Cushing’s Disease in dogs – An Overview

Cushing’s Disease is a prevalent disease affecting dogs and can be challenging to diagnose and manage. It is caused when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, leading to various symptoms. These include increased thirst, urination, appetite, skin changes, hair loss, joint pain, and more. If your dog has been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease or you suspect it may have it, this article is for you. Read on to find out more about Cushing’s Disease in dogs.

What is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s Disease is a condition that results from the overproduction of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that regulates many body processes, including metabolism and the immune system. In dogs, Cushing’s Disease typically occurs when a pituitary gland tumor controls cortisol production.

The most common symptoms of Cushing’s Disease include increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, panting, hair loss, and lethargy. If left untreated, Cushing’s Disease can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and bone density loss. Treatment for Cushing’s Disease typically involves medication to control the production of cortisol. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to remove the tumor on the pituitary gland.

How is Cushing’s Disease diagnosed?

A veterinarian will ask about the dog’s medical history and perform a physical examination. The dog’s body weight, appetite, water intake, urination frequency, skin condition, haircoat quality and length, and overall energy level will be noted. You can observe some abnormalities such as a pot-bellied appearance, thinning hair coat with bald patches, excessive thirst and urination, weakness, lethargy, or behavioral changes in the dog.

The veterinarian will palpate (feel) the dog’s abdomen to check for an enlarged liver or spleen. If the dog has Cushing’s Disease, the adrenal glands are usually enlarged and can often be felt just behind the kidneys. Radiographs (X-rays) may be taken of the abdomen to evaluate organ size and position and to look for any evidence of metastatic Disease (cancer that has spread from another location).

A complete blood count (CBC) is often performed along with a serum biochemistry profile and urinalysis as part of routine screening for Cushing’s Disease. The CBC may reveal low red blood cell counts (anemia), low white blood cell counts (leukopenia), or high platelet counts (thrombocytosis). The serum biochemistry profile may show increased levels of glucose (hyperglycemia), cholesterol, and triglycerides. Increased alkaline phosphatase levels (ALP) or liver enzymes may indicate liver damage.

What are the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s Disease is a condition that results in the overproduction of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone necessary for many bodily functions, but too much of it can cause various problems. Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in dogs include increased thirst and urination, appetite, panting, hair loss, and thinning skin. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it is important to take them to the vet for an examination.

Cushing’s Disease Treatment

The most popular form of treatment for Cushing’s disease is medication. The most common type of medication used to treat Cushing’s Disease is Trilostane (Vetoryl), which inhibits the production of cortisol. Trilostane is normally administered once daily, with the amount changed according to how each dog responds. Other medications used to treat Cushing’s Disease include mitotane, lysodren, and ketoconazole. In some circumstances, surgery may be advised to remove the tumor causing Cushing’s disease.

How long will a dog live with Cushing’s Disease?

Although Cushing’s Disease can affect dogs of any age, it is most frequently observed in middle-aged or older canines. The average life expectancy for a dog with Cushing’s Disease is about six years, although some dogs may live much longer with proper treatment.

Cushing’s Disease occurs when the body produces too much of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a normal hormone that helps the body to regulate blood sugar levels, metabolism, and immunity. However, too much cortisol in the bloodstream can lead to several health problems, including Cushing’s Disease.

Cushing’s disease symptoms include increased thirst and urination, appetite, panting, hair loss, and lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important to take them to the vet for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for prolonging your dog’s life with Cushing’s Disease.

What are the final stages of Cushing’s Disease in dogs?

Loss of muscle mass and a decline in bone density are the hallmarks of Cushing’s Disease in dogs’ advanced stages. The dog may also experience an increase in thirst and urination, as well as a decrease in appetite. In extreme cases, the dog may develop heart failure or liver failure.


Cushing’s Disease in dogs is a serious condition that can cause long-term damage and even death if left untreated. It’s crucial to understand the causes, signs, and symptoms of this condition so that you can take your pet to the doctor if necessary. You can efficiently treat Cushing’s disease in dogs with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment strategy, enabling them to live longer and in better condition.

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