What Is Canine Cushing's Disease?

Diagnostics

A history, physical exam and blood and urine tests can help your veterinarian find out if your dog’s extra cushioning is caused by Cushing’s. A test for Cushing’s disease may or may not give clear results. If it doesn’t, further tests and diagnostic exams may provide clues. Abdominal X-rays may indicate that the liver is enlarged or reveal a calcium deposit near the adrenal glands that may suggest the presence of a tumor. Other diagnostics include an abdominal ultrasound to look for enlargement of one or both of the adrenal glands or signs that a tumor is growing into nearby large blood vessels.

Depending on the type of Cushing’s diagnosed, treatment ranges from oral medication given for the rest of the dog’s life to surgical removal of affected adrenal glands. Dogs with PDH, the most common type, usually have a good prognosis when given oral medication. They gradually return to normal eating and drinking habits, and their coat improves. It’s possible, however, that the signs may recur later in life, even with medication.


If the adrenal gland tumor hasn’t spread to other areas in the body, surgical removal of the affected glands can be successful. Otherwise, medication may help reduce signs of disease, but it likely won’t be as effective as it is in dogs with PDH. Cushing’s disease is one of those conditions that just goes to show how important the balance of chemicals is for the body’s best performance.

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