What are the symptoms of cushions disease in a dog?

Updated November 21, 2016

Canine Cushing's disease is also known as hyperandrencorticism. It occurs when an excess amount of glucocorticoid is created by the adrenal gland, which causes problems with processing of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. According to Kate Connick’s Courteous Canines, Cushing's disease is often mistaken for normal canine ageing, but if treatment is received it could prolong your dog’s life. Knowing the signs and symptoms of Cushing’s disease can help you be aware that medical intervention is necessary.

Excessive Thirst

One of the first signs you may notice in a dog with Cushing’s disease is an increased thirst. Dogs in the early stages of the disease tend to seek ways to cool down, including excessively panting, lying on cool surfaces and drinking water. You may notice as your dog is drinking more than normal, it will result in an increase in normal urination routines. You will probably find yourself refilling the water bowl more often, as well as letting your dog out more frequently. Dogs in this stage may also begin to have accidents in the home when they have previously been completely house trained.

Excessive Hunger

Although many pet owners think that healthy dogs eat a lot and sick dogs have decreased appetite, this is not true of Cushing’s disease. According to Long Beach Animal Hospital, polyphagia, or excessive eating, develops in dogs with Cushing’s disease. Dog’s with polyphagia do not have a healthy appetite. They are overeating, which could result in weight gain. You also notice your dog will begin to hoard food. Some dogs will begin digging through the trash for anything edible, or they will become aggressive over the food in their bowls.

Muscle Wasting

As the disease progresses, the muscles around the head, shoulders, pelvis and thighs will begin to waste away. This can be noticed in a number of ways. As muscle mass is lost, it may appear your dog is losing weight, which may be contrary to the amount of food he is consuming. Also, as the muscles become weaker, your dog likely will become lethargic, refusing normal activities such as walks and playtime. You may also notice he refuses to jump on the furniture, if he was previously allowed. This is because of the weakness in the hind legs. As the muscles thin around the head, his head will take on a bony, thinned-out appearance, according to Kate Connick’s Courteous Canines. As the wasting away of muscles continues, the fat that is normally elsewhere in the body will begin to shift to your dog’s abdomen, giving him a bloated belly.

Hair and Skin Changes

Among the most frequent reason pet owner’s take their dogs to the veterinarian when they have Cushing’s disease is because of alopecia, or hair loss, according to You will usually notice balding around your dog’s elbows, then around the belly and finally your dog will likely be balding all over, except on her head and legs. Along with balding, dog’s often experience a change in their skin condition. The skin becomes thin and bruises easily. Lumps may also form under the skin.

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