Detecting Cushing Disease in Dogs Through Blood Tests

Cushing's disease in dogs or "hyperadrenocorticism" is a condition that results from the chronic overproduction of glucocorticoid in the body. The disease typically shows up in dog's ages 10 years and older, with the majority of new cases appearing at age 10. Oddly enough, smaller breeds account for approximately 75% of all cases of Cushing's disease. Cushing's disease can cause everything from increased appetite to hair loss, and more serious symptoms such as blood clots. The key to successful treatment of Cushing's disease is early detection. Some of the most effective testing methods include: urinalysis, complete blood count, and blood chemistry panel.

Detecting Cushing's Disease: Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Blood Chemistry Panel

In addition to assessing your pet's symptoms, your vet will administer one of two types of blood tests. These include: Complete Blood Count (CBC) or Blood chemistry Panel. CBC determines the number of and types of blood cells present. Blood chemistry panel measures the amount of various enzymes, chemical compounds or electrolytes in the blood.

Detecting Cushing's Disease: Urinalysis

Using urinalysis as a detection method is effective for several reasons. It is easy to tell by the appearance of the urine if something is wrong. Telltale signs include an unusual color and cloudiness. Your vet will also perform a chemical analysis using a test-stick. In addition, abnormalities can be easily detected under a microscope.

Cushing Disease Treatment

Cushing's disease can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms such as increased urination (causes straining and accidents), increase in appetite (which can lead to weight gain), abdominal enlargement, hair loss, thin skin, increased water consumption, panting, and urinary tract infections. To spare your dog the suffering, take him to a vet as soon as you notice any change in his behavior or any of the symptoms listed above. Depending on whether the disease is pituitary dependent or adrenal-based, your vet will either perform surgery (if an adrenal tumor is present) or use non-surgical treatments such as oral medications. These may include: lysodren, L-deprenyl, trilostane, or ketoconazole, to name just a few. It is important to note that the pituitary type accounts for roughly 80% of all Cushing's disease cases.

Cushing's Disease Prognosis

With proper and prompt treatment, symptoms of Cushing's disease fully resolve within four to six months. Symptoms such as excessive drinking and frequent urination disappear almost immediately. Hair and coat conditions resulting from Cushing's will resolve closer to the six-month mark.