ways to care for a cushing's dog

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.