Canine Cushing’s Disease FAQs


Cushing’s Disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is a complex hormonal disorder that affects dogs.

Cushing’s Disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is a complex hormonal disorder that affects dogs. This condition is characterized by the overproduction of the cortisol hormone, which is crucial for various body functions, including managing stress, maintaining immune system responses, and metabolizing fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

If you suspect your dog may have Cushing’s Disease, here are some frequently asked questions that can help you understand the condition better.

What Causes Cushing’s Disease in dogs?

Cushing’s Disease typically results from the overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands, often due to a tumor. The disease can be pituitary-dependent (PD), caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain, or adrenal-dependent (AD), caused by a tumor in one of the adrenal glands located near the kidneys.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Common symptoms include increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, pot-belly appearance, hair loss, thinning skin, and lack of energy. Note that these symptoms are not exclusive to Cushing’s Disease, so a proper diagnosis is necessary to determine the cause.

How is Canine Cushing’s Disease Diagnosed?

Veterinarians will typically perform a physical examination and take a comprehensive history. Blood and urine tests can indicate abnormalities associated with Cushing’s. However, specific tests like the Low Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test (LDDS), ACTH Stimulation Test, or High Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test (HDDS) are required to confirm the diagnosis.

How is Cushing’s Disease Treated?

Treatment depends on the type of Cushing’s Disease. Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s is often treated with medications like trilostane or mitotane to control cortisol production. Adrenal-dependent Cushing’s might require surgery to remove the tumor. The appropriate treatment will be determined by your vet after thorough testing.

Is Cushing’s Disease Curable?

While Cushing’s Disease can be managed effectively with medication or surgery, it’s typically not considered curable. Lifelong treatment and monitoring are usually required and there are alternative holistic remedies for those that want a more natural approach to treatment which you can learn about at Prana Pets.

What is the Prognosis for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease?

The prognosis depends on the type of Cushing’s Disease and the overall health of the dog. With proper treatment and monitoring, dogs with PD Cushing’s can have a good quality of life for several years. For dogs with AD Cushing’s, if the tumor is benign and surgically removed, the prognosis can be quite good. However, malignant adrenal tumors have a poorer prognosis.

Can Cushing’s Disease be Prevented?

Currently, there is no known way to prevent Cushing’s Disease as it mostly results from tumors whose causes are unknown. Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect changes in your dog’s health early, improving the prognosis.


While Cushing’s Disease is a serious condition, it’s crucial to remember that dogs diagnosed with it can still lead a happy and fulfilling life with proper treatment and management. Regular veterinary care is key to managing this disease effectively. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior or physical condition, seek veterinary advice promptly. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner appropriate treatment can begin.

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