Middle-aged to older dogs are usually affected by Cushing’s disease. The average age at diagnosis is six years old. However, dogs as young as two years old have been known to be affected. You may be wondering what exactly causes this condition.
Glucocorticoid is a vital hormone that plays a role in various body systems. Cushing’s disease in dogs is a condition characterized by overproduction of this hormone. The pituitary gland sends a hormone to the adrenal gland to stimulate production of glucocorticoid. If either gland starts behaving abnormally, it may result in overproduction and development of Cushing’s disease.
As you now know, there are two forms of this disease. One form occurs because of a problem with the adrenal gland, and the other is the result of a problem with the pituitary gland. Most cases of Cushing’s disease in dogs are the result of a tumor affecting the pituitary gland. However, tumors have been known to affect the adrenal gland also.
This condition progresses very slowly. Therefore, you may mistake the symptoms caused by disease for signs of normal aging. Some of the most common signs of this illness include hair loss, abdominal swelling, and increased drinking and urination. Other dogs may have recurrent urinary tract infections or develop lesions on their skin. Some dogs experience multiple symptoms while others may only have one.
Treatment is aimed at improving your dog’s quality of life as opposed to increasing his lifespan. As mentioned earlier in this article, Cushing’s disease in dogs can be caused by problems with either the adrenal or pituitary gland. Chemotherapy can be used to treat either form. If the adrenal gland is affected, surgery is also an option.