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Dog addisons disease

Dog Addison's Disease

Addison’s disease in dogs is rare and can occur in any breed of dog though it usually affects young females or middle aged ones.

30 % of dogs affected are mixed breed ones. It occurs when the adrenal glands do not function properly. When the body is functioning properly the pituitary gland produces the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ATCH) which tells the adrenal glands to produce glucocorticoid (Cortison or Cortisol). A dog suffering from Addison’s is deficient in glucocorticoid steroid and/or mineralocorticoid.

The mineralcorticoid is required to regulate the electrolytes and the body’s water. Cortisol which increases fat production, decreases the number of white blood cells, reduces inflammatory reactions and suppresses the immune system. It tells the body how to react to stress and helps the dog maintain a healthy metabolism. When the gland is infected or injured it does not produce these hormones.

Canine Addison's Disease Diagnosis, Treatments

The disease is diagnosed after a series of blood tests. The blood test will show a deficiency of cortisol. Results will also show a low sodium level, high potassium level and high kidney enzymes. The dog will need to undergo an ACTH blood test and will be injected with ACTH. A dog suffering from Addison’s will not respond to this by an increase in the serum cortisol level. Treatment for Addison’s disease in dogs depends on how far the disease has progressed and on the dog. It consists of replacing the mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid steroids. Medication may include injections, prednisone tablets or other prescription drugs like Percorten-V or Florinef (mineralocorticoid). The dog will be tested periodically to determine the right combination of drugs and dosages. It is essential that the drugs are given as prescribed.

The diseases progresses very slowly and generally goes unnoticed in the early stages. Symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs are similar to other diseases. They include hypothermia, decreased heart rate, weakness, vomiting, trembling, dehydration, anorexia, diarrhea, hair loss, painful tummy, bloody stools, muscle tremors, sudden hind quarter weakness, lethargy, depression, drinking more and urinating more. The dog is sometimes brought in during an Addison crisis - where it may be in a state of shock and acute collapse.

No one really knows the cause of Addison’s disease in dogs. Some causes are linked to fungal infections, cancer, trauma and heredity. It may also result from steroid medications and adrenal gland diseases. However, when properly treated, the prognosis of Addison’s disease is excellent. Once treated, the dog can lead a normal enjoyable life.

  Submitted on May 30, 2010  

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