Cush­ing’s Syn­drome

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - NEWS - with Tim Craig BVSc, VETERINARIAN

CUSH­ING’S Syn­drome is a group of clin­i­cal signs cre­ated by the over­pro­duc­tion of cor­ti­sol in the body.

Cor­ti­sol is a hor­mone pro­duced by the adrenal glands that is se­creted to help an­i­mals re­act in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

How­ever, chronic high lev­els of this hor­mone can have many neg­a­tive ef­fects on the body.

Dogs that are suf­fer­ing this con­di­tion tend to drink a lot of wa­ter and there­fore uri­nate a lot.

This is of­ten the first sign that an owner will no­tice.

There can sub­se­quently be changes in body shape. Mus­cle loss and the de­vel­op­ment of a pot belly due to the re­dis­tri­bu­tion of fat are clas­sic signs that de­velop over time.

Mus­cle weak­ness can be a prob­lem as well.

Dogs can also de­velop skin changes like thin­ning, rough­ness or the de­vel­op­ment of black pig­men­ta­tion of the belly.

The on­set of this syn­drome is in­sid­i­ous and dogs can live with the con­di­tion for many years de­spite it hav­ing neg­a­tive im­pacts on their health.

Di­ag­no­sis is based on blood tests that as­sess the level of cor­ti­sol in the blood­stream be­fore and af­ter ad­min­is­tra­tion of stim­u­lants or sup­pres­sants.

Ul­tra­sound of the adrenal glands can also be done to look for an adrenal gland tu­mour.

If a de­fin­i­tive di­ag­no­sis is made treat­ment should be con­sid­ered.

Med­i­ca­tions are avail­able that sup­press the pro­duc­tion of cor­ti­sol down to nor­mal lev­els.

If an adrenal gland tu­mour is the cause, sur­gi­cal re­moval is usu­ally nec­es­sary to cor­rect the disease.

With med­i­cal man­age­ment, life­long med­i­ca­tions and mon­i­tor­ing are re­quired to en­sure the lev­els of cor­ti­sol re­main nor­mal and are not pushed too low or al­lowed to creep up­wards again over time.

If your dog has been drink­ing more wa­ter than usual an as­sess­ment by your vet for Cush­ing’s Syn­drome (or other pos­si­ble causes) is rec­om­mended.

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