Cushing’s disease is a condition found in dogs, cats, horses, and humans. Cushing’s disease occurs when the body produces too much of a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is one of the body’s natural steroids, and it helps regulate weight, healthy skin condition, tissue structure. The downside of cortisol is that it weakens the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to viruses and infections. Cushing’s disease is common in older Golden Retrievers.
There are three types of Cushing’s disease in Golden Retrievers:
In almost 85% of cases, a tumor on the pituitary is the cause of Cushing’s disease. This is a pea-sized gland located at the center of the brain. The tumor on this gland causes extensive production of ACTH, which in turn, stimulates anal glands to produce an extensive amount of cortisol.
The tumor on the adrenal glands is the cause of other 15% of the cases, which also results in the overproduction of cortisol.
Iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome
This syndrome occurs after a dog has taken steroids for a long time.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease In Golden Retrievers
Cushing’s disease typically affects middle-aged to older dogs. Since it takes almost a year for a disease to develop, it’s hard to notice the symptoms in the beginning. These are the most common symptoms of Cushing’s disease in Golden Retrievers:
- Increased thirst
- Increased appetite
- Hair loss
- Increased urination
- Enlargement of the abdomen
- Reduced activity
- Excessive panting
- Skin infections
Diagnosing The Cushing’s Disease
It’s important to notice that no method can 100% accurately diagnose Cushing’s disease. The vet will first perform blood and urine analysis. If the results show the possibility of Cushing’s disease, the vet will then perform hormone screening tests.
Testing how well do anal glands respond to the ACTH hormone. The vet will collect blood samples before and after the test. The vet will then compare them to see if the glands are working correctly.
In these tests, the vet looks at your dog’s body reaction to an artificial version of cortisol, called dexamethasone. As in the previous test, we collect the blood samples before and after they get a shot of hormone.
The veterinarian may also perform an ultrasound of your dog’s belly to see if there is a tumor on the adrenal glands.
Treatment of Cushing’s Disease In Golden Retrievers
How to treat Cushing’s disease in Golden Retrievers is determined by the location of the tumor.
If the tumor is located on the pituitary, the disease is treated with the medication. Vetoryl and Lysodern are oral medications that are mostly used in the treatment of pituitary-based Cushing’s disease. They destroy parts of the adrenal cortex responsible for the production of cortisol. This way, we maintain a normal level of cortisol, even though there is still an excessive amount of ACTH in the dog’s blood.
The tumor on the pituitary is benign in most cases, and your dog will continue to have a happy and good life but will have to take medications for the rest of his life.
On the other hand, the tumor on the adrenal glands is malignant in 50% of the cases and will spread to other organs. Surgery may cure it, but only if it’s a benign growth.
Symptoms should dissipate a week after the treatment has begun, starting with a decrease in water consumption. Other symptoms, such as skin lesions will resolve several months after the treatment started.