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Cushing Syndrome Disease in Dogs

Cushing Syndrome in Dogs
Cushing Syndrome in Dogs

Cushing Syndrome in dogs is a hormonal disorder. Especially the cortisol hormone is the leading cause of the disease. Cortisol is a hormone that secretes the adrenal glands at the moment of stress and helps fight or fight the body. The increase in cortisol level in the body is called hypercortisolism. In this situation, the nervous system, kidneys, respiratory system, skeletal and muscular system, skin and heart are affected. Although it is known as a disease specific to dogs, it is also seen in cats.

What are the Reasons for Cushing Syndrome?

In normal condition, when the level of cortisol in the body drops, the pituitary gland stimulates the adrenal glands by releasing a hormone called ACTH. The adrenal gland also secretes cortisol and returns the level to normal. The pituitary gland then stops cortisol production by stopping ACTH release. A disruption in this process can lead to overproduction of cortisol. In other words, the causes of the disease are the ones that occur in one or more of the elements that make up this process. For this reason, the cause of the disease depends on a few factors.

  • Causes based on the pituitary gland
  • on adrenal glands
  • iatrogenic drugs

The causes of the pituitary gland are the most common causes. Approximately 85% of dogs have a pituitary gland because of their illness. A small, benign tumor arising in the pituitary gland causes excessive secretion of ACTH. Adrenal glands are stimulated much more than necessary to increase the amount of cortisol in the body above the maximum level.

There are also tumors at the beginning of the causes based on the adrenal glands. This tumor, which develops in the adrenal glands, is larger than in the pituitary gland. For this reason, X-rays or ultrasound can be seen. Because the non-tumorous gland is small, the glandular gland finds an important place in the diagnosis.

Causes related to cortisol-containing medicines are caused by continuous and regular use of steroids. Another cause is cortisol in the veterinary medicine which is frequently used in the treatment of many diseases. The results of this situation may vary depending on the type, amount and duration of cortisol used. The cortisol externally stops the body’s own cortisol production and, over long periods of use, the adrenal glands begin to shrink. If cortisol treatment is stopped, the diapers may resume their normal state. The dose should be gradually reduced. Therefore, this process should be continued and controlled by veterinarian control.

Cushing Syndrome Symptoms

Cushing’s syndrome is a slowly progressing disease. For this reason, it is difficult to identify the symptoms of the disease and these symptoms are generally related to aging. The most common statements are excessive appetite, excessive water consumption, resulting in excessive urination, urinary incontinence, abdominal distention, deepening thinning, permanent hair loss, skin infections, intermittent and rapid breathing. In addition, muscles may weaken and discoloration may occur. In some cases, hard white formations can be observed at the bottom. It is also possible that the dog has depression.


Clinical and laboratory findings may play an important role in the diagnosis of the disease. Elevation of liver enzymes, especially a significant increase in cholesterol level, detection of urinary and urinary tract infections, enlarged adrenal glands seen on x-ray, pituitary disorders occurring in brain MR is a guide in diagnosing the disease.

How is Cushing’s Syndrome Treated?

In general, since the indication depends on the age, it can be advanced when the disease is detected. So, first of all, the owner of the dog should know him well. He should be well informed about his routines, habits, nutrition and mobility levels and should be able to detect changes in habits such as urine and stool.

It should be understood at first what the disease develops in the treatment process. If the cause is cortisol containing drugs or steroids, these drugs and chemicals may be discontinued by cutting off the drugs. However, according to clinical and laboratory tests, it must be shown that the disease is caused by an abnormality in the pituitary gland or a defect in the adrenal glands. Treatment may then be initiated using one of the medicines containing mitotane, trilostane, ketacanazole or selegilline.