Dogs suffer from hormonal imbalances just as their owners do on occasion. Canine diabetes, hypothyroidism in dogs and Cushing’s disease are three of the most common endocrine diseases for canines.
Cushing’s may be naturally occurring or the result of corticosteroid use. It is the result of an overactive adrenal gland that is producing too much hormone. If Cushing’s Disease results from drugs given to address another health problem, withdrawing the medicine will allow the dog’s body to return to normal functioning levels.
If the disease is not caused by medication it may be due to a pituitary gland tumor stimulating the adrenal gland to produce excessive natural corticosteroids. Pituitary tumors are responsible for 85% of naturally occurring Cushing’s Disease in Dogs while adrenal tumors account for only 15%.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in dogs are increased drinking and urination, increased appetite, frequent panting, hair loss that may appear evenly on both sides of the body, abdominal swelling, and high blood pressure. Cushing’s is often diagnosed when a frustrated pet owner complain of high water intake and frequent urination that has become a problem. Diagnosis is accomplished with blood tests.
Untreated, Cushing’s can suppress the immune system, weaken the heart and muscles and cause damage to the nervous system of the animal. Adrenal gland tumors can be removed by surgery while pituitary gland tumors are treated with Lysodren which is the traditional pet med for this condition. Lysodren is related to DDT and was used to treat human acne. The dosage must be carefully calculated and pets on Lysodren need close monitoring. Side effects can be minimized with proper dosing but include vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Anipryl does not appear to be as toxic as Lysodren and has not displayed as many side effects. It may take several months for Anipryl to provide relief and pet owners will see the gradual improvement in the dog’s health over time. Vetoryl for dogs is a promising new pet med to treat both pituitary and adrenal dependent instances of of Cushing’s Disease. Vetoryl acts by controlling excess cortisol production. Side effects of the drugs listed above range from loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea to potentially life threatening drug reactions. Any side effects noted should be reported to your veterinarian without delay.
The symptoms of diabetes are also symptoms of other potential dog health problems. The most frequently mentioned symptoms are:
- Increased urination
- Excessive water intake
- Weight loss without loss of appetite
- Dog sleeps more, is lethargic or seems overly tired
Excess glucose in the system leads to frequent urination as the dog’s body attempts to rid itself of the excess. High urine output generates a greater thirst and the cycle repeats itself. Ketones in the blood can lead to ketoacidosis and an emergency situation for the pet owner. The diabetic dog may be eating normally or eating more than usual but the ketones prevent the body from utilizing the nutrients.
If your usually active and alert dog becomes tired and lacking energy he may begin sleeping far more than normal. This is a critical symptom of canine diabetes and calls for urgent attention. Although there are three types of diabetes found in dogs, Diabetes Mellitus is the most common by far. Treatment for diabetes mellitus consists of insulin and managed diet. Canine diabetes can be managed and controlled. Early diagnosis and treatment leads to the most effective treatments and reduces other health problems that might be caused by untreated diabetes.
Hypothyroidism in Dogs
In dogs, hypothyroidism most often develops between the ages of 4 and 10. It is the most common hormonal disorder in dogs and most often affects pet that have been spayed or neutered. Some breeds are prone to hypothyroidism and these include the Doberman, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Greyhound, Great Dane, Poodle and Boxer as well as the smaller Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund and Miniature Schnauzer.
This disorder is a deficiency of thyroid hormones that affects metabolic function or all of the animal’s organ systems and is rarely found in mixed breed dogs. No one specific symptom is associated with this health problem but it is a combination of symptoms that will lead your vet to suspect canine hypothyroidism. Symptoms include:
- Mental dullness, lethargy
- Loss of hair
- Obesity or rapid weight gain
- Increased shedding or dry coat
- Change in pigmentation of the skin
- Intolerance to cold
- High cholesterol (yes, dogs can have high cholesterol)
It is not difficult to treat canine hyperthyroidism. A synthetic thyroid hormone given daily will solve the problem. The strength and frequency of dosage will be determined by your vet based on weight and severity of the disease. Periodic blood tests will help your vet establish the perfect dose for the dog. When treatment for hypothyroidism in dogs is started, it is the beginning of a lifelong treatment for the animal. Thyro-Tabs (generic Soloxine) are the treatment of choice for many vets and can be purchased a discounts from online pet med sites.