Cushing’s Syndrome in Our Canine Companions
Prior to passing away, Sunny’s person was immobile. Therefore, Sunny was morbidly obese. When he arrived in my home, he weighed 21.5 pounds. Sunny should weigh 6-10 pounds. Essentially, Sunny was like a 400-pound man.
The Humane Society shaved his fur because it was matted. However, it hadn’t grown back.
I warned my vet that I added a porky little poodle to my pack before taking Sunny to meet him. When Dr. Prior saw him in the reception area at Park City Animal Clinic, he said, “He has Cushing’s Syndrome.”
But, because Sunny was 14-years-old, we started by treating his low thyroid. For a week, I took Sunny walking and fed him reduced calorie food. Sunny lost a pound.
When Sunny urinated, I noticed that it was golden yellow. I snagged a sample and dropped it off at Park City Animal Clinic. The next day, Sunny had an appointment with Dr. Prior.
Sunny’s cortical level was astronomically high. Cortical is the “stress hormone.” It is released into the body when one is stressed. It raises blood pressure and releases sugar into the system. Cortical adjusts the immune response, stimulates gastric secretion, and acts as an anti-diuretic, and controls sodium and potassium. Too much or too little cortical can damage the systems in the body.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome include:
• increased/excessive water consumption
• increased/excessive urination
• urinary accidents in previously housetrained dogs
• increased/excessive appetite
• appearance of food stealing/guarding, begging, trash dumping, etc.
• sagging, bloated, pot-bellied appearance
• weight gain or its appearance, due to fat redistribution
• loss of muscle mass, giving the appearance of weight loss
• bony, skull-like appearance of head
• exercise intolerance, lethargy, general or hind-leg weakness
• new reluctance to jump on furniture or people
• excess panting, seeking cool surfaces to rest on
• symmetrically thinning hair or baldness on torso
• other coat changes like dullness, dryness
• slow regrowth of hair after clipping
• thin, wrinkled, fragile, and/or darkly pigmented skin
• easily damaged/bruised skin that heals slowly
• hard, calcified lumps in the skin
Sunny has all of the above symptoms. Often, the treatment for Cushing’s Syndrome is worse than the disease.
Therefore, for Sunny, he eats reduced calorie food with green beans. Because Sunny doesn’t like to take his thyroid pill, I hide it in a spoonful of pumpkin. When I “make” his meals, he looks at me like he’s starving and barks.
With exercise and his diet, Sunny has lost a few pounds. The effects of Cushing’s Syndrome on his little body are dramatic.
Dogs, however, can live comfortably and happily with Cushing’s Syndrome.