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Canine Cushing's Disease Symptoms

Canine Cushing's Disease Symptoms

The symptoms of canine Cushing's disease are similar to the signs of aging. Hence, many a time, this fatal health condition in dogs goes untreated.
DogAppy Staff
Canine Cushing's disease, also referred to as hyperadrenalcorticism, is a hormonal disorder in dogs. This disease is noticed more commonly in older dogs. And its symptoms being the same as that of aging, many times, owners are unable to identify it. Listed below are some causes of this disease.


This disease is a result of excessive production of a hormone called cortisol. It is produced by the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are one of the important glands of the body and are located near the kidneys. Cortisol plays a significant role in a dog's body. It regulates the metabolism, maintains body weight, skin health, etc. The level of cortisol in the body differs for various situations. Usually, when the dog is in stress or is ill, this level is high. However, once the dog is out of this situation, it comes down to normal again.

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands when they are stimulated by ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic Hormone). ACTH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. If it is produced in excess amount, cortisol will also be produced excessively. Thus, there are two scenarios that can cause this disease. Tumors are the most common reasons of dysfunction of the adrenal or pituitary glands. 85% cases are a result of the presence of tumors. In case of adrenal glands, the tumor may be present in just on one gland or both.


This disease is usually noticed in dogs that are middle-aged or older. The symptoms are very vague in the initial period but become severe as the disease progresses. There are plenty of symptoms associated with this disease and all of them may not be observed. They are often dramatic and usually observed in combinations. Frequent urination and excessive drinking of water are some of the symptoms of the initial stage. Given below is a list of some of the commonly-observed symptoms.
  • Potbellied appearance
  • Excess panting
  • Weight Gain
  • Thinning of skin
  • Hair loss
  • Increase in the appetite
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Lethargy
  • Disturbed sleep pattern
It can be observed that the symptoms are very similar to that of aging and hence, this disease goes unnoticed by many owners. Hair loss is what makes the owners visit the veterinarian. Pet owners should observe the behavior and appearance of their dog and visit a veterinarian at the earliest if they notice any abnormalities.

Diagnosis in dogs is usually done by blood tests and urine tests. Once this disease in diagnosed, the veterinarian provides the required treatment. The treatment usually depends on the cause. Medications are provided for tumors in the pituitary gland, while surgeries are performed if the adrenal glands have a tumor.

This disease can be treated and the dog can live quality years ahead. However, the glands cannot be restored to their normal functioning. Canine Cushing's disease, if left untreated, can cause serious illnesses like liver failure, heart failure, canine diabetes, neurological disorder, infections, etc. Thus, it is necessary for every dog owner to be aware of the symptoms of the disease so that early treatment can be provided. The disease progresses slowly and usually, its early symptoms are missed out. Dogs that are more than 10 years of age are most susceptible.