Cushing’s Syndrome

0 Comments Posted by tcahvet in Videos and More on Monday, August 3rd, 2015.


Cushing’s syndrome is when a dog’s body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol. This chemical helps them respond to stress, controls their weight, fights infections, and keeps their blood sugar levels in check. But too much or too little of it can cause problems.


The condition mostly affects middle-aged and older dogs.

You might notice your dog:

Is thirstier than usual
Seems hungrier
Pees more often. Housebroken dogs may have indoor accidents.
Loses hair or it seems slow to grow
Gets a pot belly
Has thinning skin
Seems very tired and inactive
Pants a lot
Gets skin infections

There are two major types of Cushing, Pituitary dependent and iatrogenic. Pituitary Cushing happens when  a tumor grows in a gland that is the size of a pea that rests in the brain. This is the most common, about 80% to 90% of the animals who have Cushing’s have this kind. The other 15% to 20% of diagnosed dogs  have iatrogenic Cushing. This type comes from a tumor in one of the glands that sit on top of the kidneys, called adrenal glands.

Getting Your Dog Diagnosed

There’s no method that’s 100% accurate for diagnosing Cushing’s, so the vet will do a few tests to see what may be causing your pet’s symptoms and to rule out other health problems.

Your vet will start by testing your dog’s blood and urine. These exams can detect high cholesterol, diluted urine, urinary tract infections, or problems with a protein mostly found in the liver and bones called alkaline phosphatase. All of these are common in animals with Cushing’s. If the results show signs of the condition, your vet will follow up with hormone screening tests by the name of ACTH. The ACTH stimulation test measures how well the adrenal glands work in response to a hormone, called ACTH, that usually prompts them to make cortisol. The vet will take blood samples before and after your dog gets a shot of ACTH to see how the hormone affected him. Your vet might also  do an ultrasound scan of the abdomen. This imaging test will help see if there’s a tumor on the adrenal glands which could affect the kind of treatment needed.


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