Hyperadrenocorticism is the medical term for Dog Cushings Disease or Cushing’s syndrome. It is the result of too much cortisol production by the adrenal gland. It is a rare disease in dogs and is often linked with Dog Diabetes mellitus.
Veterinary Induced: this is the result of too many steroids being prescribed.
Adrenal tumors: almost 50% of all Dog Adrenal Gland Tumor are malignant. What happens with Cushing’s Disease is that the adrenal glands tend to ignore the signals of one hormone, ACTH, and then proceed to begin production of corticosteroids.
Pituitary tumor: These micro sized tumors lead to the increase production of ACTH. This in turn signals the adrenal glands and they produce too much cortisol which leads to Cushing’s Syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms
In dogs the symptoms may appear slowly. They start with Dog Increased Urination and Dog Increased Thirst. They may also have Dog Lethargy and usually have Dog Swollen Abdomen or enlarged abdomens. There will also be a noticeable change in your dog’s coat, especially in areas that have been shaved. Their hair will grow back very slowly.
A complete medical history is obtained. If your dog has been on corticosteroids for a prolonged period of time and if other symptoms are present, a preliminary diagnosis will be made upon completion of a physical examination.
Laboratory tests will be performed. Complete blood workups including biochemistry and ACTH stimulation may be done.
X-rays of the abdomen will indicate noticeable masses. Ultrasound is generally not the first choice of examination in the diagnosing process for Cushing’s.
If the condition has been the result of prolonged corticosteroids, they may be slowly withdrawn.
Treatment will depend on the history, exam and lab tests. Usually PDH, pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism, is not treated surgically, although it can be done in some instances.
For ADH, adrenal dependent hyperadrenocorticism the removal of adrenal glands is the preferred treatment. Recent advances in this type of surgery have led to increased success and lower mortality rates. Dexamethasone will probably be administered during surgery and post operatively as well. Lab tests will be performed the following day to determine the interaction of the pituitary and adrenal glands. There should be marked improvement, which will indicate a successful procedure.
Medications have the ability to control the disease for a number of years. If hyperadrenocorticism is left untreated it will progress and the outcome is very poor.
After surgery, the results of the studies that will be performed by your vet will determine the immediate prognosis. If the laboratory tests come back in a good state, the results are excellent for recovery.
If on the other hand, the lab results are not within normal limits, it may be necessary to begin chemotherapy.
Dogs who have malignant adrenal lesions can still have a positive outcome if the malignancy has not metastasized. If the malignancy is large or has metastasized, the prognosis is poor.