet below.
We appreciate any feedback that other pet parents will find useful!