Every year around 100,000 dogs are diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease.. That’s a BIG number. Many people with pets have never even heard of the condition.
This syndrome can be caused by the excessive use of cortisol-type medications. in addition the condition can be triggered from a natural spike in the body’s production of Cortisol.
In dogs, most cases of elevated Cortisol are caused by a benign tumors. These tumors can grow near the pituitary or adrenal gland ….resulting in the increase of Cortisol to abnormally high levels.
Irregular adrenal function can go the other way too. Lowered hormone levels in the adrenals results in Addison’s disease which is a result in lowered cortisol levels and lack or hormones…equally dangerous.
Surgery is the one sure cure for Cushing’s disease in dogs… when the cause is from a tumor
Without surgery your dog can life a happy life…especially is you are able to properly management their symptoms.
The pituitary gland, located in the dog’s brain… is the most common place for these tumors Typically this location rules out surgery….because the cost is outrageous…and is a high health risk to your pet. Same with adrenal gland surgery,,,,just too dangerous.
Pressure caused by the tumors… over-stimulates the gland… in the end, the result is overproduction of Cortisol. This elevated level of Cortisol….causes the disease and its symptoms.
The most rewarding path for you… as a pet parent… will be to manage your pet’s symptoms. You can find success in exploring natural homeopathic treatments….ones that help relieve your dogs discomfort…regulate the cortisol… and assist in alleviating the ill-effects of the condition.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dog
The most common symptoms of Cushing’s Disease include:
Excessive water drinking – Excessive thirst cause by (PD) Polydypsia
Insatiable Appetite – Hormonal imbalance results in no “off switch” for appetite. This also can lead to your dog getting into the trash… or adventures in “counter-surfing”. I often make my own healthy dog food… because this help offsets some of this nutritional imbalance.
Heavy Panting – This goes beyond the normal panting dogs do… to stay cool or relieve stress. The non-stop painting can be quite extreme and seemingly never-ending. Almost like doggy hot-flashes.
Big Belly – Over abundance of Cortisol weakens muscles. It also creates more fat on your dogs internal cavity. That what leads to a protruding belly in dogs with the disease.
Thin Coat and Skin Problems – This disease may leave your dog with a dull or dry coat, bald spots, or hair loss. The syndrome also affects your pets skin… causing them to bruise easily and heal slower. It’s common for them to develop wrinkles and folds in their skin…and to develop muscle atrophy .
Which dogs are at risk?
Cushing’s disease is most commonly found in middle- aged dogs aged 6 years and older. Specific dogs breeds that appear to be more at risk:
- Australian Shepherd
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Cocker Spaniel
Tumors near the adrenal and pituitary glands… are the leading cause to trigger Cushing’s Disease. If your dog suffers from this illness and is on Cortisone… that drug may be the reason.
You may wish to consult a holistic veterinarian to discuss other treatments.
Treatment options other than surgery.
Cushing’s disease is an assault on your dogs immune system. You will need to monitor your pets health. It’s time to start thinking about all the remedies available because you’ll want to help relieve their discomfort and symptoms.
Other than surgery….you can opt for prescription medication or other all- natural holistic treatment methods.
Most vets will suggest some form of prescription medicine. Keep in mind, drugs often come with some pretty bad side-effects. Many of these side-effect are unknown and can show up after long-term use.
Treatment Drugs – These are toxic chemicals
These chemical drugs have been shown to be an effective non-surgical treatments for dogs. But keep in mind that they are synthetic toxic drugs.
Your veterinarian may Mitotane. This oral medication is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments. Its works by destroying adrenal gland cells which produce cortisol.
Trilostane…is an enzyme inhibitor…. acting as a blocker of cortisol in the adrenal gland. It’s been noted by some vets… that long-term use of corticosteroid drugs can cause a rebound effect… with cortisol production increasing in the adrenal gland.
Alternative treatments – Holistic Approach
Holistic medicine conjures up a “hocus-pocus” idea for some people. This philosophical approach is pretty straight-forward. Simply holistic medicine centers on treating the whole body.
Often, conventional medicine treat the symptoms and not the problem.
Our internal systems are inter-connected. When our dog has a medical issue…there can be multiple things going on in our body.
A holistic treatment will address the hormone imbalance with natural substances. The goal is lower the cortisol level and return balance to your dogs system
In holistic veterinarian care... the focus is on minimal invasiveness and empathy for the animal. Holistic veterinarian care has become more mainstream and acceptable…so don’t be afraid to try these methods.
Homeopathy – Helping your dog heal himself
Homeopathy is a medical system…. based on the belief that the body can cure itself.
Homeopaths use tiny amounts of natural substances... such as herbs, plants, and minerals to stimulate a natural healing process.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in dogs (and people)….and is widely used for treating symptoms of Cushing’s in dogs. Read more about melatonin for your dog here.
Melatonin for dogs now comes in a beefy chew …. which makes it easier to administer. Melatonin is now a common all-natural treatment for numerous dog conditions… when you have a desire to stay away from prescription drug treatments.
If you decide to take an alternative approach to conventional medicine… you can explore holistic forms of treatment. All natural treatments are herbal based… and target the adrenal glands and their functions. The goals is to normalize their hormone production… because this will help re-establish normal balance.
It’s a priority to feed you dog a well-balanced diet to insure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Homeopathic treatments can be effective and some beneficial herbs include…Turmeric, kelp, nettle, burdock, rose hips, ….clover, milk thistle, wormwood… and apple cider vinegar (organic with “mother”).
Adrenal Glands and Cushing’s treatment
Adrenal glands are vital players in the overall health of your pet. Located on top of each kidney… these glands regulate many of your dogs physiological systems.
The pituitary and hypothalamus glands fire off messages to the adrenals…. to secrete specific amounts of needed hormones to maintain equilibrium in your dog.
Holistic adrenal gland treatments are a therapeutic option that support the adrenals functions… because they help the body produce normal healthy levels of cortisol.
Healthy adrenal functions are key to responding to stress and inflammation. In addition, they also are major factors in regulating water and electrolyte levels.
Adrenals also produce hormones responsible for regulating blood sugar levels… which trigger appetite.
If your pet is already on other medications… its advisable to consult your veterinarian… before adding herbal products to a daily regimen. You want to avoid any possible side effects from combining treatments.
Is Cushing’s Disease fatal?
Pet’s diagnosed with Cushing disease usually won’t die from the syndrome.
That’s good news!
Untreated dogs with Cushing’s live just as long as treated dogs. Your dog will suffer more side effects if left untreated though.
If you notice that your pooch shows signs of Cushing’s…. have your vet test for the disease. Get the info so you can make an educated decision on what to do next.
Which hormones are elevated?…more importantly….what options does your vet suggest?
Finally, do they offer natural “alternative” treatment methods?
If you want more information on an integrative medicine approach….one that uses conventional and alternative medicine….for a holistic approach… you can find out more with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
They can help you find a Holistic Veterinarian near you.
If I can answer any questions or be a resource….please leave a note in the comment section below. Good luck!