Cushing’s disease is a disorder of the adrenal glands in which excessive adrenal hormones are produced. The cause of hyperadrenalsim may be abnormal pituitary gland function, tumors of the adrenal gland, “cortisone” therapy or unexplained over activity of the adrenal gland.
Hyperadrenalism is a slowly progressing disease, and the early signs are often not noticed. These include increased appetite, increased drinking and urination, reduced activity and enlargement of the abdomen. As the disease progresses, these signs intensify, and the pet may become fat, pant heavily and lose hair evenly over each side of the body. In some cases, hair loss may be the only apparent change.
Extensive laboratory tests and radiographs (X-rays) are needed to diagnose the condition, find its cause and plan treatment. Some animals respond to medical treatment alone, while others need both surgical and medical treatment. Unfortunately, some patients grow worse despite treatment.
Control, rather than cure, is the outcome of treatment in most cases of hyperadrenalism. Treatment must be carefully monitored, since the drugs used in therapy may cause underproduction of adrenal hormones and a shock-like state known as an Addisonian crisis.
Treatment plans are determined on a case-by-case basis. Your veterinarian will provide options based on your pet’s current condition and prognosis. Contact your veterinarian if you have any further questions.