Help for Heart Worms

The Often-Overlooked Addison's Disease in Dogs

If your dog is vomiting, is acting lethargic, has a diminished appetite, and is losing weight, then the exact cause can be hard to pinpoint. Chances are that your veterinarian has done all the routine tests and has found no problems, yet your dog is still acting sick. One disease that many veterinarians miss at first is an adrenal disease such as Addison's. Addison's disease is a fairly rare in dogs, so it is usually not considered when you bring your dog in for examination. It's important that you know what to look for so you can bring it up to your veterinarian if you suspect it might be a cause.

What is Addison's disease?

Addison's disease is when the adrenal glands, which are located on the top of each kidney, are not putting out enough of a hormone called cortisone and, in some cases, not enough of a related hormone called aldosterone. Both of these hormones work together to help regulate your dog's blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, and other key functions in the body. When one or both of these hormones are low, there could be serious, sometimes even life-threatening health problems.

What are the symptoms of Addison's disease?

Other then the ones listed in the introduction, dogs with Addison's disease may have an increase in "sore areas" such as around the abdomen or hind quarters. The dog may act like it has stiff muscles more often. Some dogs also have an increase in thirst and urination. In the early stages of the disease, the symptoms may come and go infrequently. As the disease progressives, the symptoms become more frequent and almost constant. Many symptoms are mistaken for other diseases or health issues.

What causes Addison's disease in dogs?

One cause is heredity, and the condition tends to run in families or in certain breeds. Females may be more likely to get it than males. The disease tends to show up and be diagnosed in early middle age, though older dogs have also been known to present symptoms. Other causes also include tumors on or around the adrenal glands. If your dog has recently gone through treatment which involved the use of steroids, then there is a chance he or she could come down with the disease after the treatment ends.

Fortunately, there are tests for this disease, and there is a treatment available. The important part is talking to a veterinarian, such as one from 1st Pet Veterinary Centers, and getting these tests done. Generally, this disease doesn't get better on its own and could result in a crisis requiring an emergency room visit if it is ignored. Treatment usually consists of medications such as replacement corticoids. With treatment and monitoring, your dog can live an otherwise normal life.