Canine Cushing's disease, or hyperadrenocorticalism, is a condition in which the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of glucocorticoids. Symptoms include excessive thirst, hunger and urination; pot belly; and loss of hair from the torso. Drugs to suppress pituitary or adrenal gland activity and surgical removal of adrenal tumours are the conventional treatments.
Holistic treatment for the disease includes dietary support, homeopathic treatments, herbal supplements and flaxseed oil.
According to Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, dogs with Cushing's should be fed high protein diets low in fat, fibre and purine. Purines are by-products produced from the metabolism of certain foods, including organ meats such as liver and kidney. Wild game, shellfish and legumes including peanuts are other high purine foods.
Dairy products, cooked eggs, whole grain cereals and nuts are low-purine foods. Poultry, lamb, beef and pork have moderate purine levels.
A 2001 study done at the Kingley Veterinary Center in West Wessex, UK, treated 41 dogs and horses suffering from Cushing's disease with a homeopathic mixture containing equal concentrations of ACTH 30C and Quercus 30C. The study reports that 80 per cent of the animals treated experienced improvement in their symptoms.
Homeopathic treatments for diseases are chosen on a patient-by-patient basis to treat individual animals' symptoms, not the entire disease. Some common treatments are Arsenicum 30C for digestive difficulties and excessive thirst and urination; Hepar Sulph 30C for skin irritations; Mercurius 30C for thirst, bladder infections and diarrhoea; and Sulphur 30C for thirst, skin problems and digestion.
The term "30C" refers to the potency of the homeopathic preparations. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate dosage for your pet.
Giving your dog herbal treatments for Cushing's will provide his organs with extra support to help him cope with stresses of the disease. Your pet's digestive system and liver will benefit from dandelion, burdock root, nettle and garlic. These herbs will also replace the potassium your dog loses through urination.
Cushing's dogs are already producing too much of the stress hormone cortisol. Both astralagus and Siberian ginseng help minimise your pet's adrenal glands' reaction to stress.
Seaweed powder sprinkled over your dog's food will provide the trace minerals and iodine essential for normal adrenal function.
Flaxseed Hulls with Lignans
The Endocrinology Service of the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine recommends using both flaxseed hulls with lignans and melatonin to reduce the hair loss associated with Cushing's disease.
Flaxseed hulls with lignans are rich in alpha-linolenic acid to support the organs. They also contain plant hormones, which stimulate hair growth.