Addison’s Disease in Dogs

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Both humans and dogs alike can be affected by Addison’s disease. This disorder occurs when the adrenal glands cannot make enough hormones in order for normal endocrine function to take place. Located just above the kidneys, the adrenals glands make important glucocorticoids (such as cortisol) and mineralocorticoids (such as aldosterone). 

Causes 

When the adrenal glands do not produce enough, or produce too many or imbalanced amounts, of each substance then the electrolyte and metabolic balance can both become negatively affected. The mineralocorticoids are especially essential in the controlled production of potassium, salt, and water inside your dog’s body. 

This imbalance of hormone production may lead to serious cases of hypocortisolism, hypoadrenocorticism, adrenal insufficiency, or even death if left untreated for prolonged periods of time.

Symptoms

If your dog has any of the following symptoms and you suspect that he or she may have Addison's disease, please seek your veterinarian's consultation right away. Many of these symptoms listed here can be the result of, or can be the cause of, some very serious and fatal disorders.

Ranging anywhere on levels of severity, some of the most common symptoms of Addison's disease in dogs include:

  • Your dog seem weak and excessively tired or lethargic and may collapse or pass out
  • Your dog may vomit
  • Your dog has diarrhea or seems like he or she is constipated
  • Your dog may bite or scratch at his or her stomach as though it is in pain
  • Your dog could have an irregular heart rate or might appear to be going into shock
  • Your dog may have additional symptoms that are usually detected by a veterinarian (such as dehydration, slowed heart )
  • Other gastrointestinal or renal symptoms

Treatment

If your veterinarian runs the tests on your dog and discovers hyperadrenocorticism, he or she may want to prescribe a treatment of fludrocortisone (which goes by the trade name, Florinef) or a monthly injection of desoxycorticosterone pivalate, DOCP (which goes be the trade name Percorten-V or Zycortal) along with prednisone. Your dog's veterinarian will most likely also want to run regular blood work until he or she finds the right dose necessary for your dog's healthy balance. Be sure to give your dog plenty of water and potty breaks as these meds can often cause excessive thirst, and therefore excessive urination.

Natural Remedies

Natural remedies include decreasing your dog's exposure to stressful events or doing whatever you can to make events like traveling smoother (such as planning plenty of stops). Some other natural ways to decrease stress involve providing the best diet that your dog's veterinarian suggests, and giving your dog plenty of exercise or rest (depending on your dog's age, health, and his or her veterinarian's recommendation).