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Condition Guide

Cushing’s Syndrome

What is Cushing’s Syndrome?

Cushing’s Syndrome, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is a disease caused by excessive production of cortisol. Cortisol is a very important hormone that the body needs on a day-to-day basis, but its levels need to stay within a normal range that the body normally regulates. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, two small glands located near the kidneys in the abdomen. The adrenal glands are stimulated to produce cortisol by another hormone which is released by the pituitary gland, a very small gland located in the lower part of the brain. In dogs <20kg, 85% of Cushing’s Syndrome is caused by a pituitary tumour. In dogs >20kg there is a 50% chance that the problem is located in the pituitary gland, and a 50% chance it is in the adrenal gland.

What are the signs of Cushing’s Syndrome?

Affected dogs may show signs of:

How is Cushing’s Syndrome diagnosed?

Cushing’s Syndrome can be very hard to diagnose. Diagnosis of Cushing’s Syndrome requires hormonal testing. There are several types of hormonal blood tests which can be used, depending upon your pet’s particular situation. Sometimes it is necessary to perform a couple of types of hormonal tests to determine whether your pet does, or does not, have Cushing’s Syndrome.

How is Cushing’s Syndrome treated?

The excess of cortisol can be treated medically, with a medication called trilostane (VetorylTM) – Medical treatment of Cushing’s Syndrome. In most instances, Cushing’s Syndrome disease can be well managed, and your dog will enjoy an excellent quality of life. Dogs with cushings disease are susceptible to degenerative orthopaedic issues such as cruciate ligament disease, and reduced cardiovascular fitness. 

Rehabilitation for health and fitness

Rehabilitation therapy is not always about solving a neurological or orthopaedic issues but it can play an important role in maintaining the general health and fitness of your dog. Initial therapy may include a variety of exercises to strengthen musculature and cardiovascular fitness as well as maintaining mobility. An important part of this is aquatic rehabilitation to focus on improving mobility and fitness without putting additional strains on the body.

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The content on this page is for advice and information only and does not represent veterinary guidance or direction. Please always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are worries about your dog.