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Preventative Pet Care: Most Dog Owners Mistaken Cushing’s Disease for their Dog’s Aging

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on October 18, 2016 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Cushing's Disease

Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) is a common condition in older dogs, often mistaken for the aging process itself. Some of the symptoms seen in Cushing’s disease are weight gain, hair loss, increased drinking and urination, and increased appetite. Other dogs may show signs of skin infections, pot belly and muscle wasting.

Cushing’s disease is a result of too much cortisone in the body. There are 3 different forms of Cushing’s disease–one is iatrogenic–which means that the dog has been given too much cortisone by his or her doctor (usually in the form of pills or an injection to treat allergies).

The other two forms involve small tumors–either tumors on the adrenal glands or tumors in the pituitary part of the brain. The small brain tumors are the most common.

In a normal dog, the adrenal glands produce some cortisone and the adrenalin. These hormones keep the body in balance and allow the body to respond to stress.  When things go wrong with the adrenal glands or the pituitary part of the brain that controls them, the result is increased levels of cortisone. The cortisone then gives the signs that we associate with Cushing’s disease.

There is no single test to diagnose Cushing’s, and Cushing’s disease is often difficult to accurately diagnose. It frequently involves a series of blood and or urine tests to come to a diagnosis. 

Sometimes an ultrasound test is needed to diagnose this condition. Treatment depends on the type of Cushing’s disease, as well as on the overall health of the canine patient. As many dogs with Cushing’s are elderly and may have concurrent health problems, treatment can be complicated. The comfort of the patient should be the ultimate goal. Conventional drug therapy can involve Lysodren (a chemotherapy drug), or Trilostane (a newer drug for Cushing’s disease). Both of these drugs can have significant side effects. In cases of adrenal tumors, surgery is the best alternative.

From a holistic standpoint, herbals can be used as an alternative to chemotherapy drugs. The University of Tennessee did a study on the use of Melatonin and Flax Hull Lignans for treating Cushing’s Disease. Other herbals such as Adrenal Harmony from PetWellbeing show promising results for natural treatment of this disease.

The most important thing about Cushing’s disease is that you find a treatment that allows your dog to be comfortable and live out his golden years pain free!


What is Adrenal Harmony Gold?

Adrenal Harmony Gold was developed by our holistic veterinarians to support adrenal gland function. The therapeutic actions of the ingredients are:  adaptogenic, antioxidant and will support the nervous system. These herbs are particularly suited to supporting the adrenal glands and its functions, but some of them also exert an effect on the pituitary and hypothalamus glands.

“Adaptogens” are a classification of herbs considered to support the adrenals, helping the body adapt naturally to stressors and produce normal, healthy levels of cortisol. Unlike drugs, adaptogens will not stimulate or depress adrenal function but, rather, help the adrenals normalize their hormone production. Antioxidants counter oxidative (free radical) damage that can lead to degeneration.

  • The ingredients in Adrenal Harmony Gold target key cellular mechanisms to keep the adrenal and anterior pituitary hormones in a healthy and normal balance. Part of the resulting benefits of the formula are normally calm moods and ability to relax and sleep.
  • Adrenal Harmony Gold targets the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis to strengthen the body’s internal feedback mechanisms. This in turn, can affect areas of the body influenced by the adrenal glands.
  • Can my dog take Adrenal Harmony Gold with medications? Do not give Adrenal Harmony Gold if your pet is taking blood-thinners. A veterinarian who has performed a complete medical check of your dog can help to establish safety of medications taken with other products or specific diets.

Customer story with Adrenal Harmony Gold, from Belita in Florida:

“My big collie (age 13) was drinking buckets of water and then vomiting the water. She was miserable. I found this product on the internet and within one month, her thirst was gone and she was normal again! Incredible product. Worth every penny. Thank you for developing this product as an alternative to the pharmaceutical drugs for Cushings!”

Read also: Helping Mushu, the old grumpy cat, to feel joyful and healthy after Feline Diabetes

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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