Pituitary vs. Adrenal Cushing’s

When a dog is diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, there are two main root causes. It is helpful to know which is causing the increased cortisol production to better plan treatment for your pup.

Pituitary Dependent Cushing’s Disease

The American Kennel Society shares that more than 90% of dogs diagnosed with Cushing’s have what’s referred to as pituitary-dependent Cushing’s where a small and usually benign tumor grows on the pituitary gland. While the tumor isn’t usually harmful, it does cause an overproduction of ACTH, the hormone that tells the adrenal cortex to make and release more cortisol. This is the root cause of Cushing’s disease that creates a host of other symptoms like hair loss, excessive thirst, energy loss, etc.

Addressing pituitary-dependent Cushing’s in dogs is often treated with a medication to destroy parts of the adrenal cortex but must be closely monitored. This careful dance between stopping the drugs from destroying the cortex and maintaining an ideal cortisol level is treated by drugs that can also come with a range of side effects.

Adrenal Dependent Cushing’s Disease

A rarer manifestation of the disease, adrenal dependent Cushing’s is often more aggressive and harder to treat. In half the cases of this form of Cushing’s, a malignant tumor grows on the adrenal gland located on top of the kidneys. Surgery to remove the tumor is risky and usually doesn’t cure the dog.

Fortunately, this form of Cushing’s only shows up in a small number of dogs who develop the disease. Right now, surgery is the main form of treatment for adrenal dependent Cushing’s.

Iatrogenic Cushing’s Disease

When corticosteroids are administered for a long period of time or given in excessive amounts to combat another health problem, dogs run the risk of developing Cushing’s due to overexposure. Common uses for corticosteroids are to treat allergies, certain cancers, inflammation, or low-levels of cortisol. Thankfully, this condition can be reversed by stopping the medication or lowering the dosage, unlike the other main forms of Cushing’s, which are managed, but are usually never fully cured.

What All Cushing’s Dogs Face

Regardless of the type, a dog suffering from Cushing’s disease faces an overproduction of cortisol. A variety of methods can be used to stop or slow the overproduction to get to the heart of the disease. Surgery to remove tumors that stimulate overproduction is an option, as are drugs used to destroy glandular tissue. Finally, some pet parents use natural supplements that blunt cortisol production as an approach to the Cushing’s problem.

Effectiveness and side effects vary with each method, so it’s best to consult your veterinarian or holistic practitioner to discuss options.

CushAway offers a nutritional supplement as an option for addressing the symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs. Our formula uses naturally occurring ingredients to counteract corticosteroid overproduction at the root cause. Find out more about how CushAway can help your Cushing’s dog here.

Treatment Options for Dogs Diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease

After lots of observations and tests, your dog is diagnosed with a seemingly incurable disease: Cushing’s. Your mind is swirling as you learn about adrenal overproduction and the effects it has on a dog’s body. You consult your vet and are given limited options for treatment. What do you do?

Fortunately, you’re not alone. There is a community of professionals and pet parents offering support and ideas to give your fur baby the best care and a renewed energy even after a Cushing’s diagnosis. There are treatment options for dogs with Cushing’s disease. Let’s take a look.

Traditional Chemo Drugs

Typically, vets have prescribed a few different drugs for shutting down the overproducing adrenal glands. Vetoryl and Anipryl are FDA approved to treat Cushing’s although Vetoryl is the only one that can treat both types of Cushing’s: pituitary and adrenal dependent. Lysodren is another powerful human drug used to destroy layers of the adrenal gland with Trilostane gaining popularity as well.

These are all powerful chemo-type drugs that can isolate the Cushing’s problem, and they can be effective for some dogs. However, these drugs come with a wide range of side effects, some dangerous depending on how the dog reacts.

The FDA lists several serious side effects for Vetoryl including “bloody diarrhea, collapse, severe sodium/potassium imbalance, and destruction of the adrenal gland” which “may result in death.” Newly included on the package are also side effects of “adrenal insufficiency, shaking, elevated liver enzymes and elevated kidney tests.” Lysodren can also cause “severe side effects” and needs to be monitored closely according to the FDA.

Talking with your vet about the benefits and risks of pharmaceutical treatment option is the best way to make an informed decision if this path will be the best for your pup.


Another option to treat Cushing’s disease is by using a natural supplement or nutraceutical. These nutritional supplements provide a more natural or holistic way to manage symptoms. Using elements known to aid in the reduction of the corticosteroids overproduced by the adrenal glands, many pet parents are considering this gentle approach.

Most nutraceuticals contain one or more natural elements that work to address the root cause of corticosteroid overproduction. Lignans, a polyphenol found in plants and melatonin, a hormone known to minimalize cortisol levels work in tandem to combat Cushing’s, according to a study from the University of Tennessee Veterinary College.

Another compound, Phosphatidylserine, is being used by some supplements as a way to blunt cortisol levels. One study by the International Journal of Sports Medicine has shown this effect in athletes, and Cushing’s dogs may also benefit from a supplement of the same phospholipid. Look for a nutraceutical that contains at least one or more of these elements to best address Cushing’s at its roots.

One more benefit of using a nutraceutical to address the symptoms of Cushing’s is the absence of harmful side effects. Unlike the pharmaceuticals prescribed, supplements are seen as gentler on a dog’s system. Due to extra fiber in some of the supplements, the biggest side effect is usually more frequent stools. The natural management of Cushing’s can be an effective way to bring vitality back to your pup while addressing the root adrenal causes of the disease.

Have a conversation with your vet before any medications are prescribed to address all your choices. Many are open to discussing this newer approach as an option. A holistic vet may be able to offer even more clarity on the subject of nutraceuticals.

Lifestyle and Diet

An additional way to maximize wellness in your pup is through diet and exercise. Though some Cushing’s dogs suffer serious joint and muscle problems, most can and should practice gentle and regular exercise. Big or small, diet changes also have an impact on the way a dog responds to Cushing’s treatment and healing.
Gut health in pets is fast becoming as important a topic as it is for their human companions. Probiotics coupled with nutraceuticals can enhance the effectiveness of the supplements as a healthier gut leads to better absorption of materials.

Separate probiotic supplements for dogs can be found, but check with your vet about the strain. Not all gut health is created equal, and supplements made for humans are not always best for dogs. You can also add a dollop of fresh yogurt on top of your pup’s kibble or raw food. Just make sure the yogurt is plain, as pups and sugar don’t mix well. Always avoid the sweetener Xylotol, which is toxic to dogs, but can be found in some yogurts.

Whatever choice you make, be informed and watch your pup closely. You may decide one way isn’t working and it’s time to try another. In many cases, Cushing’s dogs can add years and vitality to their life with the proper treatment.

About CushAway

Our blog is dedicated to giving you information so you can best care for your Cushing’s dog because our goal is the wellness of your pet. If we can help bring vitality back to your beloved pup, then we’re ready and honored to be part of your journey. Learn more about our Cushing’s supplement here.

Carbs and Cushing’s

America seems infatuated with the carb-less diet. And in truth, cutting carbs that are less beneficial can prove healthy for the gut and other parts of the body. Can we apply the same ideas to our canine friends—do carbs affect Cushings disease?

How do carbs affect Cushings disease in dogs?

Biologically speaking, dogs don’t require carbs to get the nutrients they need. They can physically sustain themselves on fat and protein. However, domesticated dogs have long been fed a diet that includes carbohydrates, says Whole Dog Journal. Carbohydrates include a wide range of foods from dairy products to vegetables. Grains are also carbs, and are the most widely debated, and possibly the most widely used form of nutrients for a dog.

Healthy animals can process grains and derive nutrients from them as well. Complex carbs like whole grains are best, as well as starches and fibrous foods because they don’t impact glucose levels in the blood as much when digested. A diet that consists of good carbs can be tolerated by most dogs. The problem comes when animal protein is eliminated or drastically reduced and foods become supplemented mostly by filler grains.

Dogs with chronic illnesses like Cushing’s however, may not benefit from grains, especially those that contain the plant protein gluten. According to Dogster.com, “gluten has been implicated in contributing to a variety of inflammatory health issues.” Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt grains.

A Cushing’s dog is already battling inflammation caused by the overproduction of cortisol, and adding a carb-heavy diet on top of this can lead to more problems. Thus, eliminating or drastically reducing grains can be an important step in minimizing the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.

Carb versus Grain Free

Grains are carbs but not all carbs are grains. A Cushing’s dog may benefit from a whole food diet that is grain-free, but incorporates some good carbs like vegetables and yogurt. Giving your Cushing’s dog cabs like fruits and vegetables also provides antioxidants, a compound known to help immunities and combat bad cells in the body.

Because kibble is cost-effective and readily available, it can be difficult for pet owners to simply craft or purchase raw or protein-based dog food. Try finding a grain-free kibble and supplementing it with whole foods. Grain-free dog foods still contain carbs, so look at the label to see where those carbs are coming from. Peas and potatoes are often found in grain-free kibble, but are complex carbs that provide nutrients.

Read more from our blog about helpful whole food additions for Cushing’s dogs.

Diet and Cushing’s

It’s not surprising that focusing on your pup’s gut can be an important step in managing Cushing’s disease. Since so much of the body’s functions are helped or hindered by what happens via the good bacteria found there, reducing inflammation from grain sources can prove helpful to a Cushing’s pet.

A common side effect of most drugs prescribed for dogs suffering with Cushing’s is linked to digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea. You can help your dog’s gut by choosing a nutraceutical that works to block the overactive adrenal gland with natural ingredients and by adjusting your pup’s diet. CushAway is a nutraceutical developed to address the root causes and soothe the gut with probiotics.

If your fur baby is suffering from Cushing’s disease, you may want to consider an approach that focuses on a gentler approach with less side effects to address the symptoms. Starting with a hard look at the types of carbs your dog consumes on a regular basis, you can begin a plan that can lead to increased vitality and a lessening of symptoms. A grain-free diet supplemented with a nutraceutical and whole foods might be the change your dog needs.

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.

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.


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.

Is Yogurt Good for Dogs?

A lot of discussion has come up lately in the pet community about the health benefits of yogurt for dogs. Research supports that much like humans, a healthy gut at least benefits overall health and at most, can help suppress disease. Cooking Light Magazine even referenced Colorado Holistic Vet Angie Krause in their “Well-Balanced Pet Column. “‘Just like with people, pets’ gut health is the cornerstone of their overall health,’” said Kraus.

While probiotic supplements are available for dogs, some pet owners looking for a probiotic addition to their pet’s diet have decided on yogurt for dogs. In tandem with the movement away from dry kibble as a dog’s only food source, many pet owners choose to incorporate some fresh foods into their dog’s food regiment, yogurt among them. Most vets agree yogurt is safe and can be beneficial for dogs. PetMD suggests adding a dollop on top of kibble is a good way to include rich nutrients in a pup’s diet. The key is to watch sugar and flavor content. Find plain yogurt without additives like processed sugars or artificial flavorings. Watch out for yogurt that contains xylitol, an artificial sugar toxic to dogs. It’s a good idea to consult your vet to figure out the best serving size and watch your dog as you add yogurt into their diet. If any signs of lactose intolerance such as gas, diarrhea or vomiting occur, discontinue and discuss with your vet.

While yogurt is a great source of calcium and probiotic microbes, if you’re looking to give your dog a healthy gut, a probiotic supplement is the most effective method. Probiotic supplements are available with strains specifically tailored to a dog’s digestive tract.

Probiotics can also prove effective to combatting the symptoms of certain health conditions. Anecdotal evidence has shown dogs that suffer from Cushing’s disease can benefit from a natural supplement containing probiotics along with other naturally occurring elements like melatonin. One such supplement is CushAway, a revolutionary supplement to combat the symptoms and root causes of this debilitating disease. The creators of CushAway researched formulas for months before adding probiotics to help dogs ingest the crucial ingredients and to boost overall gut function for optimal health.

If you’re looking to supercharge your pet’s diet, a healthy choice is yogurt for dogs. Consider moving directly to probiotics for the most benefit. Consult your vet first to make sure you have a plan and monitor your pooch as you introduce a new food or supplement. Adding yogurt to kibble or as part a whole food diet can benefit your dog in a myriad of ways. Yogurt is a food humans and dogs alike can enjoy.

For further reading check out:

Whole Food Additions to Kibble, Probiotics for Dogs