Addison’s Disease in Dogs – Tips For Early Detection and Treatment

toy poodleAddison’s disease in dogs is a serious health problem, and it can also hit humans as well as canines. Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) occurs when the body’s regulation of adrenal gland hormones is altered, because the brain is unable to release adequate amounts of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), or because the adrenal glands do not release their hormones in response to ACTH.

It is a condition where the endocrine system malfunctions, and the body’s regulation of adrenal gland hormones is changed. The endocrine adrenal glands are not able to secrete a sufficient amount of specific hormones such as cortisol which are essential for the internal functions of the body. Left untreated, Addisons can be fatal not only to Poodles and other small dogs, but to humans as well.

Addison’s disease in dogs is common in young to middle-aged female dogs and is found in many breeds. Diagnosing the disease in dogs is difficult because its symptoms are also common in other dog ailments. In 2008 researchers announced that Addison’s disease in Standard Poodles was caused by the actions of several genes, and many believe that this dog illness is a result of the attack by the body’s immune system on its own adrenal glands’ cells, damaging them to the point where they cannot release hormones when necessary. However, as of the moment, the possible causes of this killer ailment are not clear-cut.

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Among the known symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs are vomiting, lethargy, tremors, lack of appetite, weight loss, hair loss, muscle weakness, and diarrhea. These are vague signs of the disease so it is hard for dogs with this illness to be diagnosed. Early diagnosis is important to avoid further complications. If you have noticed even a few symptoms of Addisons, have your dog checked immediately by a veterinarian. Getting a second opinion after a negative diagnosis is highly recommended. It is better to be sure than sorry later on.

Some dog breeds are more prone to Addison’s disease than others. Included in the list are Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, Bearded Collies, Great Danes, Basset Hounds, Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Airedale Terriers, German Shepherd Dogs, German Shorthaired Pointers and many others. If you own one of these breeds, having pet insurance is highly recommended as it will help to offset any costs, should your dog develop Addisons.

Poodles are prone to Addison’s disease because of their polygenic genes. In simple terms, it is a genetic disorder caused by a combination of several genes which appears to affect the adrenal gland function. Other breeds are also prone to this dog illness due to their mixed genes such as the Portuguese water dogs.

When suspecting that your dog has this disease, you should get a vet to evaluate him and conduct necessary tests. Tests will indicate if your dog’s health is in jeopardy, and detailed blood testing is the only current way to test for Addison’s disease in dogs. A sign that your dog has this illness could be elevated potassium and low sodium levels, though these will be irregular most of the time. To be sure, your dog needs to undergo an ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) stimulation test. This test involves injecting a small amount of ACTH and measuring the amount of cortisol released over a few hours. If the dog has Addison’s disease it will not result in a significant increase in the levels of cortisol.

When you have confirmed that your best bud has this kind of illness, do not be in despair because there are remedies for it. Actually, there are several medications to help treat this problem. Addison’s disease in dogs is treated with fludrocortisone. Your dog can also be injected with Percorten-V or prednisolone monthly. Another medication is Percortin, an injectable mineralocorticoid that is administered every 21 to 28 days. Constant monitoring is important until the maintaining dose is established. Your dog might need to be hospitalized and require further lab test works. However, there are instances where this disease would require a life-long medication.

Special consideration should be given for victims of this dog health problem. During treatment, the dogs will be suffering from frequent thirst and urination. Make sure to always provide your dogs with enough fresh clean water. When stressed and ill, the medications should be altered or changed according to the amount of stress the dog is suffering.

Worry not, for this dog health problem is treatable. And your dog can live a quite normal life after being treated. Just provide for your dog’s needs. Take note that excellent dog health means a stress-free and sickness-free life.

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