Canine Addison's Disease Types: Primary, Secondary and Atypical

Canine Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce proper levels of steroids called glucocorticoids (cortisol) and mineralocorticoids (aldosterone).

Mineralocorticoids maintain the body's potassium and sodium balance. Glucocorticoids aid in regulating a dog's blood pressure, stimulate the metabolism and help maintaining a calm state.

Addison's disease comes in three forms: primary, secondary and atypical. Secondary and atypical forms tend to be very close in nature, so they share a common treatment.

Common Symptoms of Canine Addison's Disease

A dog with Addison's disease is generally no older than five years of age. Original symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Eventually, the dog's blood chemistry changes and sugar levels drop causing the animal to collapse. Untreated dogs may develop heart arrhythmias.

Primary Addison's Disease

With primary Addison's disease, the dog's adrenal glands fail to produce enough of both hormones. Research proves the disease starts after the immune system attacks the adrenal gland's tissue. If your dog has the primary form of Addison's disease, your veterinarian will prescribe either Florinef or Percoten-V.

Secondary and Atypical Addison's Disease

The secondary and atypical forms of canine Addison's disease finds the dog's adrenal glands producing adequate levels of aldosterone, but not enough cortisol. Typically, these forms occur due to pituitary gland malfunction. Dogs diagnosed with the secondary or atypical forms manage their disease with a low-dose prescription for glucocorticoid.