Cushing's Disease in Dogs: Description, Symptoms and Treatment Methods


The endocrine system is one of the biggest mysteries of our body. Almost all biochemical processes occurring in the body are tied to the endocrine glands, and the slightest change in the level of hormones leads to often irreversible consequences. If we talk about the field of veterinary medicine, then the most common is a disorder such as Cushing's syndrome. In dogs, most often this disorder occurs in old age, and today we will examine in detail what it is and how you can fight it. This article is for informational purposes only. In any case, a doctor should be consulted to make a diagnosis and choose a treatment regimen.

What is Cushing's Syndrome in Dogs

This is a pathology that is not at all as rare as one would like. There is a violation in the fact that the pituitary of an animal begins to release cortisol in too high quantities. This is a very important hormone that is the most powerful natural remedy for resisting stress. We will not dwell on the mechanism of the effect of this hormone on the body, let us just say that this substance mobilizes all the reserves to withstand the negative effects of the external environment.

It seems to be a complete benefit, why are we, describing this mechanism, talking about Cushing's syndrome in dogs? The fact is that the quantities of the hormone that begin to be released into the blood are redundant, even for an elephant. And the pituitary gland, which must control the amount of hormone produced, is completely shut off from this process. Because of this, your pet is facing extremely unpleasant consequences.

Negative consequences

Cushing's syndrome in dogs causes the animal to change its behavior. Brightly manifest mental disorders. The dog is tormented by constant, exhausting thirst. This creates a high load on the kidneys, and in addition, leads to excessive urination. This disorder may well be fatal, and quite quickly. The reason for this is easily explained in terms of physiology. The body is in a mobilized state, which means it wears out several times faster. In veterinary practice, there are examples when the state of the body of a three-year-old dog suffering from this disease is identical in terms of deterioration of the dog's body to 13-15 years old.

Main symptoms

Let's talk now about how you might suspect Cushing's syndrome in dogs. First of all, the owners pay attention to the increased appetite. The animal starts to gain weight very quickly. In parallel, you may notice a strong thirst and very frequent urination. The animal cannot tolerate for a long time and, despite the increased number of walks, it still pees at home.

In fact, this disease does not arise from nowhere, but gradually develops, and the symptoms are all getting worse. The dog becomes weak and lethargic, drowsy, but demonstrates an excellent appetite. Stomach sags due to weakness of the abdominal muscles. There is very fast fatigue. Gradually baldness is added. Extensive skin areas are completely without hair. Most often these are areas on the body, but not on the head or legs. Itching is absent. If untreated, diabetes mellitus develops very soon against the background of this disease.

Causes of disease

In fact, veterinarians have several versions as to why dogs suffer from this hormonal disorder. However, the main cause is the tumor that affects the adrenal glands. Most often, doctors are trying to correct this condition with the help of surgery or drugs, which also have their side effects. However, this is not the only cause that can cause Cushing's syndrome in dogs. The photo shows us the external changes that occur with sick animals, but below we will return to the symptoms.

Another cause may be pituitary adenoma. Therefore, it will be necessary to examine both the pituitary and adrenal glands. However, after finding a tumor, the doctor is just beginning to work. It is also necessary to determine whether we are dealing with a benign or malignant lesion, and only then predict the course of treatment.


There are certain breeds, among the representatives of which the disease is more common than in others. So, at risk are boxers and terriers of all kinds. This also includes dachshunds, bigley, poodles and basset hounds. Most often this disease is subject to adults who are 7-10 years old. At this age, doctors can only maintain the state of the body, as far as possible. However, Cushing syndrome is also diagnosed and at a fairly young age - in dogs that are under two years old. The disease is very dangerous because it affects all organs and systems at once, and therefore, without proper treatment, there is a high probability of death of the animal, as well as a serious reduction in life expectancy with adequate treatment.


It is extremely important to reliably confirm Cushing's syndrome in dogs. Diagnosis of this disease is very difficult, not all clinics are able to provide the necessary conditions for this. First of all, the doctor must examine the animal and take the necessary tests. A clinical and biochemical blood test, as well as a urine test, in which it is important to check the protein level, will be indicative.

To clarify the picture, the doctor may prescribe an x-ray, which will show an enlarged liver or mineralization of the adrenal glands. It is necessary to carry out an ultrasound to exclude a tumor of the adrenal glands. Proper diagnosis should not only confirm Cushing's syndrome in dogs. Symptoms that will be treated in the next stage may be blurred, which means that it is extremely important to find the source of the problem.

This is a difficult and crucial moment. At this stage, the doctor must choose the most appropriate therapy. Restoration of cortisol, support for the work of all organs and systems - this is the main task that has been facing him since he diagnosed Cushing's syndrome. In dogs, treatment can take place in two ways.

The first is surgical. It is not shown to all animals, but only to those who have a tumor of the adrenal glands. In the case of pituitary adenoma, it is still more difficult, and the adrenal glands simply remove and prescribe life-long hormonal treatment for the animal.

The second way is medication. In this case, hormone therapy is used to normalize cortisol levels. This is the drug "Mitotan". Reception begins with a dosage of 50 mg per day per 1 kg of body weight. The daily dose is divided into 2-3 doses. The treatment lasts two weeks. The condition of the animal is controlled by a blood test. With a decrease in cortisol in the blood to acceptable levels, you need to switch to the dosage of the drug 50 mg / kg once a week.

The second option, which is often prescribed by doctors, is the drug "Ketoconazole." First of all, it is prescribed to those animals who, against the background of Cushing's syndrome, develop fungal damage to the skin. Take this drug in the first week - 10 mg per 1 kg of weight (for two doses). The second week increase the dosage to 20 mg per 1 kg of weight (also in two doses). Finally, the third week of treatment suggests a daily dosage of 30 mg per 1 kg of weight.

How to determine the effectiveness of treatment

The first reference will be blood tests, ultrasound and x-rays. However, there are indicators that the owner himself can evaluate. This is primarily a decrease in the amount of water consumed by the dog. However, it must be borne in mind that, against the background of therapy, the animal may develop complications. This is vomiting and increased weakness, lethargy and refusal to eat. Such symptoms may indicate associated disorders and diseases. Therefore, for the purity of the picture is necessary to conduct laboratory studies.

Treatment results

What can you hope for if dogs are diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome? How long do these patients live? These questions are often asked by the owners of veterinarians. It must be said that the described disease is only partially treatable. Most often, life expectancy, even after successful therapy, does not exceed 2-3 years. This is due to the fact that Cushing's syndrome is a systemic disease that affects all organs and systems and causes a number of irreversible changes. This is the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and nervous systems. In parallel, this disease reduces the body's resistance to various infections, and also provokes a significant increase in blood pressure.

Cushing's disease-Itsenko

Cushing's Itsenko disease occurs spontaneously due to a pituitary tumor (the gland that controls all hormone production in the body). Due to the disruption of the pituitary gland, an excessive production of the hormone ACTH occurs. This is the most common form of the disease, diagnosed in 80% of cases.

There are three forms of this disease.

Itrogenic Cushing syndrome in dogs

One of the causes of hyperadrenocorticism may be excessive administration of hormonal drugs (glucocorticosteroids), such as prednisone and dexamethasone, in the treatment of inflammation or allergic reactions, as well as a number of other diseases.

This form of the disease is acquired. The symptoms of iatrogenic syndrome coincide with the symptoms of the true disease, but they, as a rule, disappear after stopping the use of drugs.

Important! In iatrogenic syndrome, it is necessary to gradually discontinue the use of the drug, which caused complications, gradually reducing the daily dosage.

Animals at risk of morbidity

Cushing's syndrome can occur in dogs of any breed, but the most at risk are:

Cushing's disease, which occurs due to a pituitary tumor, is most common in small dogs, with dogs weighing less than 20 kilograms in 75% of cases.
Castrated / sterilized dogs are more likely to undergo this disease.

Veterinarians do not detect a connection between the disease and the sex of the animal, the males and the females are equally affected.

Clinical symptoms of the disease

Cushing's disease may develop slowly and affect a variety of systems in the body, due to which the symptoms of the disease may not be immediately noticeable and vary significantly between different patients. The most common symptoms are associated with the urinary system and skin condition. In the early stage of the disease, only one or two symptoms can occur, making it difficult to make a diagnosis.

Increased thirst and loss of hair, the most common symptoms of this disease.

Possible symptoms of the disease:

  • Increased thirst and increased urination are the most common symptom. The animal begins to drink twice as much as usual,
  • increased hunger. It is also a fairly common symptom of the disease.
  • increase and sagging of the abdomen. Associated with atrophy of the muscles of the abdominal cavity due to the transition of fatty deposits in the abdomen,
  • loss of wool. The reason why the owners most often turn to the veterinarian. Alopecia starts from the sides and abdomen, ultimately the hair is kept only on the head and limbs,
  • dyspnea,
  • obesity or, on the contrary, increased subcutaneous fat loss,
  • fat deposits on the neck and shoulders,
  • lethargy,
  • insomnia,
  • muscle weakness
  • lack of estrus in females, reduction of testes in males,
  • darkening (pigmentation) and peeling of the skin,
  • the appearance of acne on the skin,
  • thin skin, prone to injury and slow healing,
  • fragile blood vessels susceptible to minor damage,
  • recurrent urinary tract infections,
  • calcification,
  • tarnish coat color,
  • desire to lie on a cool surface.

With a pituitary tumor, the progression of the disease is usually slower (from several months to several years) than with adrenal tumors.

Diagnosis of Cushing's Disease in Dogs

The veterinarian should conduct a complete physical examination, make a general and biochemical blood test and urinalysis. In Cushing's disease, these tests should show:

  • increase in the number of leukocytes or platelets,
  • increase in alkaline phosphatase,
  • increased ALT (liver enzymes),
  • increased cholesterol
  • reduction of urea nitrogen
  • high blood sugar (not as high as in diabetics),
  • low specific weight of urine.

Important! It is necessary to inform the veterinarian as much information as possible, describing in detail the state of health of the dog and the symptoms of the disease.

The following tests are performed to confirm Cushing's disease:

  • urine analysis for cortisol / creatinine ratio,
  • test dexamethasone suppression low dose. In a healthy dog, cortisol levels should decrease significantly after 8 hours,
  • ACTH stimulation test. In a dog with Cushing's syndrome, the level of cortisol will increase significantly after administration of ACTH.
The veterinarian, before concluding a diagnosis, conducts a series of studies. Takes a general and biochemical blood test.

Excessive levels of the hormone adrenocorticotropin will indicate Cushing's disease. Further tests are performed to determine the affected organ. For this purpose, a test of suppression of dexamethasone high dose is carried out, x-ray and ultrasound examinations are done. Sometimes an MRI may be required.

Treatment of Cushing's Disease in Dogs

The method of treatment of hyperadrenocorticism is chosen depending on which organ was affected, as well as the degree of damage and the general condition of the animal.

And with a pituitary tumor, and with adrenal tumors, two types of treatment are possible - therapeutic and surgical.

With surgery, in both forms of the disease, the adrenal glands are removed (in the case of a tumor of the adrenal glands - affected, in a pituitary tumor, both the adrenal glands). Removal of the adrenal glands requires further hormone intake.

The pituitary tumor in dogs is not operated due to the high mortality of animals and serious complications after operations. If the tumor is large enough (more than 1 cm), the dog may begin to show neurological symptoms, in which case radiation therapy is prescribed.

Most veterinarians recommend therapeutic treatment.

Many veterinarians try to avoid surgery and recommend therapeutic treatment., which involves taking medications that help control the level of cortisol in the blood. The most commonly prescribed are:

  • Mitotan (Lisodren) - used in the pituitary form of the disease. The drug destroys the adrenal cells, thus, control over the level of corticosteroids is achieved, despite the fact that the pituitary continues to produce excessive amounts of ACTH. The drug is given for life,

Note! Mitotan (Lisodren) can cause serious side effects, so treatment with this drug should be carried out only under the constant supervision of a veterinarian.

  • Trilostan (Vetoryl) - suitable for the treatment of Cushing's disease associated with adrenal tumors. The principle of action is similar to the action of mitotane,
  • L-deprenil (Anipryl) - the effectiveness of the drug is in question.

Drug treatment of Cushing's disease in Russia is complicated by the very high cost of drugs and their inadequate presence in the marketMost often, drugs must be ordered abroad.

Cushing's disease usually occurs in older dogs and is often mistaken for signs of aging. Although in most cases dogs cannot be completely cured, their quality of life can be improved if the disease is detected as early as possible. Therefore, it is important for dog owners to monitor the health of their pets and to consult with a veterinarian in case of any discomfort.

We also strongly recommend that you watch the video material from the veterinarian Alexander Andreevich Bykov.

Features of Cushing's syndrome

A distinctive feature of the pathology is an increased amount of the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for the mental state of the animal. In particular, cortisol to resist stressful situations, and its excess causes a reverse process in the body. There are cases when the course of the disease ended in death. It is therefore very important at the initial stage to notice changes in the behavior of the dog and its general condition.


There are several versions of what is the basis of a hormonal disorder in a pet:

  • The occurrence of adrenal tumors. It can be corrected with the help of special drugs or surgical intervention.
  • The appearance of pituitary adenoma. Before the appointment of treatment, it is necessary to find out whether the lesion was benign or malignant.

Some experts argue that the possible causes of the appearance of Cushing's syndrome have not yet been identified.

Symptoms and diagnosis of the disease

Признаки появления недуга развиваются постепенно, поэтому сразу их обнаружить достаточно сложно. The syndrome affects the nervous, immune, cardiovascular systems. The mild form of the disease occurs with little or no obvious signs, in case of a high degree of severity, the animal owner may notice the following symptoms:

  1. Thirst. A sick dog constantly wants to drink, as a result - frequent urination appears.
  2. Increased appetite - dog experiences an increased hunger during the day. Some individuals wake up at night to satisfy their desires.
  3. The rapid set of extra pounds - the patient mongrel immediately begins to sag in the stomach.
  4. Appears lethargy and frequent sleepiness.
  5. There is a loss wool , which leads to the formation of bald patches on the skin.
  6. In bitches with Cushing's syndrome, the sexual cycle is very often disturbed; males suffer from testicular dysfunction.
  7. In rare cases, the nervous system is impaired, the coordination of movements becomes fuzzy, and the eyesight deteriorates.

Sometimes even experienced doctors are unable to determine the presence of the syndrome by the described symptoms. In such cases, a special diagnostic examination is appointed.

Diagnosis of pathology requires an urgent delivery of blood to a dog. Also, the doctor conducts tests for the presence of cortisol in the blood - if its level exceeds the norm, then it is time to sound the alarm. Not always the test results will help to correctly diagnose the disease. There are other types of diseases during which hormones are disturbed. Therefore, the veterinarian additionally uses dexamethasone during the tests.

In general, to make a correct diagnosis, the doctor prescribes:

  • total blood count. With its help, the content of erythrocytes, glucose, leukocytes,
  • biochemical analysis. Conducted for the study of serum, which allows you to see an increase in cortisol,
  • X-rays are a great opportunity to detect deformity or enlargement of the kidneys, liver,
  • Ultrasound - allows you to see the presence of formations.

Consequences of Cushing's Syndrome

First of all, the dog's behavior changes dramatically and a mental disorder is observed, which can sometimes lead to the death of a dog. High load on the kidneys and constant urination have a negative impact on the condition of the body. With Cushing's disease, the pet's body wears out very quickly.

Treatment of ailment

Description of the disease and the focus of its occurrence are the basis for the appointment of drug treatment. If the disease develops as a result of the appearance of a tumor, and other important organs are not damaged, then the doctor suggests removing the diseased organ. Such treatment often does not cause complications.

It is more problematic to get rid of the pathology if it results from the development of pituitary adenoma. Medicines for such treatment are very expensive, and not every owner is able to buy them. It remains only two ways out - to make a dog an operation or a cheap treatment.

Treatment of Cushing's syndrome is very difficult, but the main thing is not to panic, but to make every effort for a speedy recovery of the four-legged friend.

Causes of Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing's disease is an endocrine pathology in dogs, accompanied by excessive synthesis of the steroid hormone cortisol. According to veterinary specialists, glucocorticoid is involved in the regulation of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and also has immunosuppressive activity. With the development of hyperadrenocorticism, a rapid metabolic disorder occurs in the body, leading to exhaustion and shortening of the pet's life.

The following factors are considered to be the causes of endocrine pathology in dogs in veterinary medicine:

  • Hereditary predisposition The reason is characteristic of young individuals and little studied by geneticists.
  • Illiterate or uncontrolled use of corticosteroid hormones for the treatment of animals. A course of therapy with hormonal drugs (Dexamethasone, Prednisone, Metipred) must be accompanied by mandatory regular monitoring of blood biochemical parameters.
  • Otherwise, artificial hormones lead to the development of iatrogenic forms of Cushing's syndrome in dogs.
  • In some cases, the cause of the development of hyperadrenocorticism in animals is neoplastic. A tumor in the pituitary gland causes the organ to lose control of cortisol production by the adrenal glands, which is accompanied by endocrine disruption in the body. According to veterinary statistics, 80-85% of all cases of Cushing's disease are excessive secretion of the hormone due to the development of a pituitary tumor.
  • Violations of the adrenal glands - intoxication, the development of tumors, a serious inflammatory process often lead to the fact that the adrenal glands do not respond to impulses from the pituitary gland and synthesize cortisol in an increased amount. In some cases, adrenal carcinoma can independently produce a hormone, sharply increasing its concentration in the blood of an animal.

According to the observation of experienced dog breeders and veterinary therapists, pets aged 7-10 years are more likely to be ill. Genetic susceptibility to endocrine disease is noted in breeds such as boxers, terriers, German shepherds, poodles, and dachshunds. Gender dependence is not traceable. Clinical cases are more often observed in sterilized and castrated individuals.

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Symptoms of the disease in dogs

Glucocorticoids perform many biological functions. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels, enriches the body with glucose under stress and prolonged fasting, inhibits insulin secretion. A hormone also participates in protein metabolism, accelerating the breakdown of protein.

The role of cortisol in the mechanism of the inflammatory reaction. Under its influence, there is a decrease in the release of cytokines, which speeds up the proliferative processes and activates the body's immune response to inflammation.

The complex role of corticosteroid hormones determines the multiplicity of clinical signs in animals with the development of disease. A patient's pet suffers from the urogenital and musculoskeletal systems, there is a violation of the heart muscle and blood vessels. The disease is accompanied by a decrease in immunity and nervous disorders.

Veterinary specialists recommend that owners pay attention to the following symptoms., on which it is possible to suspect the development of endocrine disorders in a shaggy family member:

  • Polydipsia. The sick pet has increased thirst, not related to other causes (heat, pregnancy, salty foods, etc.).
  • Against polydipsia, there is frequent urination. The dog often asks on the street, urine portions are increased. From the animal can come the smell of urine due to frequent urination.
  • Appetite increases. The dog constantly feels hunger.
  • Despite an increased appetite, 80% of individuals have cachexia. The animal is rapidly losing weight, it has a sagging belly. An increase in the abdominal area is a consequence of the redistribution of fat deposits.
  • With the development of obesity in the neck and shoulder blades are marked thickening.
  • Cushing's syndrome in dogs is often manifested as a symptom on the part of the skin. The owner can observe the peeling and pigmentation disorders, acne. Often, endocrine disease is accompanied by the development of calcification - the skin becomes thinner, and hard-to-touch formations are formed on it.
  • Not the best way with hyperadrenocorticism is the case with the condition of the sick pet coat. Wool becomes dull, dry. The owner notes baldness first in the sides and abdomen, then the dog loses hair on his back.
  • Sick pet is experiencing problems with the functioning of the musculoskeletal system. Bones become fragile, easily broken. Developing under the influence of endocrine disorders, osteoporosis leads to severe fractures.
  • Hypertension is found in many individuals suffering from increased cortisol production.
Dog with Cushing's Syndrome with skin calcification

Cushing's syndrome is accompanied by lethargy of the animal, an apathetic condition. Service and hunting dogs hardly carry out the functions assigned to them and over time become unsuitable for service or hunting. Physical activity of four-legged friends is significantly reduced. The dog hardly performs the usual exercises. Long walks or bike rides with your pet are a thing of the past.

Analyzes and other diagnostic methods

Endocrine disease is diagnosed in four-legged patients mainly using laboratory methods. Clinical signs appear in the late stages of the pathology, when a metabolic failure has gone too far. At the slightest suspicion of Cushing's syndrome in dogs, blood tests may show an increased amount of glucose and hemoglobin. In the general analysis, erythrocytosis and increased white blood cell count are observed as compared with the norm.

Biochemical examination of the blood of a sick pet with hyperadrenocorticism in some cases shows a high level of not only cortisol, but also cholesterol, alkaline phosphatase, a decrease in the level of urea. In urine analysis, a decrease in its specific weight is noted.

To confirm or deny the diagnosis will help radiographic and radiographic examination methods. With their help, a veterinary specialist will identify the presence of osteoporosis, the phenomena of mineralization of the adrenal glands. The methods also allow to identify the neoplastic cause of the development of hyperadrenocorticism in dogs.

A highly effective method for diagnosing the condition of the pituitary and adrenal glands is an expensive computed tomography. With its help, a specialist can visualize a tumor, determine the presence of hyperplasia in the adrenal glands. In some cases, the animal conduct magnetic tomography.

In the arsenal of veterinary diagnostics, there are also screening tests, a dexamethasone test, which allow diagnosis in Cushing's syndrome in dogs. Screening test is based on determining the ratio of cortisol / creatinine in the urine. The analysis is taken during spontaneous urination at home (without the influence of the stress factor).

Dexamethasone test is based on the difference in cortisol content in the blood before and after the introduction of an artificial hormone. This method is not suitable for the detection of Cushing's syndrome, due to prolonged use of glucocorticoids. In this case, the veterinary specialist applies a stimulating test with adrenocorticotropic hormone.

Cushing's treatment

The choice of treatment for endocrine disease is largely determined by which organ failed - the pituitary or adrenal glands. In the event that Cushing's syndrome in dogs is due to neoplastic causes, the treatment is more often surgical. In this case, an animal operated on after removal of the adrenal glands is prescribed a lifelong hormone therapy.

The owner should be aware that due to the complex anatomical access, the operation is often accompanied by bleeding complications.. A veterinary specialist acts on a tumor in the pituitary gland using radiation therapy.

In addition to the prompt solution of the problem, there is a medical approach to the treatment of pathology. The main objective is to reduce the level of cortisol in the blood. For this purpose, drugs such as Trilostan and Mitotan are used in veterinary practice. Hormonal drugs alter the metabolism of cortisol in the blood of sick animals, reducing the clinical signs of illness.

Effectively reduces the level of cortisol Trilostan, being an inhibitor of steroids in the adrenal glands. The drug is administered once a day at a dose of 2.5 to 5 μg per 1 kg of live weight. After a week of treatment, the veterinary specialist performs a test for the content of cortisol in the dog’s blood and adjusts the dosage of the drug. Trilostan has proven itself in the treatment of Cushing's syndrome in animals with neoplasms in the adrenal glands.

Mitotan is prescribed, as a rule, in a dose of 50 mg and is divided into 2-3 times. Despite the relative safety of the drug, a control test is conducted after 14 days to determine the level of cortisol in the blood. Mitotan is indicated for the pituitary cause of the disease, and if a tumor is found in the adrenal glands, the drug has little or no therapeutic effect. Both Trilostan and Mitotan are assigned to a sick pet, as a rule, for life.

Forecast for dogs

Unfortunately, veterinary therapists with Cushing's syndrome in dogs have a very cautious prognosis. This is due to the fact that, firstly, the disease is more often associated with irreversible changes in the pituitary gland or adrenal glands. The tumor cause of endocrine pathology also does not give reason for optimistic prognosis. In addition, the disease requires expensive drugs that are not easy to buy.

Lifelong hormonal medication allows you to extend the life of a pet for only a few years.

And here more about why a dog has dandruff.

Hyperadrenocorticism in dogs is a complex endocrine disruption. The cause of the disease are problems with the pituitary gland or impaired hormonal function of the adrenal glands. In some cases, the disease is caused by tumor etiology. Diagnosis is complex and is based on determining the level of cortisol in the blood, identifying a tumor or hyperplasia in the pituitary and adrenal glands.

Treatment may be prompt. The best result is given by lifelong application of Trilostan or Mitotan with the obligatory carrying out of the control test.

Useful video

See this video about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Cushing's syndrome in dogs:

Which indicates Addison's disease in dogs, its methods of treatment. The author of the article: Lyubov Ilyina (veterinarian). . The study can confirm the diagnosis of Addison's disease, as well as rule out Cushing's syndrome.

Baldness in dogs is due to a variety of reasons, ranging from natural factors (shedding) to serious hormonal diseases (Cushing's syndrome).

The main causes of dandruff in dogs. Veterinary specialists and experienced dog breeders are distinguished. there may be seasonal molting, fungal infection, serious health problems, for example, Cushing's syndrome (hypercorticism).

What is a syndrome?

This disease, often occurring in animals older than seven years, but sometimes young dogs can get sick.

In order for the blood coagulability system to work properly in the dog's body, blood pressure was normal, and he could cope with inflammation, the adrenal glands of the animal produce the hormone cortisol. Due to the fact that in critical situations with agitation, fright, the dog's blood is thrown out a large amount of this substance, it is also called a stress hormone.

But the adrenal glands cannot “manage” cortisol on their own - the pituitary gland, which regulates its concentration in the body, gives the hormone production team. If the pituitary gland stops controlling cortisol levels, an increase in its content in the blood becomes the cause of Cushing's symptoms in dogs.

Veterinarians subdivide this pathology into:

  • Cushing's disease occurs as a result of adenoma damage to the pituitary gland,
  • caused by the occurrence of adenoma or adrenal carcinoma in dogs,
  • iatrogenic hyperadrenocorticism - occurs as a result of prolonged use of hormonal drugs.

Thus, we see that the causes of the disease are problems with the adrenal glands or pituitary gland in a dog.

Some breeds have a special predisposition to the emergence of this syndrome, therefore, owners of terriers, beagles, boxers, sheepdogs need to carefully monitor the state of health of their pets and periodically do tests that reveal this pathology.

Cushing's syndrome in dogs has a rather vivid manifestation, when confronted by them, veterinarians may suspect the presence of this disease in your pet. The attention of the owners of the dog, too, will not cover such characteristic features as:

  • pathological thirst
  • very frequent urination, in which the dog cannot bear to walk and is written at home,
  • excessive appetite
  • apathy and weakness
  • weakening the abdominal muscles and sagging it,
  • loss of hair, not accompanied by itching,
  • impaired coordination and behavior of the dog.

Since Cushing's disease is a systemic disease, that is, affecting virtually all organs and systems, it is accompanied by many more different symptoms and causes various complications. Complications of the disease include: diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, arterial hypertension, disorders of the reproductive organs.


If the disease is already in a late stage, then the external signs will be visible to the naked eye. The main ways to diagnose Cushing's syndrome are:

  • clinical blood test,
  • determination of blood biochemical parameters,
  • urine analysis with protein determination,
  • tests with the introduction of dexamethasone and adrenocorticotropic hormone.

In order to identify tumors on the adrenal glands of the dog, an ultrasound of the abdominal organs is performed. If there is a suspicion of a pituitary tumor, it is advisable to make an animal with a CT scan or MRI to confirm or refute these concerns.

В зависимости от того, поражение какого органа стало причиной синдрома Кушинга, лечение этой болезни может быть консервативным или оперативным.

Если выявленная опухоль надпочечника, то возможно проведение хирургического вмешательства, в процессе которого удаляется надпочечник. When problems are detected with both adrenal glands, both organs are removed, and to correct the hormonal background of the dog, she is prescribed a lifelong drug intake.

In case of pituitary neoplasms, treatment with drugs that suppress the production of cortisol is recommended. But this option is available for a limited number of dogs due to the high cost of treatment.

Standard drug therapy is carried out with the help of proven drugs:

  1. The hormone agent Mitotan reduces cortisol levels. The initial dose is 50 μg of the drug per kilogram of animal weight. Taking this amount of medicine can be divided into 2-3 times a day. Two weeks later, a control blood test is done and if the veterinarian notes that cortisol is reduced to normal levels, then the drug is given to the dog once a week at the same dose.
  2. Another popular method in veterinary practice is the treatment with Ketoconazole. This drug is especially indicated for dogs in which the disease has provoked the appearance of skin fungus. During treatment, a gradual increase in dose occurs: 1 week - 10 mcg per 1 kg of weight (2 doses per day), 2 week - 20 mcg / 1 kg, 3 week - 30 mcg / 1 kg.

With the correct diagnosis and well-chosen treatment, the owner almost immediately notices the effect of the therapy - the dog stops “drinking with the basins”, and its general condition improves. If, on the background of treatment, the pet's condition worsens, it is most likely caused by complications of the disease.

The veterinarian, in order to control the treatment and search for the causes of deterioration, prescribes repeated tests and instrumental examinations.

When iatrogenic form of the syndrome requires the termination of hormone therapy. But it is necessary to carry out the cancellation gradually, carefully reducing the dose of the medicine and controlling the condition of the dog through testing.

Animal life forecast

As we have already noted, Cushing's syndrome in dogs is a complex and insidious disease that has a negative effect on all systems of the animal. It disrupts the functioning of these systems, reduces the resistance of dogs to bacterial and parasitic infections.

From this it can be concluded that the life prognosis for a dog with this syndrome will not be very optimistic - even with timely treatment, it will be able to live for about three years.

Do not despair if your pet has been given this difficult diagnosis, because caring, proper treatment and good care will prolong the dog's life for a few more years and give you the joy of communicating with it.