Is Phosphatidylserine Safe For Cushing’s Dogs?

What is Phosphatidylserine?

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a lipid compound called a phospholipid that covers and protects cells. Produced both naturally in the body and in foods or plants, you can find PS as a human supplement that promotes brain health and cell function. Lately, it’s been looked at for properties that could impact dogs with Cushing’s disease.

Phosphatidylserine and Cushing’s Disease

So, is Phosphatidylserine safe for Cushings dogs? A study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that “PS supplementation promotes a desired hormonal status for athletes by blunting increases in cortisol levels.” The impact of this for Cushing’s disease in dogs is something startling. PS can potentially help slow the production of ACHT, the chemical that makes the adrenal gland produce corticosteroids. For a Cushing’s dog, overproduction of corticosteroids is the root problem. Blunting ACHT production means addressing the root cause of the disease.

Using Phosphatidylserine for Cushing’s

With the move towards holistic care for both humans and pets, many pet parents are turning to new options instead of the long-touted chemo drugs given to relieve Cushing’s disease in dogs. A natural supplement can address Cushing’s symptoms with little to no side effects using elements like PS, melatonin, and HMR lignans. Combining these three natural compounds creates a healing triangle that addresses the steroid overproduction in Cushing’s dog. PS is an integral part of this. Phosphatidylserine has been shown to increase the absorption of melatonin, which can also work to stop overproduction of corticosteroids.

Sources of supplemental Phosphatidylserine once came from bovine sources. However, concerns about diseases like mad cow in the 1990’s prompted a new way to harvest the phospholipid compound. New sources of PS are soy derived, according to PubChem, a research directory produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

By reducing the production of ACTH in a dog’s body through Phosphatidylserine, you reduce the production of corticosteroids in a different but complimentary way than from how lignans and melatonin work (by interfering with the “ingredients” that the dog’s body uses to make corticosteroids), thus increasing the benefit. PS decreases both the demand for corticosteroids and a dog’s ability to make them.

Phosphatidylserine in Cushing’s Supplements for Dogs

Many dogs suffering from Cushing’s symptoms can find relief through a nutraceutical, or natural supplement. Naturally-occurring compounds can effectively blunt corticosteroids without the use of side-effect laden chemo drugs.

One supplement, a nutraceutical named CushAway addresses the PS findings in a new way. While HMR lignans and melatonin are more common in nutraceuticals for Cushing’s dogs, the addition of Phosphatidylserine to CushAway’s formula is unique. This natural element works complimentary to the lignans and melatonin to halt corticosteroid production. Not only is Phosphatidylserine safe for Cushings dogs, it’s proven quite beneficial.

CushAway was developed in the wake of a beloved pet’s passing. After years of refining, CushAway serves the pet community in helping pet parents find a natural choice for Cushing’s symptoms. While the disease can never truly be “cured,” many have found relief for their fur babies.

Owner of All Those Left Behind Pet Rescue, Gina Bartucci, used CushAway to help her Cushing’s dogs. “Thanks to the CushAway, we saw a night and day difference,” Bartucci shared. She had been on a Cushing’s journey with her own fur baby, Oz, and turned to a holistic approach for his care. When a vet recommended CushAway for her shelter pups, she was ready to give it a try. “Had we found the product sooner from what we had seen from the other two dogs, we think it could have been her miracle,” she said.

Phosphatidylserine is a piece of the Cushing’s puzzle that can address the root cause of Cushing’s disease. CushAway uniquely offers this as part of our supplement because we believe every Cushing’s dog deserves relief and vitality. We offer free bottles of our product to shelters and give a discount to pet parents adopting fur babies with Cushing’s. Read more about our story here.

CushAway Partners with Shelter All Those Left Behind Pet Rescue

CushAway is proud to partner with All Those Left Behind Pet Rescue (ATLB). For years, this shelter has helped foster some of the neediest dogs and other animals. Those with hard to place behavior quirks and medical problems can find a home through ATLB.

Located in Morris, Illinois, ATLB started as a home-based foster rescue in 2012 and quickly grew. Founder Gina Bartucci says it all started when she lost her sweet dog Oz to cancer. When she was ready to find another furry best friend, Gina found out just how overloaded the adoption system was. Once she saw how many dogs needed help, Gina knew what she had to do, and All Those Left Behind Pet Rescue was born in memory of Oz.

While dogs and cats are their most common rescue, Gina says they’ve also fostered 2 pot-bellied pigs and even a few guinea pigs. When they get a call about an animal they can’t foster, like a horse, Gina is connected with other shelters that can help get these animals placed in a safe home.

All Those Left Behind is also a sanctuary for those animals who have trouble getting adopted due to health or behavior concerns. To date, they’ve sheltered several dogs with Cushing’s disease. When her vet recommended giving the dogs CushAway, Gina was willing to give it a try. After using holistic treatments for Oz’s cancer and seeing results, she knew she didn’t want to try chemo drugs. “Thanks to the CushAway, we saw a night and day difference,” Gina shares. She wishes they had known about CushAway earlier since they had to put down a sweet pup with multiple health issues along with Cushing’s. “Had we found the product sooner from what we had seen from the other two dogs, we think it could have been her miracle.”

When Gina contacted CushAway founder James Marshall to ask for help getting more product for their non-profit, he was happy to hear about their efforts in fostering Cushing’s dogs and other needy animals. CushAway’s policy is to donate product for free to shelters and rescues. CushAway also donates a 6-month supply to pet parents who adopt a Cushing’s dog to encourage more people to take these fur babies home.

All Those Left Behind has operated for years out of the homes of generous volunteers, some who even help care for hard to place animals on a permanent basis. Now, ATLB is poised to open a 6,000 square foot facility to house these pets as well as sanctuary animals who need a forever home. ATLB is still raising funds to help move this non-profit pet rescue and shelter into a permanent home after hiccups in the building process have delayed the opening and stretched their budget. If you’d like to help, use the link on the right-hand side of their website to donate through FundRazr.

We’d love to see more Cushing’s dogs get adopted, wouldn’t you? Thank you All Those Left Behind Pet Rescue for caring for these dogs and for sharing your CushAway story.

Whole Food Dog Treats for Summer

When the temperature rises, cool treats are a fun snack for dogs and humans alike. However, giving Fido a big cone of ice cream may not be the best for his tummy. The mix of milk, cream, and sugar can be hard for dogs to digest, especially if your pooch is lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy. Fortunately, there are lots of great alternative whole food dog treats for dogs to enjoy while you lick that cone.

Key Ingredients to Use

Yogurt

Yogurt is a great substitute for milk and can also be found in lactose free varieties. It’s gentler on the digestive system and contains gut-healthy probiotics. It’s easily blended into smoothie pops or ice cubes. Look for plain yogurt with no added sugar or chemical sugars like xylitol which is toxic to dogs.

Fruit

Use fresh fruits to add a touch of sweetness. Watermelon and cantaloupe are both good for dogs as are blueberries and bananas. Be sure to remove seeds then freeze the fruit a few hours for better blending. Work in some yogurt and pour into cups or ice pop molds. A few hours in the freezer and you’ve got a doggy pop fit for any four-legged friend. Use edible sticks like bully sticks, salmon skin rolls or other stick-like chews. You can also use nylon dog bones as a chewable stick for after the treat is gone. Remember, no grapes, they’re toxic for dogs and can cause extreme kidney damage.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter may seem an unlikely treat for summer, but it can also be added to popsicle blends to add creaminess and texture. Find a no-salt added jar and spread some at the bottom of the pop mold or simply freeze in an ice cube tray. Peanut butter also mixes well with bananas or yogurt.

Meat Broth

Some dog experts suggest freezing broth as another cold treat. Using unsalted beef or chicken broth is the best choice. You can pour this into virtually any mold and mix it with peanut butter to thin down the recipe.

Make Frozen Fun

Popsicles and ice cubes aren’t the only way to play. Does your dog have a food puzzle toy? You can always add a little frozen treat to that, provided it doesn’t take too long to get at it. Any toy with a fillable inside will work. Simply use a liquid like broth, plug the hole with peanut butter, and freeze. The American Kennel Club shares that not only will this cool your pooch down, “the work it takes to get every last drop of broth will keep your dog busy and provide mental stimulation.”

Use fun molds to create a doggy-friendly frozen treat. Bone molds are popular and you can reuse them for your own fall festivities. You can even create a toy within the ice cube by adding a treat to the middle. Your dog will have fun licking until they get to that blueberry or meaty chunk in the center of the frozen liquid.

CushAway Cares

Keep your Cushing’s dog healthy and hydrated in the heat. Whole food dog treats can enrich a dog with Cushing’s disease and gentle exercise is important to improve mobility as long as your dog is able. Are you navigating a Cushing’s diagnosis? We’re here to help you walk through the process. While Cushing’s can’t be cured, supplements can enhance a dog’s vitality without the scary side effects of traditional drugs. Read more about the CushAway story to see if we can help you and your four-legged friend.

Protect Your Dog from the Heat

Summer time is a great time for play with longer days and more recreation time. For pups as well as humans, the glaring heat can also be a danger. To avoid heat stroke in dogs, practice play smarts by planning the best times and ways to enjoy the outdoors, hydrating, and knowing when to cut things short for a panting pooch.

Cushing’s dogs need exercise in moderation and getting out for a walk is important, but in the summer months, heat stroke in dogs is a real concern. Keep your dog cool with some fun and simple changes in your routine.

1. Swim Time

If you don’t have your own pool, finding an inexpensive kiddie pool and filling it up can be a fun playtime for your pooch. They might even be more likely to jump into a smaller pool just to splash their feet. You can toss rubber toys in to entice them. Just make sure your dog can step over the lip of the pool without straining. Just remember, like kids, dogs need supervision at all times in a pool.

2. Cold Dog Treats

Ice cream for dogs? Sure. Frozen peanut butter or meat? That can work too. Even plain old ice can do the trick. You can make it extra fun with molds that freeze food into shapes for Fido. Round molds will double as a ball toy. Yogurt is a perfect treat to add into the mix as it will do wonders for the digestive system.

PetMD.com recommends watermelon, blueberries, and cantaloupe as three of the ten best fruits for dogs. All could be blended and mixed into ice molds with or without yogurt or just served up in sweet, cold chunks.

3. Hydrate Against Heatstroke

Unlike their human besties, dogs often don’t know when to stop, so you’re their number one safeguard for protecting against heat stroke. Doctor Steven Berkowitz told Dogster.com, the online companion to the former Dog Fancy magazine, that “dogs are often too loyal to stop playing with you even if they’re starting to get overheated and tired.”

The key is to make sure your dog drinks often from a source of cool water. Be careful of leaving dishes or other containers of stagnant water out in the heat, as bacteria and insects can become a concern. Instead, consider buying a stainless-steel faucet adapter that can be used outdoors. You can also find filtering pet fountains that are safe for both indoor and outdoor use. Some suggest dogs even prefer drinking from running water more than stagnant water. Savvy pet owners have even hacked a DIY version if you’re looking to cut costs or have a fun project.

No matter what your outdoor activity, watch your pet for any signs that they are overheated, as their health can rapidly deteriorate if not corrected. Dogster.com lists 6 common signs of heat stroke in dogs that you should be on the lookout for.

– Rapid Panting
– Thick/Sticky Saliva
– Bright Red Tongue
– Weakness
– Diarrhea
– Vomiting

Enjoy time outside with your pooch, just make sure to beat the heat with breaks and water. Save longer times of outdoor play for cooler hours in the morning or evening when extended walks or runs are best. Whatever you choose, we hope you savor the season.

The Two Types of Cushing’s Disease: Pituitary Dependent vs. Adrenal Tumor Hyperadrenocorticism

When your dog suffers from Cushing’s disease, also called hyperadrenocorticism in the veterinary world, there are two main causes. The first is a tumor on the pituitary gland, which is termed Pituitary-Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (PDH). This tumor accounts for about 85% of Cushing’s cases, according to vetinfo.com. The other, less common manifestation of Cushing’s is a tumor on the adrenal gland, referred to as Adrenal Tumor Hyperadrenocorticism (ATH). Both types of tumors produce the same result: elevated levels of cortisol in the dog’s body.

Pituitary Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism

While small dogs of certain breeds are more likely to contract PDH, this is the dominant form of Cushing’s disease. An ultrasound is the best way for a vet to determine that a pituitary tumor is present. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment options may become necessary as symptoms progress. Surgery is an option, though until recently it was considered risky and many vets wouldn’t practice removing a pituitary tumor. Many vets will also prescribe a medication that mimics a chemotherapy drug.

Adrenal Tumor Hyperadrenocorticism

Larger dog breeds more commonly contract ATH. In the case of a tumor on the adrenal gland, surgery is not the most popular recommendation by veterinarians. Vets are more likely to prescribe a chemo drug to shrink the tumor and destroy parts of the adrenal gland.

Other Ways to Address PDH and ATH Symptoms

While both PDH and ATH can be treated through medication, vetinfo.com points out that “medical treatment of Cushing’s disease controls the symptoms but does not address the underlying problem of a pituitary or adrenal gland tumor.” This underlying problem is the overproduction of corticosteroids, which may be addressed in a nutrition-based approach to Cushing’s that many holistic vets are recognizing.

CushAway is a natural supplement that does address the root causes of Cushing’s. CushAway uses three active ingredients that research has shown to block or deplete corticosteroids: phosphatidylserine, melatonin, and HMR lignans. Using a natural supplement to assist in the treatment of Cushing’s poses little to no side effects like surgery or chemo drugs.

How to Care for Your Cushing’s Dog

When your dog develops Cushing’s disease, many normal functions can be disrupted. However, there are ways you can help ease your dog through their bodily changes and discomfort. Once you make a plan to treat the disease, you can begin to make adjustments to your dog’s habits and habitat. Here are some ways to care for a cushing’s dog.

1. Treat the Symptoms and Root Cause

Alleviating the symptoms and cause of Cushing’s can be approached from different actions. Some choose to go the traditional route, using chemo drugs prescribed by veterinarians. These drugs can be effective at shutting down or partially destroying the overactive adrenal gland that causes Cushing’s. However, chemo drugs can come with side effects, some extreme.

Another route pet parents take is a more natural approach, using supplements to address the cause and symptoms of Cushing’s. The University of Tennessee cited lignans and melatonin as effective in a study on treatment options for hyperadrenocorticism, the technical name for Cushing’s disease. These natural ingredients can work to suppress the production of cortisol, the root cause of Cushing’s in most dogs. CushAway uses melatonin, HMR lignans (a superior quality lignan), and phosphatidylserine, another natural compound that aids in combatting cortisol overproduction, to alleviate symptoms at the root cause.

2. Help Mobility

Dogs with Cushing’s disease often suffer from muscle weakness and stiff joints. Since older dogs are also more likely to develop Cushing’s, creating an environment that’s easy for mobility will greatly benefit your pet. If you have stairs, create or buy a ramp for access to begin the climb or, encourage your dog to stay downstairs by moving their bed to the lower level. Establish playtime and cuddle time downstairs so they feel comfortable and connected, even if you sleep upstairs.
Even though Cushing’s dogs experience muscle and bone loss, a gentle exercise routine is essential. Easy exercise can help build muscle strength. Start slow and build up to longer walks. Choose walk times with mild temperatures when possible.

3. Decrease Stress

Since cortisol is a response to stress, the key for Cushing’s dogs is to eliminate stressors as much as possible. Create an environment for your pet that is tranquil and consistent. Know what triggers your pet, and find ways to calm Fido during those times.
Does your dog hate baths? Try a product like Aqua Paw, a mitt that allows you to gently bathe your dog. Water flows out of the glove as you stroke your pet, giving them a bath and gentle massage at the same time, and saving you from getting soaked too. If thunderstorms make your pooch quake in fear, snuggle or try a thunder shirt. Regular exercise is also a way to decrease stress.

4. Adjust the Diet

Cushing’s dogs can greatly benefit from dietary changes that reduce inflammation and aid in gut health. Probiotics from yogurt or as part of a supplement can greatly increase the body’s ability to absorb the healing elements. Not all probiotics are for dogs, so make sure you check with your vet about what kind you are giving your pooch.

Going grain free can also benefit a Cushing’s dog. Dr. Becker, a holistic vet for Mercola Healthy Pets states that carbs trigger insulin release, which leads to cortisol production, and recommends cutting them altogether. If this seems a daunting change for you and your pet, you can ease into the habit with whole food additions to your dog’s kibble. Top off the dish with a dollop of yogurt, add sweet potatoes or crunchy veggies like carrots and cucumbers. You can even give your dog a few sardines. Find more ideas about adding to your kibble on our blog.

Caring for a dog with Cushing’s disease is a special challenge. Though the disease is known to be treated, not cured, it will be a continuing process to make them comfortable and bring healing through easing or eliminating the symptoms. Starting with a gentle supplement or nutraceutical can effectively manage the disease without the risk of harsh side effects for your pet.

Adjusting their lifestyle habits with diet and stress can bring relief to both you and your dog. Just a few changes can increase vitality and give your pet many more years to enjoy.

How Cushing’s Disease Causes Thin Skin in Dogs and Affects Bone Density

Cushing’s disease, or, as it is known in the veterinary world, hyperadrenocorticism, affects many areas of a dog’s body. Two of the areas that are often highly affected by Cushing’s are the skin and bones. Diagnostics have shown that often Cushing’s disease causes thin skin in dogs and can reduce bone density.

The Research

Thin Skin
Since skin-thinning is often a tell-tale sign a dog has Cushing’s disease, the phenomenon was put to the test. In a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Science, a sampling of small dog breeds suffering from Cushing’s were given an abdominal ultrasound to record the thickness of their skin in that area. When compared to the normal group of non-Cushing’s dogs, the results showed a significant difference in the skin of the abdominal area.

With the clear results of this study, experts are hopeful that it may prove a reliable way to detect hyperadrenocorticism. In other words, veterinarians may be able to use this technique more frequently to diagnose Cushing’s without more invasive tests.

Bone Density
Another study in the Journal of Veterinary Science showed the relationship of bone density to dogs suffering from Cushing’s disease. In this study, 36 dogs were analyzed for their bone density according to a quantitative computed tomography (QCT) measurement. Out of the test group, 8 displayed known symptoms of hyperadrenocorticism. When studied, 7 of the 8 Cushing’s dogs showed signs of osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.

Researchers added that dog breed and varying bone size may also play a role in the findings, however, more research is needed to investigate the implications of this phenomenon. Of the dogs tested, many of the breeds considered more likely to develop Cushing’s were part of the study. These included the Maltese, Poodle, Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, and Dachshund.

Helping the Skin and Bones

Dog parents of Cushing’s pets often notice subtle signs of these ailments. When it comes to alleviating these symptoms of Cushing’s, a holistic approach may be the gentlest relief for your pooch. Dietary changes and additions can also prove helpful. If the thin skin results in wounds, some salves and essential oil blends are also available to ease your pup’s discomfort and promote healing.

A Holistic Approach
Treating the skin thickness problem is trickier. However, an overall treatment for Cushing’s symptoms may help relieve this problem. Traditional chemo drugs like Trilostane have been found to increase the skin’s vitality after Cushing’s however, these drugs may also bring a range of negative side-effects. Using a supplement like CushAway may also yield healthier skin by providing relief from plant-based and natural-occurring compounds that impact Cushing’s at the root cause.

Omega 3 and Calcium for bone health
The fatty acid Omega 3 is found in supplements, but also in fish. Kibble additions like sardines or anchovies can be a beneficial treat for your dog. Calcium has long been touted as a bone-super food. Surprisingly, many vegetables can be sources of calcium. Then there’s yogurt. A double punch of gut health and calcium, topping your dog’s food with a dollop may be the healthy treat that packs a big restorative punch.

Caring for your Cushing’s Dog

Though Cushing’s has no known cure, there are ways to relieve symptoms and discomfort. Though subtle, low bone density and thinning skin are telltale signs of Cushing’s that may lead to diagnosis and treatment plans. Treating these symptoms often means treating the dog as a whole, through supplements, gentle exercise, and dietary changes. If you notice thinning skin and lethargy or obvious markers of pain, it may be time to make a plan to keep your canine best friend living their best life.

Identifying Cushing’s Disease in your Dog

How do you know your dog has Cushing’s disease?

Cushing’s is an endocrine disorder that causes a dog’s body to overproduce the hormone cortisol. This can be caused by tumors on the adrenal or pituitary glands, or from administering excessive amounts of steroids for an extended period of time. These tumors are usually benign and adrenal are the most common Cushing’s symptoms.

Signs of Cushing’s that typically show up in middle-aged to older dogs are many and varied, thus Cushing’s can be overlooked or hard to diagnose. There are several ways to identify, diagnose, and treat Cushing’s so that your dog can continue to lead a vibrant life living with the disease.

1. Cushing’s Symptoms

The American Kennel Club shares that dogs tend to show an excessive thirst and consequently an increased need to let it out a sign of Cushing’s. “Often owners report that their first clue that something might have been wrong was their dog wanting to go out at night to urinate.” PetMD also lists excessive thirst and urination among other symptoms. Common Cushing’s symptoms may include some or many of the following in these categories:

Urinating, Eating and Drinking
– Increased or excessive thirst and urination
– Urinating at night or accidents
– Increased panting
– Increased hunger
– Bloated abdomen

Energy and Muscles
– Decreased energy
– Muscle weakness

Body, Coat, and Skin
– Hair loss
– Obesity
– Fat pads on the neck and shoulders
– Scaly, white, hard patches on skin
– Darkened skin
– Thin skin
– Bruising

2. Diagnosing Cushing’s

The first step to diagnosing Cushing’s in a dog comes from the vigilance of their owner. Watch for signs that your pet isn’t themselves. If you notice any of these signs in your dog that signal a change in their normal behavior or health, talk to your vet. To confirm Cushing’s disease, your veterinary professional will need to perform one or more tests.

Urine Cortisol:Creatine Ratio Test

Using a urine sample, vets check to see the cortisol:creatine ratio in your dog. High levels of this ratio may indicate Cushing’s and will probably lead to further, more in-depth testing.

ACTH Blood Test

This test checks the cortisol levels in a dog’s blood. First, a sample is drawn from the pet. Next, the dog is given an injection of an adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and another blood sample is drawn after a few hours. The cortisol levels are then compared between the first and second sample. A normal response would be a slight rise in cortisol levels. An abnormally high starting level that continues to rise above normal signals Cushing’s.

Dexamethasone Suppression Test

In this test, dogs are injected with low levels of the steroid dexamethasone which blocks adrenal production. Normally a dog’s cortisol levels will decrease in the following hours. If cortisol levels do not go down, this may indicate the existence of an adrenal tumor due to Cushing’s disease.

Ultrasound

A vet may also order an ultrasound to check for tumors in the adrenal or pituitary glands.

3. Treating Cushing’s

There are several schools of thoughts as to how to treat Cushing’s symptoms. Though the disease is never technically cured, some methods have shown to reduce or nearly eliminate signs of Cushing’s.

Diet and Supplements

Many owners are considering a more holistic approach to treating Cushing’s symptoms using supplements and changing the diet. Since probiotics have been proven to increase the overall health of their human companions, veterinary professionals have begun to address the significance of probiotics in a dog’s diet.

CushAway is once such supplement developed with naturally occurring ingredients that block cortisol production in a dog’s body. Combined with a vitality-boosting probiotic, CushAway presents little to no side effects in comparison to traditional chemo drugs.

Adrenal Suppressing Drugs

Several medications are also on the market to treat adrenal tumors and suppress cortisol production. They can be effective, however, these drugs also come with side effects that should be carefully monitored.

Vetoryl, a chemo drug containing trilostane, is used to treat Cushing’s symptoms. In a study of 107 dogs given the medication, 93 were reported to show at least one adverse reaction including musculoskeletal problems, vomiting, and anorexia. The FDA warns that Lysodern, another medication often prescribed to Cushing’s dogs “requires careful monitoring and can have severe side effects.”

Just like any human best friend, you know when something changes that affects the health and behavior of your pet. If you suspect a variation in your dog’s normal self, be vigilant and have a conversation with your vet. Once you diagnose Cushing’s, decide how you will help your canine companion overcome the symptoms of this disease. If you make the choice to use natural supplements, CushAway is here to help you and your pooch on your journey.

Caring For Older Dogs

Cushing’s Disease In Elderly Dogs

For many dogs, Cushing’s begins when they enter their elderly years. According to the American Kennel Club, “almost all patients are older than eight years when Cushing’s disease develops.” Many symptoms of Cushing’s can be mistaken for aging so often the development of the disease is overlooked until it is in an advanced stage. The key is to know your pet and watch for signs then determine a care plan that will help deal with the symptoms of Cushing and their age.

Caring for an aging dog requires a watchful eye and loving heart. The good news is the American Veterinary Medical Foundation reported that pets are generally living longer, healthier lives due to advances in veterinary care and dietary changes. There are some key practices you can try to help an elderly dog live a more vibrant life even if they are diagnosed with Cushing’s disease.

Diet Matters

Older dogs in general need food that is easy to digest. Cushing’s dogs may greatly benefit from a diet that balances kibble with whole food additions like yogurt and softened vegetables. Elderly Cushing’s dogs may even do best on a grain free diet.

Gut health is important to maintaining the overall health of your dog and can be a key method for helping ease Cushing’s symptoms. Supplements can also be a way to lessen Cushing’s symptoms naturally. A probiotic supplement like CushAway combines both, using natural occurring compounds like lignans and melatonin to combat the overproduction of cortisol, the underlying cause of Cushing’s.

Keep Dogs Active

While exercise may change as a dog ages, it shouldn’t stop. Obesity leads to health complications in dogs as well as humans. Cushing’s disease in elderly dogs however, may cause joint or other pain that slows them down. Start slowly and keep a regular exercise schedule whether it be a quick walk or a bit of playtime inside. Keep a moderate pace, but motivate your dog with verbal and physical praise.

Once you establish the routine, you can continue to add a little length and vigor to the exercise. Watch carefully for signs of fatigue or pain your dog exhibits and don’t push them if you notice something is amiss. Gentle exercise can help your aging pet regain a bit of their old vitality.

Engage Their Brains

Senility is a concern for aging pets. To combat this, stimulate your pet with interactions and new discoveries. You can give an old dog new toys. Thebark.com recommends food puzzles that engage your dog by hiding treats through simple to intricate flaps, knobs, or other containers. A quick internet search reveals more choices than a holiday gift catalog.

Show your dog love and affection as often as possible. Pethealthnetwork.com says as they age, your dog “needs your companionship and attention for mental health and emotional well-being.” Your pooch needs your attention and care more than ever in this stage of life. This will keep their minds stimulated and their tails wagging.

Maintain Overall Health

More vet checks are needed as a dog ages. Cushing’s dogs need to be monitored for symptoms and progress through natural supplements or traditional chemo drug treatment. In some cases, using these chemo medications can cause other complications for your pet, so they need to be watched carefully.

Dental hygiene is also a concern in older dogs. Maintain a regular habit of cleaning your canine’s teeth to avoid tartar buildup that could lead to infections.

Make Home Comfortable

Make easy mobility a priority in your dog’s living space. Your senior dog will be better off not having to climb stairs to get to their bed every time they want to rest. Maintain a calm environment as much as possible as aging dogs may have a lower tolerance for stress. This is especially important for a Cushing’s dog as increased cortisol can lead to anxiety more readily.

Cushing’s disease in elderly dogs doesn’t mean they can’t continue to lead a quality life even after diagnosis. Since there is no known cure for the disease, the best a pet parent can do is care for their pooch through managing and lessening symptoms and pouring out affection for their long-time best friend. Many dogs continue to live a happy life for years to come.

Exercise and Your Dog

Exercise is part of a healthy life for humans and dogs alike. But the type and amount of exercise for dogs can vary by the breed and size of your dog. Among the benefits of keeping your dog active are increased vitality, digestive health, and a healthy weight. Exercise at the right pace for your pet can help improve medical conditions that cause weight gain and lethargy.

Dogs with Cushing’s disease can benefit from daily exercise. You may need to start small and build up to a more rigorous activity, but gentle, daily exercise can help control weight gain and sustain energy in a Cushing’s dog.

Whether you plan on daily walks or build in active playtime in the backyard, maintaining a routine of exercise can be beneficial for you and your pet. Here are some tips for getting the most out of exercise with you and your pet.

Find the Right Fit

Exercise should be tailored to your dog’s breed and your lifestyle. Experts suggest you should consider your own exercise routine before bringing a pet home. The American Kennel Club expressed this in their article How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need. “It is not a good idea to buy an active dog breed unless you already lead an active lifestyle, and it is unrealistic to expect your toy poodle to join you for marathon training – unless you are pushing him in a stroller.”

Senior dogs may not be able to run and jump like they did as a pup, but exercise is still important. The key is to reduce the amount of time spent in exercise but continue to provide walks and indoor exercise with toys. Senior dogs may still enjoy and be capable of short games of fetch and brief walks.

For breeds that tend to hyperactivity, exercise can actually help dispel this energy that is often spent indoors through destructive behavior. Experts suggest that attention-seeking and damaging outbursts will decrease or even cease with regular exercise and play that allows your dog to unleash their energy. Find out how active your pet needs to be by talking to your vet about the needs of their specific breed.

Time it Right

PetMD.com recommends that dogs spend from 30 minutes to 2 hours being active every day. Length and rigor of activity depend on the age and breed of your pet. Once you know your dog’s energy levels, you can gauge how long your Fido can keep pace with brisk activity. You can break up periods of activity throughout the day if your pooch does better in short spurts. Even highly active dogs would benefit from multiple sessions of exercise and play.

Be Weather Smart

Tailoring your pet’s exercise to the climate is essential. In the heat of summer, morning and evening walks are best. Winter conditions may also necessitate indoor play. Some cities even offer workouts where “dogs and their people” can get healthy together. K9FitClub licenses workout structures tailored to dogs and their owners where gyms can partner through a membership and training program. They believe a healthy pet parent can mean a healthy pooch.

K9FitClub also reminds pet parents to carefully monitor their pet for signs of heat stroke or dehydration in warm weather exercise. Dog’s don’t sweat except for minimal amounts from their foot pads, so giving them regular drinks of fresh water before, after, and even in between exercises is a must.

Give Praise to your Pooch

Make exercise for dogs fun by giving your dog physical and verbal rewards. Verbal praise during exercise can emphasize that this is a desired behavior and make it more rewarding for your pet. Making verbal and physical praise a reward instead of always resorting to a treat is a healthy habit. Giving your pup a good petting and hearty verbal affirmations after they participate in exercise can be just as rewarding.

Mix it Up

Exercise for dogs isn’t just about walks, it can be a fun game of fetch or tug-of-war. Setting up a simple obstacle course can also be a fun time for Fido. Use what you have or find objects like tunnels and low fences they can play with. For indoor time, find a place you can engage them in play with a toy. Maybe they can follow you as you run up and down stairs. Exercise for dogs doesn’t have to be just about daily walks.

Make it Social

Your dog may thrive on exercise time with other pets. Dog parks offer a great place for your pooch to run and interact with other animals. However, you will need a plan to make sure your dog relates well with other pets. Think about how your dog reacts to other animals on a walk. Do they long to play or growl? You may need to introduce the park when your dog is on a leash. Make sure you have a way to separate your dog should they become aggressive with other pets.

Know other dog owners? You could even set up a pet play date to give your pooch some fun exercise time. If you walk with a friend, bring your pup along.

Providing exercise time is an important part of caring for your dog. If your pet is suffering from a medical condition, talk to your vet about how to exercise your pet safely. Whatever the weather or season, you can find ways to get your pet moving. Exercise for dogs is a key step towards a healthier, happier life.