Cushings Disease

My dog has Cushings Disease – what does this mean?

Cushings disease is also known as hyperadrenocorticism. This is when there is too much stress steroid hormone ‘cortisol’ produced by the body. This can be due to a small tumour in the brain (these are usually tiny and benign) or a tumour on the adrenal gland.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary between each individual but common symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Excessive hunger
  • Bald patches developing
  • Pot bellied
  • Thin skin
  • Panting more than usual

If your vet is suspicious of Cushings disease, they may suggest a series of tests. There is not one test that is 100% accurate or conclusive to diagnose Cushings, but a range of tests may help increase our suspicion of it to be able to initiate treatment.

Tests may include:

  • Haematology and biochemistry blood test
  • Urine tests
  • Low dose dexamethasone suppression blood test
  • ACTH stimulation blood test
  • Abdominal ultrasound

Is there a treatment?

Yes, there is! Most cases can be treated with long-term medication called ‘Vetoryl’ or ‘Trilostane’ to control the steroid production. Vetoryl can vary in terms in cost depending on what dose your pet needs but this can be between £100-200 per month.

Medical treatment needs close monitoring to ensure we are giving the correct dose of medication to control the disease. Your vet will recommend blood tests and a check-up monthly to begin with, then every 3 months afterwards.

This may include a full health screen on occasion to ensure everything is ok but will also include a ‘Pre-Vetoryl cortisol’ blood test. This blood test needs to be taken within 1-2 hours prior to your pets daily ‘Vetoryl’ dose.

There is also a possibility to surgically remove the tumours at a specialist referral centre. This is expensive and can hold some surgical risk.

You can monitor your pet’s response to treatment by observing them for new or changing symptoms and in particular, their thirst and urination levels.

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