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Cushings Disease
Cushings Disease
With Dr. Barry

"Today Cushings Disease is much more easily treated than just a few years ago.

In this series of brief articles, I will discuss the Good and Bad News about Cushings, Tell Tail Signs and I will discuss a must have supplement, Immuno 2865, that can help your pet live an active normal life, please see the article called "More Than A Drop In The Bucket" for more information."

To Your Pet's Good Health,             Barry Miller DVM


What You Need To Know
What You Need To Know

Cushings disease occurs when your pet’s body is producing excess cortisol, a hormone that helps their body respond to stress, control his weight, fight infections, and keep his blood sugar levels in check.  Since this stress hormone is key in controlling many important body functions you can expect symptoms in each of the areas that cortisol helps to control. I will discuss more of the symptoms in the sections called Tell Tail Signs.

AKA, Also Known As:

Cushing Disease is also known as hypercortisolism and hyperadrenocorticism


Did Stress cause Cushings Disease in my pet?:

No. The increased cortisol production can be related to the following disorders:

1.  excessive stimulation of the adrenal glands by the pituitary gland, usually as a consequence of a pituitary tumor (pituitary origin)
2.  the unregulated production of cortisol by the adrenal glands (adrenal origin)
3.  occasionally, administration of steroid-containing medications may result in the development of Cushing's disease (iatrogenic origin) such as corticosteroids like prednisone

Types of Cushings Disease

Cushings disease can involve two glands in the body, the adrenal gland and the pituitary gland. Therefore the types of Cushings involve both those glands

*  Pituitary dependent. I would say that this type of Cushings is the one I diagnose more often than Adrenal Dependent. It happens        when there’s a tumor in a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, called the pituitary.
*  Adrenal dependent: This type comes from a tumor in one of the glands that sit on top of the kidneys, called adrenal glands. About      15% to 20% of diagnosed dogs will have this type.
*  There is a third kind of Cushings, called Iatrogenic. This is what our dog Lola had. She suffered from allergies for years and after       prolonged corticosteroid treatment she developed Cushings. Any long term steroid therapy,like Prednisone, Depomedrol or    allergy shots, can cause cushings due excess exogenous steroids (steroids that are not produced by the body but comes from an    external source). 
The Good News and The Bad News
The Good News and The Bad News

The Good News Is:

Today cushings disease is much more easily treated than just even a few years ago. A new drug called Trilastain or Vetoryl, is very successful in treating the symptoms of Cushings Disease. It helps control cushings whether it is adrenal or pituitary dependant cushings disease.

In some rare cases, surgery can cure dogs of the problem. If Cushing’s syndrome comes from a tumor on your pet’s adrenal glands, the vet might be able to remove it with surgery, which will cure him of the problem. But if the tumor has spread to other parts of his body or he has other health problems, surgery may not be an option.

Cushings disease is more common than most people know. With proper treatment cushings disease can be successfully treated and the pet can live a normal life.

I also recommend a herbal supplement, Imuno 2865, that is very effective at controlling the signs and symptoms of cushings disease. We will discuss herbal supplements in the sections called More Than A Drop In The Bucket.

The Bad News:

Cushings Disease is usually a lifetime diagnosis requiring life time treatment.

Cushings Disease has very similar symptoms to other diseases which can make it difficult for your veterinarian to diagnose.

If cushings disease is not diagnosed and treated it can lead to other serious conditions such as diabetes, pancreatitis, heart disease, seizures, kidney failure, and nervous disorders. It is important to share with your Veterinarian any changes your pet is experiencing while they age, this can lead to early detection.

Tell Tail Signs
Tell Tail Signs

As mentioned earlier cushings can be difficult to diagnose since many of the symptoms are similar to other diseases and disorders. Also, if you remember Cortisol helps the body respond to stress, control weight, fight infections, and keep blood sugar levels in check. So symptoms will be related to these areas.

This condition is rarely diagnosed in puppies or young dogs. The condition mostly affects middle-aged and older dogs. Our 9 year old rescue dog Lola had cushings disease and suffered all of the following symptoms except tiredness and inactivity, she remained very playful.


The Symptoms your pet may be experiencing:

  • Is thirstier than usual
  • Weight gain and increased appetite
  • Frequent urination. Housebroken dogs may have indoor accidents. This can be one of the most challenging symptoms of Cushings
  • A poor coat, hair loss that seems slow to grow back
  • Pot Bellied or droopy stomach
  • Has thinning skin
  • Seems very tired and inactive
  • Pants a lot
  • Gets skin infections, sometimes you will not see these infections if they are long haired until they are groomed or they begin to bite at their skin


What you Veterinarian will do to diagnose your pet:

There are three common tests for measuring cortisone which will help your veterinarian to diagnose hyperadrenocorticism:

1.  a urine cortisol creatinine ratio test,
2.  a blood test for a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test
3.  a blood test called an ACTH stimulation test, it tests for an adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) 

Your veterinarian may also run regular blood work to determine if there are any other potential causes of your pet’s symptoms. Your Veterinarian may also do an ultrasound to rule out an adrenal gland tumour.

Cushioning Cushings Disease
Cushioning Cushings Disease


Usually, a dog with cushings can live an active, normal life with medication to treat the condition, though he’ll need it for the rest of his life. The most common drug prescribed to treat cushings is trilostane (Vetoryl). Mitotane (Lysodren) is an older drug that vets don’t prescribe much anymore. It causes many side effects, but it is more affordable. Your pet will need regular check-ups and blood tests to make sure his treatment is working.

If your pet has iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome, your vet can try to gradually stop giving him steroids. But the original condition they were treating will probably come back.

What more can I do?

The advantage of combining supplements with traditional western medicine is that a pet has an increased chance of living a longer and more comfortable life.

I recommend a supplement called Imuno 2865 for my Cushings patients.  Proper immune function is the cornerstone of health and the foundation of normal physiologic functioning in ALL organ systems. Imuno-2865® is a first responder natural supplement that supports health and wellness by reducing inflammation and promoting normalization of the immune system. Many animals with chronic disease states have poorly functioning immune responses underlying their problems. This is especially important in the treatment of Cushings disease since your pet's body is producing an excess of coritsol a natural stress hormone that in large quantities can have negative effects on your pet's immune system.

Other herbs that are known for their beneficial effects on adrenal and pituitary glands or symptoms of Cushings include the following but are not limited to:

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) supports normal adrenal functioning. Dandelion also contains vitamins and minerals important for hair growth and prevention of hair loss and is a powerful antioxidant.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) excellent at detoxifying the tissues and removing unwanted substances from the body.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)  Astragalus is known as an adaptogen and helps to restore balance to the adrenal glands. It helps to maintain healthy adrenal cortical function and is important for supporting blood pressure and blood sugar levels already within the normal range.


Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is used to help with cortisol levels and for its liver protecting and immune balancing effects.


Eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus) is used to support energy, circulation and natural vitality. It is a supportive tonic for healthy adrenal hormones and has been shown to have anti-stress, anti-inflammatory and liver protecting properties.




Recommended by Dr. Barry!