Cushing’s disease in dogs, also known as HyperA or Hyperadenocorticism, is a relatively common hormonal disease of older dogs. It occurs rarely in cats. There are two main types of Cushing’s disease in dogs, pituitary-dependent and adrenal-dependent. In both types, the main cause of the clinical signs is too much cortisol production in the adrenal glands.
The clinical signs of Cushing’s disease in dogs are numerous and varied, some dogs only have one or two signs, others have many. This can sometimes make it hard to diagnose. Common signs are:
- Drinking and urinating increased amounts
- Increased appetite
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Thin haircoat
- Thinning skin, sometimes with firm areas of mineralisation
- Less commonly, shaking and muscle weakness or mental dullness
The clinical signs can be very subtle in the beginning and progress over weeks to months. It is a slow insidious disease.
There are other diseases that can cause similar signs, such as diabetes, low thyroid levels, liver disease or heart disease and so tests are required to differentiate between these diseases. Diagnosis of Cushing’s disease in dogs requires blood tests, often combined with an abdominal ultrasound. Treatment options vary and may include medications such as mitotane or trilostane. In some cases, surgery is an option. Our team of veterinary specialists at Centre for Animal Referral and Emergency have many years of experience in treating Cushing’s disease in dogs. In particular, Dr. Sophie Haynes, our internal medicine specialist, regularly deals with all types of endocrine diseases in dogs and cats.
With the right treatment and monitoring, the prognosis for Cushing’s disease is good, with many dogs living a good quality life for years.