Can Supplements For Dogs with Cushing’s Disease Help?

When a beloved furry friend isn’t well, we as pet parents want to restore their health and tail-wagging fun as much as possible. Cushing’s disease is a condition that affects a dog’s hormone-producing glands, the adrenal and or pituitary, causing an overproduction of cortisol and even tumors. This fight or flight hormone affects many parts of a dog’s body inside and out, causing various symptoms. Though Cushing’s has no known cure, treatments are available to deal with both the symptoms and root causes.

Read more about the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.

Ways to Address Cushing’s Symptoms

When a dog is diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, careful monitoring begins. This may include imaging like an ultrasound to check for tumors on the pituitary or adrenal glands. Treatment options include surgery, medication, supplementation, lifestyle changes, or a mix of these methods.

The root issue of Cushing’s that causes symptoms is steroid overproduction. This can be addressed in a few ways. Medications are commonly used to kill off or attack the cells of the overproducing glands. Surgery is a risk and is mostly used to remove a tumor that is found to be cancerous. Both of these methods can pose significant risks or side effects to the dog undergoing the treatment.

Supplements for dogs can also address Cushing’s symptoms at the root cause. Using natural elements like lignans which have been found to counteract corticosteroid production can result in lower side effects to the dog. Pet parents who take this gentle route may also decide to introduce lifestyle changes for their furry friend including adding whole foods to a diet, using probiotics to enhance gut health, and offering a gentle exercise routine for their pups.

What Supplements Do for a Cushing’s Dog

While traditionally prescribed medications can help reduce Cushing’s symptoms in dogs, they have also been shown to produce a range of side effects—some drastic. The FDA warns that one such medication called Lysodern “requires careful monitoring and can have severe side effects.”

Supplements for dogs can also impact Cushing’s symptoms without causing as much stress on a dog’s system. They are used to block cortisol overproduction through naturally occurring elements.

What’s in a Supplement for dogs with Cushing’s Disease?

Most Cushing’s supplements focus on lignans as a way to inhibit the body’s production of corticosteroids. CushAway uses a trio of effective elements to both lower and blunt steroid production: Lignans, melatonin, and phosphatidylserine all work to reduce the toxic levels of corticosteroids in a Cushing’s dog.

Lignans

HMR lignans sourced from spruce trees are an effective means of blocking the two enzymes needed to make cortisol. Studies have shown that these lignans are quickly digested with minimal, if any, side effects.

Read more about lignans for Cushing’s dogs.

Melatonin

Melatonin works to block the adrenal glands form producing the hormone ACHT, a primary cause of pituitary-dependent Cushing’s. The University of Tennessee’s veterinary program studied these elements and concluded that combining melatonin and lignans could lower adrenal hormone secretion in humans as well as dogs.

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a healthy fat that coats cells. It has also been shown to slow or stop the production of the hormone ACHT. Phosphatidylserine works complimentary to lignans, to reduce the amount of cortisol in the body of a Cushing’s dog.

Read more about phosphatidylserine for Cushing’s dogs.

Probiotics for a Cushing’s Dog

Gut health has become a marker for overall health in both the scientific and nutritional community. This is true for dogs as well. Probiotics are a key ingredient to gut health. They help lower inflammation and increase the absorption of key nutrients to keep the body running smoothly. Gut health even plays a role in the immune system, producing germ-fighting compounds.

A dog with Cushing’s can benefit from probiotics in many ways. When paired with supplements for dogs, it will increase the absorption of the natural elements that help battle Cushing’s symptoms and root causes.

Probiotics have also ben found to help decrease inflammation in the gut. This is due to the countless microorganisms (microbiome) that help the digestive system function at its peak. A balanced microbiome leads to balanced health for the entire body.

Probiotics are safe for dogs as long as the type used is suitable for a canine microbiome. Humans and dogs do not share the same gut bacteria and need separate types of probiotic supplements. CushAway uses dog safe probiotics as part of our supplement to help balance the gut and increase absorption of the lignans, melatonin, and phosphatidylserine

A Supplement Success Story

Pet parents often choose natural supplements for dogs because they are concerned about the side effects of chemo-type drugs. Gina Bartucci, founder of All Those Left Behind Pet Rescue, cares for shelter pets suffering from Cushing’s. She knew she wanted to try a holistic approach after seeing a natural path work for a beloved dog with cancer. When her vet suggested trying CushAway for her fur babies dealing with Cushing’s, Gina gave the supplement a try. “Thanks to the CushAway, we saw a night and day difference,” Gina shared.

Read more about All Those Left Behind Pet Rescue and Gina’s CushAway story

Probiotics and Dogs: FAQ’s

What Are the Benefits of Probiotics?

Taking probiotics has been linked to a lowered risk for cancer, tumorous growths, and chronic diseases. It increases energy and strengthens the immune system. A healthy gut means more nutrients are released and absorbed into the body, providing fuel for every system to excel.

The Innovative Veterinary Care Journal states “a balanced intestinal microbiome is crucial to good health in dogs and cats, as well as in humans.” The microbiome is the world of microorganisms that live in the digestive system. When these good bacteria thrive, a dog’s body has the potential to as well.

Can Dogs Take Human Probiotics?

No. Probiotic supplements are formulated with strains of bacteria specific to the human gut. While research is ongoing, it’s clear that different animals utilize different bacterial strains that aid gut function. Look for supplements specifically formulated for dogs.

Eating yogurt, however, can be good for dogs as a whole food addition to kibble or even as a frozen treat. Just make sure there’s no added xylitol, a sugar substitute harmful to dogs. Plain yogurt is best as there’s usually no sugar added.

How Do You Choose a Probiotic for your Dog?

Probiotics are effective when the amount of bacterial strains are in the millions at least. This may sound excessive, but these little guys need strength in numbers to work.

Make sure you choose a probiotic that’s formulated specifically for dogs. Look for that high number of strands. You can check with a natural veterinarian or traditional vet for suggestions.

How Do You Give Your Dog a Probiotic?

There are a few different ways to deliver a probiotic to your pup. First, some pet foods include probiotics as part of their formula. However, the strains may not be strong enough to be effective through digestion. As mentioned previously, adding a dollop of fresh yogurt to your dog’s meal may be just as effective and an easy whole food addition to their diet.

Another way to provide a probiotic for your dog is to give them a supplement in pill form. This can be added to food for an easier delivery. Supplements can be shelf-stable or refrigerated.

You know your pup, which will help guide you to the best option for your pet. It’s a good idea to consult your vet before starting a probiotic regimen.

How Do Probiotics Affect a Dog with Cushing’s?

Since medical research shows that gut health can benefit overall health, dogs with Cushing’s receive the same benefits. Probiotics help lower intestinal inflammation which in turn promotes improved brain and immune function, among other benefits.

Some pet parents choose to treat Cushing’s symptoms with a natural supplement rather than chemo-type drugs. Probiotics can help with the absorption of nutrients and aid the overall effectiveness of the supplement. This is why CushAway uses probiotics as part of their natural supplement formula for Cushing’s disease in dogs.

Cushing’s and the Science of the Gut

Microbiome

Why does dog gut health matter? Like humans, scientists are finding more and more evidence about the link between a healthy gut and a healthy animal.

The Innovative Veterinary Care Journal defines the microbiome as “the collection of the living microorganisms inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract.” These microorganisms function as wholistic helpers that contribute to everything from brain function to fighting diseases. A gut balanced with these good bacteria can effectively increase immune function and nutrient absorption, control bowel discomfort or deficiencies, help increase thinking and positive moods, and decrease inflammation. With all these benefits, the veterinary community is taking notice.

Why the Gut Matters for a Cushing’s Dog

Gut balance is especially important for Cushing’s dogs. A healthy microbiome helps combat chronic diseases like Cushing’s, and also helps control inflammation. Using a natural supplement combined with probiotics to address Cushing’s symptoms can be very effective for dog gut health. CushAway is one such supplement that utilizes adrenal-suppressing lignans (derived from flax seeds) and melatonin to balance the corticosteroid imbalances of Cushing’s. Taken with these natural supplements, the probiotics work to increase the absorption of the lignans and melatonin, as well as providing all the other benefits of a healthy gut.

Pitfalls of a Processed Diet

Pet owners know that avoiding processed foods in their own diet is the key to long-lasting health. Why should it be any different for your pet? Cushing’s dogs may benefit from a diet free from grain or at least lower in processed foods.

Compounds known as Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), associated with cancer and chronic disease are found in higher concentration in some pet foods than any food for human consumption. The Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute (CANWI) estimates that some pet foods may contain over 122 times the AGEs found in processed human foods. It’s no wonder a chronic disease like Cushing’s can be affected by these compounds.

The Whole Food Effect

Nutritional management of Cushing’s incorporates this idea using a whole food enriched diet along with the probiotics and natural supplement of lignans and melatonin to block adrenal hormone overproduction. Since a diet of whole foods is known to cut down on inflammation, a common struggle for Cushing’s dogs, it’ important to consider supplementing kibble with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Yogurt, fruits and vegetables, and even sardines can become part of a life-changing diet for your dog.

Probiotics and Canine Health

Since the canine gut is different than the human gut, dogs should take probiotics with bacterial strains specifically tailored to a dog’s stomach. The overall benefits of a balanced microbiome allow a dog more vitality. For a dog suffering from Cushing’s, the benefits are numerous. Coupled with a natural supplement which is more gentle on the gut than chemo drugs to halt the effects of the disease, a change in diet that fosters dog gut health can be a big step towards regaining a more vibrant lifestyle for your Cushing’s pet.