Cushings Syndrome - Manning Veterinary Hospital

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Cushings Syndrome

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Cushing's Syndrome

Cushings Syndrome occurs in dogs who are producing excessive amounts of cortisol. Cortisol is produced by two small glands situated near the kidneys called adrenal glands.The production and release of cortisol from the adrenal glands is controlled by a hormone called ACTH.
ACTH is produced by a pea sized gland at the base of the brain called the pituitary gland. In dogs  with Cushing's syndrome, cortisol release is excessive and eventually becomes debilitating.

There are two forms of Cushings syndrome;
Pituitary Dependant-
Cushings syndrome is the most common form of the disease. It occurs due to excess production of the hormone ACTH which stimulates the adrenal gland to over produce cortisol.
Adrenal Dependant- Cushings syndrome occurs when the adrenal glands produce excess cortisol without stimulation from other hormones.
Both forms of cushing's syndrome result in excessive amounts of cortisol in the blood and over time the clinical signs of Cushing's syndrome will develope.

Clinical Signs
Cushing's syndrome is usually seen in the older dog.
A dog with Cushing's Syndrome will often ;-
Drink large amounts
Urinate frequently
Eat ravenously
Have a "pot belly"
Have thin skin and hair loss
Develop muscle wasting
Be lethargic

Your dog may not necessarily have all these symptoms.

Diagnosis - Cushings syndrome can be difficult to dignose and your vet may need to perform more than one test. Blood tests will be performed to confirm the diagnosis if clinical signs are suspicious. Cortisol levels fluctuate in both normal dogs and dogs with Cushing's syndrome.
This is the reason that your vet can't just measure cortisol from one sample. The blood tests required usually require you to leave your dog with your vet for a few hours.
Your vet may run a ACTH stimulation test. This test assesses how much excess cortisole your dog's adrenal glands actually produce.

The importance of treatment- Aside from the impact on your dogs quality of life, if left untreated your dog may develop other serious conditions such as diabetes, blooc clots in the lungs, kidney and urinary tract infection and inflammation of the pancreas.

Monitoring- Your vet will need to monitor your dog closely for the first 3 months of treatment and then every 3 months. You will need to monitor your dogs drinking, urinating and appetite, so you can work with your vet to keep your pet looking and feeling happy and healthy.

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