Addison’s Disease In Dogs
Jake And Maggie enjoy a day walking in the leaves!
What is Addison’s disease?
*Addison’s disease is the common name for hypoadrenocorticism, caused by decreased hormone production from the outer part or cortex of the adrenal gland.
*Addison’s disease or hypoadrenocorticism is an uncommon disease of dogs in which the adrenal glands’ outer layer (the cortex) is destroyed.
*In most cases, it’s the body’s own immune system that leads to the destruction of this sensitive endocrine tissue, which leads directly to a decrease in the production of two classes of hormones: glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids.
*Cancers and certain drugs can also affect a breakdown in the adrenal glands’ cortex.
*In all cases, both adrenal glands are affected.
*Young, female dogs of certain breeds are predisposed, therefore suggesting a genetic origin. A mode of inheritance has not yet been established.
*The adrenal glands are small, paired glands located near the kidneys.
*Addison’s disease in dogs is primarily caused by an immune–mediated destruction of adrenal tissue. *Less commonly, the adrenal glands may be damaged by trauma, infection, or cancer.
*A secondary form of Addison’s disease can result from a tumor or defect in the pituitary gland, which is an important hormonal regulator located in the brain.
*Certain breeds seem to be at increased risk for developing Addison’s disease. These include, but are not limited to: Portuguese Water Dogs, Bearded Collies, Standard Poodles, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Leonbergers, Great Danes, and Labrador Retrievers.
*Because both these hormone classes are instrumental in a wide variety of the body’s basic functions, symptoms are typically non-specific.
*Vague as the signs of Addison’s typically are, diagnosis can be difficult to achieve.
*In Addisonian patients, lab work typically reveals low sodium levels, high potassium levels, low chloride levels, anemia, dehydration and high calcium levels.
*A blood test designed to challenge the adrenal gland into producing cortisol is used to achieve a definitive diagnosis (ACTH stimulation test). An EKG may also reveal changes associated with high potassium levels.
*If your dog has suffered from an Addisonian crisis hospitalization and intensive care will be necessary to stabilize your pup’s condition.
*There is no cure for Addison’s Disease in dogs, however, the condition can be managed with ongoing hormone replacement therapy and regular blood tests to check hormone and electrolyte levels so that adjustments to medications can be made as necessary.
*It is essential for owners of dogs with Addison’s disease to take their dog in for regular examinations and never adjust the medications without explicit instructions from the veterinarian.
What is the life expectancy for dogs with Addison’s Disease?
*With proper treatment and disease management dogs with Addison’s Disease can have a relatively normal life expectancy.
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