What Are the Signs of Cushing’s Disease?

How do you know if your sweet dog has Cushing’s? Since the disease presents with a variety of symptoms, it can be hard to identify. Cushing’s disease is the result of corticosteroid overproduction or internal tumors of the adrenal and pituitary glands. The signs of Cushing’s disease can be slow to show. However, there are certain markers that indicate strong evidence of Cushing’s disease in dogs.

Treatment with Drugs or A Natural Approach?

When a diagnosis for Cushing’s is first made, pet parents have a decision to make. Will you take the often-prescribed approach of strong drugs that Petmd.com says can have serious side effects? Will you choose an approach that includes natural supplements that also address key symptoms of Cushing’s?

No matter what choice you make, the key to helping your pup live a new normal life with Cushing’s is to continue to monitor them. Watch their energy level and appetite, as well as physical reactions like weakness or gastrointestinal issues.

Early Warning Signs of Cushing’s Disease

Older dogs are the most likely to develop Cushing’s. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), owners first notice something is wrong when their dogs show extreme thirst and therefore need to urinate more frequently, often during the night. Many pet parents just chalk this up to old age or other conditions like diabetes in dogs. Thus, the disease advances until other symptoms develop and the dog is finally tested for Cushing’s. If you see your dog suddenly developing possible signs of Cushing’s Disease such as an excessive thirst or urinating more, it’s time to check with your vet.

Certain dog breeds are also more likely to develop Cushing’s as they get older. AKC lists the Poodle, Dachshund, Boston Terrier, Boxer, and Beagle as possible breeds prone to Cushing’s disease. As your dog ages, be extra vigilant if they are an at-risk breed.

Other Minor Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s can also present a range of minor symptoms that can be hard to pin down as just Cushing’s. However, if you notice these happening to your pet, it’s best to check in with your veterinary doctor.

Dr. Mary Gardener DVM with Lap of Love shared that pet parents should look out for the following signs that may point to Cushing’s disease in dogs:

• Pot belly (abdominal muscles sag)
• Thin skin
• Panting more
• Hyper-pigmentation (extra markings like freckles appear on the skin)

How is Cushing’s Diagnosed?

Dr. Mary also shared the most likely steps your vet will take to identify Cushing’s. Your pet will get a blood test to look for certain chemical markers. After blood tests confirm something abnormal, your pet may be recommended for an ultrasound to see if an adrenal gland carries a tumor, or if the glands show anything abnormal.

An ultrasound will help determine the type of Cushing’s disease present in your dog. Adrenal dependent Cushing’s will show a tumor on the adrenal gland that can be benign or malignant. Pituitary dependent Cushing’s usually shows that both glands are enlarged due to steroid over-production. Knowing the type of Cushing’s can help determine the course of treatment.

How to Address Cushing’s Symptoms

A variety of treatment options are available for Cushing’s. You’ll need to consider several factors to determine the best option for your dog.  Often, vets prescribe medication that will essentially kill off the cells of the adrenal gland to address the tumor. These medications can be effective but may also come with harsh side effects.  Another option for treatment includes surgery to remove the tumor, though many vets state this process can be risky.

One more approach is to use supplements that act as a natural answer to Cushing’s symptoms.

At CushAway, our founder watched his beloved dog respond to a supplement formula that uses naturally occurring elements like probiotics and lignans (from flax) to address symptoms at the root cause. Read our story and decide if this approach can gently soothe your Cushing’s dog.

After a Diagnosis of Cushing’s Disease

Once a diagnosis is made and treatment is chosen, it’s important to continue with that treatment to keep symptoms at bay. Although it can be managed, Cushing’s is not something that can be cured. However, you can help your dog adapt to and live a new normal routine. Keep up with exercise at your dog’s pace, and maintain a healthy diet. Adding whole food to your dog’s kibble may even add more vitality post-Cushing’s.

Even after a Cushing’s diagnosis is made, you can find ways to love and care for your dog so they are full of life and comfortable.