What is Addison's Disease?
Addison’s Disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is an endocrine condition where the adrenal gland produces and insufficient amount of glucocorticoids and/or mineralocorticoids, two hormones essential for normal body metabolism. The signs and symptoms of Addison’s disease are varied and mimic those of many other conditions.
How does my dog get Addison’s Disease?
The most common cause of hypoadrenocorticism is an immune-mediated destruction of the adrenal glands. There are a number of breeds that have increased risk of developing this condition while there are also other causes related to the use of various drugs, cancer, or pituitary abnormalities.
How do I know if my dog has Addison’s Disease?
The typical signs of a dog with hypoadrenocorticism include: weakness, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, shaking, increase water consumption, increase urination, and other non-specific symptoms. Dehydration, lethargy, collapse, weak pulse, low temperature, slow heart rate, are all noted in more severe cases. This can be a life-threatening condition and warrants an immediate veterinary visit if the above signs are noted. Your veterinarian will run a series of blood tests and radiographs directed at identifying Addison’s or any of the multitude of conditions that have similar presentations. Confirmation of Addison’s disease requires an ACTH stimulation test and possibly a plasma ACTH level.
What can I do about Addison’s Disease?
Treatment is directed at supplementing the missing hormones while concurrently correcting any electrolyte abnormalities and fluid deficits. This condition requires lifetime treatment in most cases. In those cases where Addison’s disease was caused by medications that were administered, stopping these medications is imperative. Frequent re-evaluations are needed during early stages of the disease to ensure appropriate treatment levels of the hormone supplements.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Addison’s Disease?
Prevention is based upon avoiding those medications that might pre-dispose your pet to Addison’s disease. Selection of breeds that are not predisposed to Addison’s may be helpful.
Are there certain breeds that get Addison’s Disease more often?
Great Dane, Rottweiler, Portuguese Water Dog, Standard poodle, West Highland White Terrier, Wheaten terrier.