Canine Cushings Disease Prognosis

Canine Cushing's disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, occurs when the pet's body produces abnormally high amounts of glucocorticoid hormones. Although these hormones are necessary for the proper functioning of the body, overproduction leads to Cushing's disease. Since the production of these hormones is guided by the production of the ACTH hormone released by the pituitary gland, any abnormalities of the pituitary gland can lead to elevated levels of glucocoticoids in the pet's body.

Different Forms of Cushing's Disease

The two types or forms of Cushing's disease that are seen in pets include adrenal-based hyperadrenocorticism and pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism. Pets generally develop the adrenal type when there's a tumor present in the adrenal gland. Similarly, the pituitary dependent form of the condition develops when there's a tumor present in the pituitary gland. Most pets develop the pituitary form of Cushing's disease.

Treatment of Cushing's Disease

In order to initiate treatment, the vet will first perform a series of diagnostic tests to determine the type and severity of the disease present. Some of these tests include the ACTH stimulation test, the dexamethasone suppression test and an abdominal ultrasound. There are several treatment options for pets suffering from Cushing's disease and surgery is performed if the dog is suffering from a tumor.

In most cases the disease can be controlled with the administration of oral medicines. Some of these medicines include Lysodren, Ketoconazole, Trilostane and L-deprenyl. While most pets respond favorably to oral medications, the prognosis varies for each pet.

Prognosis of Cushing's Disease in Dogs

If the disease is not treated in time it will progress and cause the dog a lot of discomfort. Since some of the drugs used to treat the disease reduce the production of cortisol in the pet's body, they prevent the dog from developing any immunosuppressive diseases. If treatment is initiated promptly, the pet will recover within four to six months. The symptoms of excess urination and thirst will also subside.

The prognosis is not good if the pet develops underlying ailments like arthritis or allergic reactions. The pet may also be at risk of developing a pituitary tumor if he is administered drugs to reduce excess amounts of cortisol in the body. If the pet develops a pituitary tumor, he may require surgery and medications to increase his chance of survival.

Tips for Pet Owners:

  • Make sure you make note of any symptoms of Cushing's disease and seek medical help at the earliest.
  • Get the pet examined by a certified vet who will confirm the type of Cushing's disease your pet is suffering from.
  • Administer all prescribed medications on time and keep the vet informed if the dog develops any adverse reactions.
  • You will have to work closely with the vet to cure the dog. Followup vet checks are a must.
  • Since the dosage needs to be altered in some cases, monitor the dog while administering medications and seek prompt medical care if the pet's condition worsens.

Since there is no known cure for Cushing's disease, the dog may require medication for life. If the dog receives the correct treatment, he won't experience any discomfort and it will increase his quality of life.