Has your doggone been a little off lately? Nothing seems wrong, but your poor pet isn't exactly right, either. Vague, on-and-off symptoms such as eating and drinking less, sleeping more, and opting not to play aren't helpful with a diagnosis, which is why it's important to visit a vet. Your dog might be completely fine, just going through a cold, but they might also be suffering from potentially life-threatening Addison's disease, too.
If there was ever an advertisement for popping into the vet when things are just a little 'off', this is it. Sometimes, that appointment is the difference between life and being deaf.
Let's find out more.
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- What is Addison Disease in Dogs
- What is Atypical Addison Disease in Dogs
- Symptoms of Addison Disease in Dogs
- Treatment for Addison Disease in Dogs
- What Causes Addison Disease
- How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment
What is Addison Disease in Dogs
If you’ve noticed your dog acting a little sluggish now and then on the Petcube Cam, it might be time to get it checked out. Addison's disease, known medically as hypoadrenocorticism, is a medical condition that dogs, cats, humans, and other animals can suffer from. It affects the adrenal glands, which are responsible for making hormones that help to regulate salt levels and stress responses, prepare the body for action in a 'fight or flight' situation, control inflammation and hydration, and manage the balance of electrolytes.
The adrenal glands can be found close to the kidneys in dogs, and they're made up of two parts. The inner part called the adrenal gland, produces adrenaline, noradrenaline, and other catecholamines. The outer part is called the adrenal cortex, and it produces cortisol and other hormones that regulate, control, and balance.
Hypo is a prefix used when something is below, beneath, or less than. (The opposite is known as hyper.) Hypoadrenocorticism is when the adrenal glands produce smaller quantities of hormones than what is necessary — less than what is needed.
Thankfully, the condition is quite uncommon in dogs.
What is Atypical Addison Disease in Dogs
When the adrenal glands fail to produce both cortisol and aldosterone hormones in the right amounts, the pup has Addison's disease. This is the most common type in dogs.
If the adrenal glands only fail to produce adequate amounts of one hormone, cortisol, the pup has atypical Addison's disease.
Symptoms of Addison Disease in Dogs
The problem with Addison's disease in dogs is that there are often no symptoms whatsoever until hormones have reached critical, life-threatening low levels. The symptoms can also come and go, making it appear as if your dog had a short illness and recovered. And if things weren't difficult enough already, the symptoms are so vague that they can be attributed to hundreds of other medical conditions. For that reason, vets not-so-fondly refer to the condition as "the great pretender/imitator".
The on-and-off symptoms of Addison's disease in dogs can include:
- No interest in food or water;
- Drinking more water;
- Increased urination;
- Weight loss;
- Extreme tiredness;
- Skin color changes (hyperpigmentation);
- Nausea, heaving, and vomiting;
- Changes to heart rate;
- Weak pulse;
- Low body temperature;
- Shivering or shaking;
- Unusual feces: bloody, dark-colored;
- Fur loss;
- Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia);
- Urine changes, dry gums, and other symptoms associated with dehydration.
Many pet parents aren't aware that their pups are suffering from a progressive disease until the symptoms turn into very obvious, impossible-to-ignore, and frightening ones, such as fainting spells, collapsing, going into shock, and worse. When this happens, it is referred to as an acute stage of the disease and given the name Addisonian crisis.
Treatment for Addison Disease in Dogs
Vets will treat Addison's disease with management therapies, such as medication that supplements the body with whatever hormones the adrenal gland isn't producing. The condition can't be cured, but it can be successfully managed, often with a combination of drugs such as steroids and hormone replacement medications. Regular blood testing is necessary to keep hormone levels balanced, especially when stress levels are high.
If you take your pup to the vet in an Addisonian crisis, their condition will be stabilized before anything else happens. This can mean IV medications and fluids, with your pet staying in the hospital for however long is necessary.
What Causes Addison Disease
Although rare, your dog will be at a higher risk of suffering from Addison's disease if one or both parents have the condition. It is hereditary, but it can manifest as a result of bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, too. Adrenal gland cancer can also cause it, alongside ceasing long-term steroid use, restricted blood flow to the area, certain medications (such as mitotane), and incorrect or too-long use of medication for hyperadrenocorticism (the opposite issue).
Some breeds are more prone to suffering from Addison's disease. These include:
- Terriers: Wheaten and West Highland White;
- Great Danes;
- Poodles (standard);
- Bearded Collies;
- Portuguese water dogs.
The American Kennel Club research shows that the exact cause of doggy Addison's disease remains unknown in many cases.
How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment
Petcube's Emergency Fund was designed for collapsing, breathing difficulties, and other life-threatening crises, providing up to $3,000 of emergency care when you need it the most. You'll also unlock access to a team of fully qualified and licensed veterinarians, available at the touch of a button on your cell phone at any time of the day or night.
The last thing you need in a stressful situation is more stress, so Petcube keeps things simple: $29 per month, no deductibles, no admin fees, and no hidden costs.
You (yes, you) will also get an exclusive 27% off just for stopping by today. Just follow this link to learn more.
Is Addison's Disease in Dogs Genetic?
Addison's disease is genetic in the sense that it can be passed down from parent to pup (hereditary), but the condition can also appear later in life for various reasons.
Can You Cure Addison's Disease with Diet?
No; Addison's disease is incurable. Treatment consists of long-term management therapies, regular medication reviews, and medication changes. You cannot cure it with diet, medication, or holistic therapies.
Although Addison’s disease in dogs is not curable, it is manageable, but you must take your pet to the vet before any kind of treatment can be administered. As a pet parent, you know those four-legged furballs more than anyone else, so you should be able to pick up on the ‘vibes’ when things just aren’t right.
When they’re not right, they’re not right. Right?
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