The Cushing´syndrome is characterized by hyperfunction of the adrenal gland(s). More precisely, an affected organism is producing excessive amounts of cortisol (an acitiviy-translating hormon which - amongst other functions - is a major component of metabolism, immune-system, growth and maturation as well as how the animal copes with stress), which may subsequently lead to a variety of changes in all body organs.
Frequently, the symptoms evolve slowly and equal the natural aging process of a dog. The classic symptoms are increased desire to urinate, increased thirst and gain in weight. In addition to that, the animal seems frequently lethargic and is more frequently exhausted. A typical symptom is the enlargement of the liver with concurrent amyotrophia and gain in weight. The animal gets a barrel-shaped appearance and often has a pendulous abdomen. Especially typical is the special characteristic of the loss of hair. The head and the parts of the extremities being distant from the body are rarely affected, whereas the hair on torso, neck, tail and on the parts of the extremities facing the body partially fall out completely.
Several types of the Cushing's syndrome are distinguished, depending on the cause of development. Basically, the function of the cortisol discharge in the adrenal gland itself can be impaired, what can be conditioned, for example, by the existence of a tumor. On the other hand, the discharge of the adrenal gland controlling hormone in the pituitary gland can be impaired, what may also be caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland. Finally, also drugs (glucocorticosteroids) may contain cortisol which among others are applied in case of pain and may provoke a higher level of cortisol in case of longer-term administration and thus cause the indicated symptomatology.
Under consideration of the symptoms, blood examinations and a range of hormone tests allow for the diagnosis of the disease. The therapy must address the cause of the disease. In case tumors of the adrenal gland are trigger factors of the disease, possibly surgical interventions will be possible and successful. In advanced stages, the prognosis is rather poor. In case drugs will cause high cortisol level, these shall be slowly discontinued. If the cortisol excess is based on an over production of the triggering substance, drugs are appropriate (Lysodren) which in turn will reduce the cortisol production in the adrenal glands. The treatment can be associated with considerable adverse reactions and shall continuously be monitored since wrong dosages might be very critical.
In case of the symptoms indicated before, you should call a veterinarian and agree upon a date. In case the consultation hours elapsed, then you may also call the next day, explain the situation and agree upon a date. In case of excessive swelling of the abdomen which is a sign of bloated stomach, a veterinarian shall be consulted immediately.