Hyperadrenocorticism/Cushing’s Disease

This article is designed to help you better understand your pet’s condition. This is not a substitute for a veterinary diagnosis; it intended for reference purposes and to supplement an existing diagnosis after a veterinary examination. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 740-432-5980. It is absolutely vital to have a veterinary diagnosis prior to following any of the instructions provided here.

Cushings Disease is essentially an increase in circulating corticosteroids.

The adrenal glands produce a wide range of hormones responsible for maintaining many body functions. In Cushing’s disease (also known as hyperadrenocorticism), these glands produce more of these hormones than they should.

Left untreated, Cushing’s disease will progress and lead to life-threatening disorders including diabetes, nervous system diseases, congestive heart failure, and liver and kidney failure

What are the symptoms of Cushings Disease?

• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Increased appetite
• Panting
• High blood pressure
• Thinning of coat
• Pendulous abdomen
• Thinning of skin
• Skin infections
• Muscle weakness
• Recurring urinary tract infections
• and many more

What are the 3 main causes of Hyperadrenocorticism/ Cushings?

• Overuse of steroids- Slow reduction of use can reverse it, but if systemic damage had already been done, that cannot be reversible.

• Adrenal-dependent Cushing’s – This is the result of a tumor of the adrenal gland and covers 15-20% of the cases of Cushing’s. The tumor is often large enough to be seen by x-ray or ultrasound and may be malignant. Surgical removal of the affected gland is a treatment option.

• Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s – 80- 85% of the cases of Cushing’s is caused by the presence of a tumor of the pituitary gland. This tumor is most commonly benign, but it causes the pituitary gland to over-stimulate the adrenal gland, resulting in an overproduction of the adrenal hormones. Surgical removal of the pituitary gland is not an option. There is a treatment option involving radiation therapy, but a more exact diagnosis is needed before that therapy is recommended. A CT scan would be required to make that diagnosis. The most common therapy for Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s involves attempting to control the activity of the adrenal gland with medications.

Guernsey Veterinary Clinic, Cassie Gombeda RVT

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Increased thirst

Increased urination

Increased appetite

Panting

High blood pressure

Thinning of coat

Pendulous abdomen

Thinning of skin

Skin infections

Muscle weakness

Recurring urinary tract infections

and many more

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