Overview: Cushing’s Disease In Dogs: Symptoms, Treatments, And Remedies
Cushing’s disease in dogs, also known as Cushing’s syndrome or hyperadrenocorticism, is a health condition where the body overproduces the steroid hormone cortisol. The medical term is a coin from the words “hyper” which stands for overactive, “adreno” meaning adrenal gland, and “corticism” which relates to the outer part of the adrenal gland, aptly named cortex. This disease is a fairly common condition in middle-aged and older dogs and happens when your pet’s adrenal glands overproduce cortisol.
They are positioned close to the kidneys and produce multiple important hormones that influence and regulate various body functions and are vital to sustaining life. The most important one of them is cortisol, a steroid hormone that is also frequently referred to as cortisone.
It is vital to every dog’s well-being, as it helps them better respond to stress, battle various infections, control their weight, and keep their blood sugar levels in check. However, reduced or excessive production of it as in cases with Cushing’s disease can cause severe problems. It can even prove to be life-threatening to your four-legged companion if it’s not diagnosed on time and dealt with the adequate treatment.
This disease can be tricky to diagnose because it comes with the same plethora of symptoms as many other dog conditions. Read along to find out more about the symptoms and types, how it’s diagnosed, as well as learn the various treatment methods for this unwanted condition, including the top natural remedies for canine Cushing’s disease.
Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Different Types Of Cushing’s Disease In Dogs
The surplus of cortisol in your dog’s body can generate a wide variety of symptoms that emerge gradually and can be difficult to notice. In general, Cushing’s disease occurs primarily in middle-aged and older dogs, so it’s normal for owners to think that the symptoms are regular signs of aging. Cushing’s disease symptoms usually include:
- Increased thirst and urination. One of the first signs that point to Cushing’s disease is when the dog all of a sudden needs to go out to the toilet in the middle of the night;
- Enhanced appetite. Although pups tend to eat a lot, look for any changes in the amount they eat or if they get hungry more often than usual;
- Abdominal swelling. Look for sagging, bloated bellies;
- Lack of energy. This is definitively something you should look out for, as it’s not a common dig behavior;
- Decrease in muscle strength. Dogs need to stay in shape at all times;
- Hair loss and thinning hair. Look for bald patches or increased shedding;
- Overall lethargy and weakness. If your pet doesn’t like to play over a longer period of time, it’s time to see the vet.
Photo by Cynthia Smith
What Are The Early Signs of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?
Of the causes of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs, extremely elevated cortisol levels are among the biggest. The presence of excess cortisol in the bloodstream tends to encourage fat growth. You’ll especially notice that your pet will develop a puffier face and a pot belly. The pot belly is usually due to an enlargement of the liver. Panting may also occur, and it’s often dismissed as a symptom of obesity. If panting occurs in unusual circumstances, when it’s not hot and your pet hasn’t been active, it should be considered an additional source of concern.
Thirsty While Needing to Urinate
One of the very early signs of Cushing’s Disease in dogs is a desire to drink a lot while also needing to relieve themselves a lot. Urinalysis is less likely to spot anything in a Cushing’s case, but it can at least be used to rule out other possible conditions, particularly diabetes.
If your pet is regularly getting infections, this may be due to elevated cortisol levels. You should be particularly aware of any regular eye and ear infections. Dogs may also develop urinary tract infections, which can become especially unpleasant given the common need to urinate in Cushing’s cases. A canine may also begin to develop skin infections or white patches of scale skin.
If your dog’s behavior changes to the point that it seems to display an almost human level of depressiveness, this may be because one of the causes of Cushing’s Disease in dogs is a huge swing in hormone levels arising from changes in the pituitary gland, usually from a tumor.
This can throw your canine’s moods completely out of whack, and they may even become more aggressive, especially if they develop high blood pressure levels. Most concerning is that elevated ACTH levels can drive a failure of the adrenal glands. This can ultimately trigger Addison’s disease, a life-threatening condition. Fortunately, if your dog’s condition is spotted and treated early, Cushing’s disease can be slowly rolled back.
The fur on a dog’s head and rear will typically remain intact, but Cushing’s disease often causes loss of hairs in the middle of the body. The loss of hair should be relatively symmetrical to indicate Cushing’s.
As the disease progresses, you may begin to see signs of neurological trouble. Some are hard to spot, such as circling, which is a fairly normal canine behavior. If your dog circles more than are normal for them before making a bed or when they’re clearly not in a spot where they’d normally want to lay down, then that’s a problem. In some instances, seizures may also occur. Extreme symptoms are usually indicative of a pituitary-induced version caused by a tumor.
Cushing’s risks are higher among specific dog breeds. The most common victims of the disorder are beagles, poodles, dachshunds, Boston terriers, and boxers. The vast majority of canines who develop the disease are older than age 8.
Survival rates for dogs diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease are about 10% after four years. Bear in mind, however, that the majority of dogs diagnosed with Cushing’s are age 9 or older, and they typically die due to age-related diseases rather than Cushing’s itself. When caught early, Cushing’s disease is considered treatable
Test for Cushings Disease in Dogs:
If there is any evidence of the disease the Veterinarian will request the following further testing;
An Abdominal Ultrasound or X-Ray: This will help confirm the presence of a tumor.
Urine Cortisol: Creatinine Ratio. If these first test results are normal, then no further testing for Cushing’s disease is required. Dogs with high urine Cortisol: Creatinine Ratios, will require further testing.
The next test will be a Low-Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test (LDDST) and requires you to leave your dog at the vet for the day. A blood sample is taken to measure a dog’s baseline cortisol level, and then dexamethasone is administered in a small amount by injection. Blood cortisol levels are measured four and eight hours after the injections. In a healthy dog, the dexamethasone injection inhibits the secretion of a hormone that stimulates cortisol secretion, which leads to a decrease in circulating cortisol levels. In a dog with Cushing’s disease, cortisol is not suppressed.
The ACTH stimulation test confirms that your pet has Cushing’s disease. There are 2 issues with this test. It cannot determine the type or cause of Cushing’s disease and some dogs with pituitary or adrenal origin do not respond to the ACTH stimulation test.
NOTE- Dogs that are showing signs of Cushing’s disease due to the effects of corticosteroid-containing medications (called iatrogenic Cushing’s) will show either a very mild or no response to synthetic ACTH injection.
There is no single diagnostic test that will 100% conclusively confirm the diagnosis of Cushing’s Disease!
Lowered immunity. Sneezes may look adorable, but they should also be monitored closely.
Dogs with Cushing’s disease have a higher susceptibility to contracting various infections (mostly urinary), and their skin heals slowly after an injury. Osteoporosis has also been reported. Canines with Cushing’s disease, too, are at an enhanced risk of developing other undesired conditions like pancreatitis and diabetes mellitus, among others.
In most instances, the symptoms of this disease are relatively mild, and for this reason, getting a confirmed diagnosis can be a challenging process.
Photo by Bruno Emmanuelle
First and foremost, you need to know that there’s no diagnosing method that’s 100% accurate for diagnosing Cushing’s disease in dogs. That’s why an experienced veterinarian will do a couple of tests first to acknowledge what may be causing your dog’s symptoms and rule out a few other health problems and concerns.
Your veterinarian should begin by testing your pet’s pee and their blood. The initial exams should discern if there аре some urinary tract infections, diluted urine, or problems with a group of enzymes predominantly found in the liver and bones named alkaline phosphatases. Since all of the conditions mentioned above are common in dogs with Cushing’s disease, if the results show any signs of a particular situation, your veterinarian will follow up with the following hormone screening tests:
The Low Dose Dexamethasone Suppression (LDDS) test observes how your four-legged companion’s body works with a human-made version of cortisol, called dexamethasone. The vet will take blood samples from your dog before and after getting a shot of the hormone to get a better sense of what’s going on.
The ACTH stimulation test measures how the adrenal glands work in response to a hormone called ACTH that, as a rule, instigates them to produce cortisol. Exactly like with the previous test, the veterinarian will take blood samples before and after your pup gets an ACTH shot to compare how the hormone affects them.
If these tests suggest that your dog could have Cushing’s disease, the veterinarian will probably want to do an ultrasound scan of their belly and see if there’s a tumor on the adrenal glands. If you suspect that your dog is battling with Cushing’s, make sure to do all the necessary tests to determine the exact type of Cushing’s disease as this majorly affects its therapy and treatment.
Essentially, there are three different types of canine Cushing’s disease, and make no mistake; they all mean that your pet’s adrenal glands create too much of the hormone cortisol. The three types of Cushing’s include Pituitary-Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (PDH), Adrenal-Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (ADH), and Iatrogenic Cushing’s disease in dogs.
Pituitary-Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (PDH)
As the very name suggests, this type is caused by the enlargement of the pituitary gland which produces a hormone called ACTH, which in turn causes the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. In PDH, the pituitary gland is enlarged due to a tumor (usually benign), and it produces too much ACTH, which consequently makes the adrenals generate too much cortisol. PDH is the most frequent form of Cushing’s disease in dogs, resulting in about 80-90% of all cases.
Adrenal-Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (ADH)
This Cushing’s type suggests that usually, there’s a tumor on the adrenal gland itself, which also causes the adrenals to generate too much cortisol. This type of Cushing’s only accounts for about 10-20% of all cases, but there’s a 50-50 chance that these tumors will be malignant.
Iatrogenic Cushing’s Disease In Dogs
The third type of this condition is triggered by the overuse of steroid drugs and can occur even after prolonged use of ear and eye drops. As a matter of fact, this study describes a rather unusual case of a dog who got the condition from absorbing the topical steroids his owner used to treat psoriasis. So be extremely careful if you use steroids yourself.
On the bright side, iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome is a lot easier to treat and manage than the other two. As we continue speaking about treatment options and natural remedies for Cushing’s disease in dogs, we’ll exclusively focus on the PDH and ADH types.
Treatments For Cushing’s Disease In Dogs
Selecting the appropriate treatment for Cushing’s disease in dogs primarily depends on the underlying cause of the condition. The most famous conventional treatment options for this condition include:
Both pituitary and adrenal tumors can be surgically eliminated, and if benign, surgery can be exceptionally successful. On the other hand, if the tumor has spread to other parts of the dog’s body or they experience other health concerns, surgery may not be an option.
If surgery is not an option, generally, a dog can live a normal and active life with medication to treat the disease, though they will need it for the rest of their days.
In this case, medical management with either trilostane or mitotane can be pursued, but the dog will need constant check-ups and blood analyses to ensure that the treatment is functioning. If you’re starting the medication treatment or changing dosages, make sure to observe your pet for vomiting, lethargy, and decreased appetite, and call your vet as soon as you note any of these signs.
Radiation treatment for the PDH type of Cushing’s has also proven to be an effective treatment for Cushing’s disease in dogs. It improves or eliminates particular neurological symptoms, especially when treated early.
Photo by Shane
Unconventional Treatments And Natural Remedies For Cushing’s Disease In Dogs
If your canine battles with this nasty condition, there are also many unconventional and holistic treatments available to help you better your pet’s general health and wellbeing.
Above all, always view food and healthy diets as authentic medicine. If your four-legged companion is affected by Cushing’s, feed them a fresh, preferably raw and organic, whole food diet with pasture-raised meats. Read through the following guidelines as they can improve your pet’s Cushing’s disease symptoms. Here’s what to feed your dog with:
- Plenty of digestible proteins to hinder muscle wasting.
- Low-fat foods to avoid pancreatitis and high cholesterol.
- Lower calcium intake to prevent bladder stones.
- Eat a lot of fruits and veggies.
Herbalists recommend assorted herbs that help reduce cortisol levels and support stressed organs including ginkgo Biloba, burdock and dandelion root, garlic, nettle, Siberian ginseng, basil leaf, bacopa, turmeric, and many more. We also put together a guide on the diet for dogs with Cushing's.
There are many extremely effective natural remedies for Cushing’s disease in dogs in the form of supplements that can alleviate the symptoms by revitalizing the dog’s body’s adrenal function in a natural and harm-free manner.
Prana Pets’ natural supplements and formulas are all made out of potent herbs that can normalize your dog’s hormones and help its body adapt to stress with no side effects and health risks.
Besides, as melatonin helps regulate hormones, maintain circadian rhythms, and provide much-needed antioxidants, proven holistic veterinarians find that supplements rich in melatonin and lignans manage Cushing’s disease in dogs better.
As conventional treatments are by no means the only option to treat your beloved four-legged companion, make sure to offer them as much support as possible and help them cope with symptoms and difficulties better. Providing them with an adequate supplement package is one of the best ways of doing so.
Acupuncture is another unconventional treatment for battling Cushing’s disease in dogs that can help as an adjunct therapy. It can help regulate the endocrine system and reduce inflammation in affected dogs. Once the pup is in stable condition, it will only need acupuncture treatments every couple of months.
What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Dog With Cushing’s Disease?
Speaking of canine Cushing’s disease life expectancy, your pet’s prognosis and life expectancy may depend on multiple factors. If the dog’s tumor is small and benign, its condition and well-being might be manageable; the dog might go on to lead a good quality life and live a long time.
However, larger and malignant tumors, or tumors affecting the dog’s brain, are a whole different story. Dogs with these kinds of tumors usually have a poor medical prognosis and shorter life expectancy. Additionally, if left untreated, it can badly impact a dog’s quality of life and expectancy as well.
When you are told that your dog has Cushing’s Disease, it can be a devastating blow, especially when your vet tells you that your dog may not live. The life expectancy of canines with Cushing’s Disease is generally around three years. However, there are natural treatments out there that may help your dog to live a natural and full life.
Most dogs with Cushing’s disease will eventually require treatment but can live comfortably for several years. The mean life expectancy for a dog with an appropriately treated adrenal tumor is 36 months; for a pituitary tumor, it is 30 months.
Photo by Helena Lopes
Managing Cushing’s Disease In Dogs
Even though Cushing’s disease in dogs can’t be 100% cured, it can be successfully managed in most cases. If you happen to be an owner of a dog who’s battling this awful condition, or you suspect that your dog might have it, ensure to visit an experienced veterinarian regularly, monitor its condition, and give your dog the full attention it deserves
Make sure to implement a good part of our natural remedies for Cushing’s disease in dogs in its everyday life, surround it with positive energy, never give up and make every moment count!
How To Test For Cushing’s:
Finding out if your dog has Cushing’s disease can be a tedious process. First of all, testing at the vet’s office is tricky because a dog could have all of the symptoms associated with Cushing’s but not actually have the disease. Since elderly dogs are the ones being tested for Cushing’s disease, the mere act of trying to acquire a diagnosis can be a self-fulfilling stressor for them.
The high-stress levels that dogs experience during vet office visits can even offset the cortisol levels of the tests. Pseudo-Cushing’s syndrome and alopecia X are entirely separate conditions that mimic the symptoms of Cushing’s and distort the accuracy of testing. Both renal insufficiencies and non-renal diseases like diabetes can also cause cortisol levels to be high, thus falsely indicating a Cushing’s diagnosis. When it comes to the Cushing’s testing process in dogs, there are many problems that arise that may cause a dog owner to question whether or not it’s even worth it to test.
If the dog has diabetes, this test will not be an accurate read for Cushing’s since any other illness present will cause high-stress levels that yield a false-positive test result.
The cheapest and most accessible test is the urine spot cortisol–creatinine ratio test. If the results of this test come back positive, the vet will have to continue with more Cushing’s tests to make sure it is an accurate result. The rate of accuracy for testing negative with this test is only 20-25%.
If the dog has diabetes, this test will not be an accurate read for Cushing’s since any other illness present will cause high-stress levels that yield a false-positive test result. The next most sensitive test for Cushing’s is the low dose dexamethasone test, which may be a false indicator of Cushing’s disease if there are other more severe non-adrenal illnesses present. It also has a low chance of accuracy when it tests negative.
The process of testing sometimes requires several steps in order to rule out other diseases and then ultimately test which of the two types of Cushing’s disease the dog has. A high-dose dexamethasone test may be selected for this reason, although it has a low accuracy when attempting to detect pituitary-dependent Cushing’s (the one that causes adrenal tumors) and only detects 62% of positive cases.
The ACTH stimulation test is another commonly inaccurate test as it is easy to mistake a dog for having adrenal tumors due to its sensitivity to any unusual adrenal enlargement. The 17-OH progesterone tests for the precursor to cortisol instead of cortisol itself, but also regularly brings back false-positive test results. A sex hormone panel may be used to test for other hormones that might indicate Cushing’s disease but has been highly controversial in that it detects high sex hormones that can be caused by different factors.
When a dog is finally diagnosed with Cushing’s disease by a vet, they will prescribe the pharmaceutical drugs lysodren, trilostane, ketoconazole, or L-deprenyl. These drugs have horrible side effects, weakening the dog’s immune system and possibly causing a cortisol deficiency called Addison’s disease. Addison’s disease is the opposite effect of Cushing’s where the drugs diminish cortisol to an unhealthy extent. Other side effects associated with these drugs include anorexia, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.
They may also cause adrenal enlargement, rupture, or bleeding. Nelson’s syndrome may occur, leading to neurological issues such as dementia, walking in circles, or weakness. Radiation therapy or surgical removal of tumors may be recommended by a vet for dogs with pituitary-dependent Cushing’s. This situation may feel like a double-edged sword since both testing and treatment can be such an emotional burden, let alone a financial one.
Conventional medicine is a highly expensive lifelong commitment that may end up causing other health problems in the future. Achieving balance in the dog’s body is the ideal goal of a truly wholesome treatment for Cushing’s disease, not a swinging of the pendulum in the other direction to exacerbate the disease even further.
Prana Pets Adrenal Support is filled with superfood herbs that have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and are known to maintain a dog’s hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.
Herbal remedy company Prana Pets provides a unique therapeutic blend called Adrenal Support that will curb Cushing’s symptoms without depending on a diagnosis in order for a dog to start healing. This means that you could forego the entire testing process safely and still get the desired end result—a symptom-free life for your dog. The fact that there is no cure for Cushing’s disease leaves the only possible treatment for healing the symptoms to be lifelong. Prana Pets Adrenal Support is filled with superfood herbs that have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and are known to maintain a dog’s hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.
This balance is crucial for the regulation of the dog’s digestive system, immune system, energy levels, sex hormones, mood, and emotions. When these areas of a dog’s body are imbalanced, Cushing’s symptoms occur. Prana Pets Adrenal Support not only cures symptoms in two to three weeks but also gives life back to your dog no matter what type of renal disorder they may have. It does not interact with other medications and prevents all the complications that come with Cushing’s disease or Cushing’s disease-like symptoms.
It is very common for dog owners in this day and age to take matters into their own hands and seek approaches that are holistic, effective, and vet-approved. Prana Pets Adrenal Support contains the perfect amount of astragalus, dandelion root, horsetail, cleavers, burdock root, ginseng root, ashwagandha, and medicinal grade turmeric root to diminish all symptoms of Cushing’s disease or any other disease that exhibits the same symptoms.
Together, this specific set of herbs help a dog’s body adapt to environmental stress by balancing and strengthening their adrenal glands. The mixture is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B5, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and iron. These nutrients are crucial for a dog’s adrenal glands to restore themselves.
This formula relieves the symptoms of excessive thirst and urination, stimulates the immune system, and cleanses the blood. Prana Pets Adrenal Support contains silica and sulfur, which encourage the growth of skin and fur. It has been proven to regulate the digestive system, diminish the potbelly, maintain a healthy blood sugar level, and restore dogs’ energy levels. The medicinal-grade turmeric root also acts as a natural pain reliever to alleviate any discomfort your dog may feel. It contains powerful antioxidants that slow the aging process in dogs and prevent tumors.
The treatment of Cushing’s disease in dogs requires a remedy that improves vitality, strength, and energy while supporting the affected areas of a dog’s body. Prana Pets’ Adrenal Support has no side effects, nourishes the entire body, and clears the symptoms of both types of Cushing’s disease. The decision to medicate can be a difficult one for many dog owners not knowing which route to take.
Pharmaceutical drugs do what they’re supposed to, but often at the expense of a dog’s immune system and general well-being. Making sure a dog with potential Cushing’s disease is healthy as a whole is what it takes to keep any symptoms at bay and not create new issues caused by the imbalance of pharmaceutical drugs.
Photo by Erica Magugliani
Diets For Dogs With Cushing’s
Food is medicine—and your dog’s, too. Cushing’s disease in dogs can be a scary thing to deal with as an owner and as a dog; but luckily, a dog’s food has the ability to heal its Cushing’s disease symptoms over the course of its life. Since there is no cure, treatment must represent a holistic lifestyle change in order for a dog with Cushing’s to live symptom-free. The proper diet must be accompanied by specific herbs that have been found to relieve the symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs.
These symptoms include excessive thirst and urination, increased appetite and panting, sluggishness, frequent skin infections, loss of fur, and an enlarged abdomen. According to PetMD, a dog with Cushing’s disease should eat a diet low in fat sincetheirhigh cortisol levels elevate their cholesterol and triglycerides. A moderate amount of fiber and a good amount of highly digestible protein is also important for balancing out the effects of the disease. Depending on which of the two types of Cushing’s disease your dog has, you should consult your veterinarian for the proper diet in relation to sodium. The vet can check for any abnormalities in blood pressure that may require a modification to their diet.
Adrenal imbalance is at the heart of Cushing’s disease and in order for the adrenal glands to restore themselves, a dog must have plenty of vitamin C and B5 in its diet.
When diet balances the strain that Cushing’s disease puts on the dog’s body, the next priority is to heal symptoms that can lead to other conditions as they age. In order to achieve this, a dog’s diet must support their adrenal glands, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, liver, kidneys, skin, fur, digestive tract, and immune system.
Adrenal imbalance is at the heart of Cushing’s disease and in order for the adrenal glands to restore themselves, a dog must have plenty of vitamin C and B5 in their diet. The perfect highly nutritional food for this is dandelion root. Dandelion root contains an array of minerals such as phosphorus and iron that regulate healthy adrenal gland function and promote kidney, liver, and digestive tract health—all the while encouraging the growth of skin and fur.
Another major factor in healing the symptoms of Cushing’s disease is supporting the nervous system, which requires a wide variety of minerals including magnesium and manganese. Horsetail is an herb that contains all that and more—even serving to balance hormones in the process. When taken as food, it also helps to relieve the water retention and inflammation caused by Cushing’s disease and maintains the health of the dog’s digestive system. It contains silica and sulfur to aid in the formation of skin, fur, and connective tissues.
When a dog has Cushing’s, the kidneys need to also be supported since the system can become overwhelmed as a result of the disease. Cleaver is an herb that helps the dog’s kidneys expel extra water, which ultimately benefits the adrenal glands and relieves the potbelly caused by Cushing’s disease. It also supports the health of the dog’s mucous membranes with its many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Burdock root is another highly nutritious and purifying food. It nourishes the dog’s liver by helping to filter the blood as it is often overwhelmed by the effects of Cushing’s disease. It also treats skin irritation and restores skin thickness and texture in dogs with Cushing’s disease.
As with any food or remedy, the right methods and amounts of these super herbs must be observed for optimal healing of Cushing’s disease symptoms in dogs. Because of this, Prana Pets has created a formula of carefully selected herbs approved by veterinarians called Prana Pets Adrenal Support. It contains the correct measurement of the super herbs known to revitalize a dog living with Cushing’s disease—dandelion root, horsetail, cleavers, burdock root, turmeric root, ashwagandha root, Panax ginseng root, and astragalus root. These select herbs work together to masterfully heal the symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs so that they may live a balanced, energetic, and happy life.
Cushing’s Support for the Immune System contains a unique blend of herbs at therapeutic doses, including the highly nutritive alfalfa leaf which regulates the appetite, normalizes digestion, and builds strength.
Prana Pets Adrenal Support is often given to dogs that have Cushing’s in conjunction with Prana Pets Cushing’s Support for the Immune System with astounding results because in addition to being wholesome for the dog’s body, the herbs in this formula also support the dog’s immune function. The disease takes a huge toll on the immune system, especially in cases where the dog has been on pharmaceutical drugs for Cushing’s.
Cushing’s Support for the Immune System contains a unique blend of herbs at therapeutic doses, including the highly nutritive alfalfa leaf which regulates the appetite, normalizes digestion, and builds strength. This superfood is filled with mineral content, including magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, silicon, zinc, and calcium. Cushing’s Support for the Immune System also contains blessed thistle, mistletoe, echinacea purpurea, sheep sorrel, milk thistle seed, and cat’s claw bark.
All of the herbs in Prana Pets Adrenal Support and Prana Pets Cushing’s Support for the Immune System complement each other to treat Cushing’s disease symptoms in dogs in the most holistic way possible. Prana Pets offers dog owners hope when they are faced with the decision of a path to choose after a Cushing’s disease diagnosis. The natural approach is highly effective, beneficial to the dog’s body, and has no side effects; pharmaceutical drugs on the other hand are damaging to a dog’s immune system, may lead to other illnesses, and have some serious side effects.
A dog should not have to suffer any more pain or discomfort while bearing this disease as they age. Even the tests for Cushing’s disease at the veterinarian can be a burden on their bodies. If a dog has not been tested but is suspected to have Cushing’s disease, Prana Pets Adrenal Support and Prana Pets Cushing’s Support for the Immune System can still be safely taken as a precaution and serves as a nourishing supplement regardless.
Prana Pets’ natural remedies bridge the gap between the daily nutritional aspect of healing symptoms and the effective medicine it takes to truly keep symptoms at bay in the long term. Prana Pets serves to provide dog owners and dogs with peace of mind, so that they may be free of the problems that arise from the use of pharmaceutical drugs for Cushing’s disease.
Photo by Xan Griffin
10 Natural Ways to Fight Cushing’s In Dogs
Cushing’s Disease in Dogs has so many confusing symptoms. In fact, it might not be Cushing’s at all. In some cases, it’s just the thyroid acting up, diabetes, or maybe just the aging process. Or possibly, it could be pre-Cushing’s, so seeing your veterinarian and having your dog diagnosed is essential.
Drugs Commonly Used when Diagnosed
If a diagnosis is achieved drugs that might be used are Trilostane and Milotane. With these types of drugs, a veterinarian must balance giving just enough to reduce clinical signs but not too much to create side effects
Another drug commonly used for Cushing’s Disease is called Anipryl which is used to mainly treat canine cognitive dysfunction. Developed originally as a drug called Eldepryl for Parkinson’s patients the active ingredient Selegiline increases the concentration of a chemical called dopamine which stimulates dopamine receptors in the brain and thereby assists in many cognitive processes. It’s amazing how a drug intended for human Parkinson’s Disease is now a drug helping Dogs with Cushing’s disease think, act and focus like their younger self. Because Anipryl is so Cognitive focused dog owners have made statements like, “It has brought my dog back”. But again along with the good that comes with Anipryl comes a laundry list of the bad common “Side-Effects”.
Top 10 Natural Ways to Fight Cushing’s Disease
1. Food, glorious food!
We’ve all been taught, including veterinarians, that there are solutions for every dog in a bag or a can. But, Cushing’s Disease presents a unique challenge. Holistic veterinarians recommend diets that are high in protein, low carbohydrate and grain, and potato-free.
Kibble is not recommended but fresh homemade purchased cooked or raw USDA canned food is highly recommended.
The brands that I am recommending are all either manufactured in a USDA facility or are referred to as “human grade.” These are real foods that meet the minimum AAFCO guidelines but are NOT processed dog foods from typical dog food manufacturers.
• Freeze-dried or dehydrated foods – Stella & Chewy, Only Natural Pet, Grandma Lucy’s, Primal and The Honest Kitchen
• USDA human-grade canned food – Tiki Pet
• Frozen home-cooked food – Fresh Pet
• Raw frozen food – Primal
* When using raw, freeze-dried, or dehydrated food, it is best to have a veterinarian’s blessing.
2. Veterinary Homeopathy
The more diluted the medicine is, the more powerful it becomes. That’s the concept behind homeopathy. Holistic veterinarians recommend remedies that include the following for Cushing’s Disease:
• Burdock helps with skin disorders and nourishes the liver.
• Dandelion nourishes the digestive tract, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, and it contains nutrients for healthy skin and hair growth.
• Ginseng is ideal to regulate blood sugar and to increase energy levels. Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb and has been studied for its benefits on the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis.
• Licorice is often prescribed by herbalists to help balance adrenal function when cortisol levels are elevated.
Acupuncture will help with age-related issues and Cushing’s Disease and it has no side effects. Acupuncture improves blood flow, which increases the oxygenation of the tissues. It also relaxes muscles both where the needle is inserted, and muscles located elsewhere in the body, so it helps to reduce joint pain. Dogs with Cushing’s Disease have experienced a decrease in nausea and an increase in appetite after acupuncture sessions.
4. Gingko Biloba
Gingko Biloba is a safe herb that has been used to treat dementia and senility in dogs with good results.
5. Cushing’s Killer Combo
Cushing’s Killer Combo is a system designed to help manage Cushing’s Disease and the related conditions. It is rated 5 stars by independent third-party reviews. The Cushing’s Killer Combo is 100% natural and contains beneficial western herbs that have been used in natural medicine for many decades to manage the disease.
DogTV was designed by one of the leading veterinary behaviorists, Nicholas Dodman, to calm dogs. Dodman says it is science-based and it really works. They also offer to program if your dog is bored and lethargic.
7. Water (H2O)
Water plays an important role in all species as it is the body’s best detoxifier and filtration system. Dogs with Cushing’s Disease drink more and urinate more, which can cause dehydration. Use high-quality purified water or distilled water. Springwater is not advisable because of the unknown and high mineral content. Have your veterinarian check your dog’s electrolytes and if they’re out of balance you can make a simple electrolyte formula at home with sugar and water to keep them well hydrated.
8. Yucca Plant
The yucca plant is referred to as nature’s prednisone. It can help with hip and joint pain and skin inflammation in dogs with Cushing’s Disease. It has an undesirable taste, so it’s best to mix it in some wet food or a pill pocket.
9. TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine
TCM or traditional Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years and is considered a highly regarded medical protocol in China. The Chinese have a special remedy for Cushing’s Disease, specifically one herbal formula called Si Miao San. It works to relieve any inflammation in the body. It will also aid in better digestion and regulating levels of insulin. It is suggested that Si Miao San is most helpful for dogs that are always too hot, always panting, and are overweight.
10. Fish Oil
Fish oil like tuna, sardine, or salmon directly affects the skin and the fats or lipids circulating the blood, which will help with itchy dry skin and coat, and it can help your pet fight infections.
* At Prana Pets we always recommend speaking to your veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis and to discuss all medical and natural options available.
Photo by John Fornander
Types of Tumors
Up to 90% of those diagnosed are Pituitary Dependent which is a small tumor at the base of the brain in the pituitary gland
Up to 20% of diagnosed dogs are Adrenal Dependent which is a tumor that sits on top of the adrenal glands near the kidneys
And lastly, there is Iatrogenic Cushing’s Syndrome from Steroid overuse.
Tumor Treatments For Cushing’s Disease In Dogs
For a Pituitary tumor, the most commonly used drugs are Trilostane (Vetoryl) and Mitotane (Lysodren), Another drug used for a Pituitary Tumor is considered not as effective as Trilostane or Mitotane is called Selegiline Hydrochloride (Anipryl), which is used to mainly treat canine cognitive dysfunction. Developed originally as a drug called Eldepryl for Parkinson’s patients, the active ingredient Selegiline increases the concentration of a chemical called dopamine, which stimulates dopamine receptors in the brain and thereby assists in many cognitive processes.
It’s amazing how a drug intended for human Parkinson’s Disease is now a drug helping dogs with Cushing’s Disease think, act and focus like their younger selves. Because Anipryl is so cognitive-focused, dog owners have made statements like, “It has brought my dog back.” But again, along with the good with Anipryl comes a laundry list of side effects.
For an Adrenal Tumor. treatment is abdominal surgery and it is risky and requires a very experienced surgeon. If the surgery is successful and it is not a malignant tumor, the dog may be healthy. If surgery is not an option, Lysodren which is a drug of chemotherapy is able to erode the cortisol-producing layers of the adrenal gland.
For Iatrogenic Cushing’s disease. treatment requires the gradual discontinuation of the steroid being given under a Veterinarians close supervision. When tapering off steroids that have been administered for many years there is a risk of an Addisonian Crisis and a dog going into shock.
Natural Treatment for Cushing’s Disease in Dogs
While you may have little hope, there is a lot of promise in the treatment of Cushing’s with natural alternatives. These Natural Cushing’s treatments for dogs include:
• Burdock. This herb is known for its cleansing abilities. It can help to clean any unwanted substance from the body.
• Dandelion. This herb helps remove inflammation and helps in adrenal function.
• Hepar Sulph. This will help to heal irritated skin that may be caused by Cushing’s.
• Arsenicum. This can help with frequent urination as well as thirst.
• Sulphur. This has many uses including improving skin condition, helping digestion and reducing thirst.
• Mercurius. This can help aid in thirst as well as irritability.
These treatments can be mixed in treats for your pets to make them easier to take. Make sure that you give these to your pet frequently as the more they get these healthy herbs, the better that their health will be. Many people have seen remarkable results with using these herbs.
Supplements are the best way to make sure your pet gets the ingredients it needs. Prana Pets offers the Cushing’s Killer Combo. This has 3 different supplements to boost the immune system, control the symptoms, and even fight the tumors directly. Each product is the bundle has a specific purpose.
The C-Support will detoxify the body and boost your pets immune system. The Adrenal Support will serve to restore balance in the entire HPA (hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal) axis, rather than just suppressing symptoms. The other product in the bundle is revolutionary. It is CBD Oil for Pets.
Our CBD Oil comes from the cannabis plant and will fight any tumor directly. Most importantly CBD will improve your pet’s overall comfort while dealing with this disease. If your pet has a tumor that is malignant, you can treat it with Oleander extract. This extract must be purchased from a reputable dealer that knows how to mix it properly with other healing properties as, by itself, Oleander is toxic.
Another important Natural Cushing’s disease treatment for dogs is to switch to a raw diet. Your pet should be on a specifically recommended diet for Cushing’s syndrome in dogs. It is filled full of grains and additives that can actually make your pet worse. Switching your dog to an all-natural raw food diet, will greatly improve his or her health and reduce the Canine Cushing’s Disease Symptoms.
Once you hear The life expectancy of canines with Cushing’s Disease is not great, you will want to do all that you can to ensure that your dog has a full life. Trying all-natural treatments have helped many people to give their dogs full lives and go past that three-year life expectancy. If your dog has been diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, consider giving them some of these all-natural treatment options and switch to a raw food diet for dogs. In just a matter of days, you will see a vast improvement.
Photo by John Fornander
Herbs for Cushing’s Disease
- A traditional Chinese medicinal herb that acts as an adaptogen, meaning that it helps a dog’s body adapt to stress.
- Balances and strengthens a dog’s adrenal glands.
- Relieves the symptoms of excessive thirst and urination while stimulating the immune system when used regularly.
- Maintaining pain associated with joints issues and arthritis.
- Reducing blood clots due to their blood-thinning properties.
- Helping irritable bowel diseases since it helps break down dietary fats.
- Great antioxidant.
- Boosting the immune system.
- A herb rich in vitamin C and vitamin B5, which are crucial for a dog’s adrenal glands to restore themselves.
- Contains an array of minerals such as phosphorus, manganese, and iron that regulate healthy adrenal gland function
- A highly nutritional food that promotes kidney, liver, and digestive tract health holistically.
- Contains nutrients that encourage the growth of skin and fur.
- Helps a dog’s body maintain a healthy digestive system.
- Contains a wide variety of minerals such as magnesium and manganese for hormonal balance and health of the nervous system.
- Contains silica and sulfur to aid in the formation of skin, fur, and connective tissues.
- Helps the dog’s kidneys cleanse by expelling the extra water that causes an enlarged abdomen, one of the main symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs.
- Supports the health of the dog’s mucous membranes with its many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
- Relieves the frequent skin infections brought on by Cushing’s disease in dogs.
- Benefits the dog’s adrenal glands with its cleansing properties.
- Nourishes the dog’s liver as it is often overwhelmed by the effects of Cushing’s disease.
- Highly nutritious and purifies the blood.
- Treats skin irritation and restores skin thickness and texture in dogs with Cushing’s disease.
Panax Ginseng (root)
- An adaptogenic traditional Chinese medicinal herb that balances the dog’s hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, which regulates the dog’s digestive and immune systems, energy levels, sex hormones, moods, and emotions.
- Takes care of the lethargy that develops in dogs with Cushing’s as it restores their energy, muscular strength, and stamina when used consistently.
- Helps to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
- An Ayurvedic herb that strengthens a dog’s body while improving overall health.
- Improves a dog’s response to stress if used daily.
- Enhances energy levels and immunity.
- Protects the dog’s liver and supports liver health and function.
Always avoid licorice, or products containing it. While the herb can be helpful to most dogs, it may affect Cortisone levels.
Photo by Patrick Hendry
Common Cushing’s Prescriptions And Details On Side Effects: (this would need to be rewritten slightly).
When your dog is diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, it can be extremely difficult to decide what to do. Because there is no cure for Cushing’s, your dog will have to rely on some form of medication for the rest of its life, whether that be pharmaceutical or natural. The objective of the treatment is to stave off the painful symptoms of the disease to improve the quality of life for your dog and avoid complications that may shorten its lifespan.
The veterinarian usually prescribe pharmaceutical drugs that treat symptoms; however, these medicines are incredibly harsh on the body and often create other problems in the process. In addition to having horrible side effects, these pharmaceutical drugs are pricey. In summary, for the first year of diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of a dog with Cushing’s disease, using the Lysodren therapy protocol, a pet owner can expect an expense of $2,200-2,500.
Once the dog is on these drugs, they also require constant testing every few months, which can be especially stressful for older dogs and even more of a financial burden.
The most common side effect of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat canine Cushing’s is iatrogenic Addison’s disease, also known as low cortisol syndrome or an Addisonian crisis.
Drugs like this run the risk of completely “turning off” the adrenal gland, causing the body to react to the opposite extreme. A lack of cortisol production manifests itself as low energy levels, vomiting, and weakness, shaking, and collapsing. Dogs are able to recover from this if the vet approves that it is safe to stop the medication and start using a steroid like prednisone.
After the symptoms of the side effects have been taken care of, the vet may suggest resuming therapy with the same drug but at a lower dose while monitoring the dog’s prognosis more closely. Some owners refuse to put their dogs through the same process again. For this reason, it is imperative to be well-educated on every option that the owner has in order to find the right form of therapy for their dog. A dog left untreated does live as long as a dog that is treated, but it will suffer painful symptoms throughout its life.
If your dog has typical Cushing’s disease, also known as pituitary-dependent Cushing’s syndrome, the medicine prescribed is mitotane. Its pharmaceutical name is Lysodren, a type of chemotherapy. Mitotane has had great success with controlling symptoms; however, it does this by destroying the adrenal gland tissues.
Mitotane comes from DDT, a chemical commonly used as an insecticide. The drug causes the death of the cells in the adrenal gland. In addition to an Addisonian crisis, side effects of mitotane include irritation of the stomach and interference with the neurological system. Another instance that may occur is a difficulty for the vet to discern whether the dog is intolerant to the drug if it is undergoing an Addisonian crisis. Mitotane is not recommended for dogs with a low appetite.
Needless to say, some dogs don’t respond well to the mitotane treatment and have a low tolerance for it, and so their next option is the drug trilostane. Trilostane was previously known as the brand names Modrastane, Modrenal, and Desopan when it was used for Cushing’s disease in humans.
It was taken off the market in the United States in 1994 due to reports of sudden deaths and deaths caused shortly after beginning the medicine. In 2008, it became the first drug approved to treat both typical and atypical Cushing’s disease in dogs with the new name Vetoryl.
Vetoryl works by stopping the adrenal gland from producing certain steroids such as cortisol and aldosterone. Many studies of this drug demonstrate an improvement of blood test results as well as controlling the excessive panting, thirst, urination, dips in energy level, skin problems, and appetite associated with hyperadrenocorticism. European studies suggest that trilostane is an effective and safe treatment for canine pituitary-dependent Cushing’s.
Trilostane reportedly has a lower incidence of side effects than mitotane. The side effects of Vetoryl are lethargy, weakness, diminished appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. More rare but dangerous side effects aside from the aforementioned Addisonian crisis include collapse, severe sodium/potassium imbalance, bloody diarrhea, and adrenal failure resulting in death.
Trilostane is not suitable for dogs with liver or kidney disease. It also does not mix well with some medications used to treat heart disease. Vetoryl should not be given to a pregnant or nursing dog, nor one that may become pregnant.