Addison’s Disease For Dogs – Symptoms, Prevention, And Treatment Of Addison’s Disease In Dogs



Addison’s Disease For Dogs can be a life-threating condition. Therefore, it is essential to understand the disease and how to deal with its symptoms. The symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs vary, and they may be confused with other diseases. Accordingly, knowing these symptoms is essential as a dog owner.

Today, we will go through all the details about Addison’s disease for dogs so we can know it better, and then you can make your dog feel better and avoid severe complications. We will begin by going through the answer to the question of what is Addison’s disease in dogs. Then, we will talk about the cause of Addison’s disease in dogs. After that, we will talk about different symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs. Finally, we will state how your vet is going to manage the case.

Addison's Disease For Dogs

What Is Addison’s Disease In Dogs?

Before knowing what is Addison’s disease in dogs, you must understand that this disease is relatively a rare one in dogs. However, when it develops, it tends to be diagnosed more often in young and middle-aged dogs. 

Also, the disease develops more in females plus it is more commonly seen in certain types of dogs such as Portuguese water dogs, West Highland white terriers, Standard Poodles, Bearded Collies, wheaten terriers, and rottweilers.

BUT, what is Addison’s disease in dogs, and how does it develop?

Addison’s disease, or also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is a disease with an abnormal decrease of either of glucocorticoids and/or mineralocorticoids that can lead to serious health problems if not diagnosed early.

These two hormones (Mineralocorticoids and Glucocorticoids) are typically produced by the adrenal glands, which are located near the kidneys. Both of these hormones are crucial to the healthy functioning of the dog’s body, and an abnormal increase or decrease of either of these hormones can lead to severe health problems if not diagnosed in time.

Therefore, diagnosing Addison’s disease for dogs is essential to treat the symptoms as soon as possible to avoid any serious complications. Although this disease is a severe condition in dogs, it is fortunately with proper treatment and early diagnosis manageable for dogs to have an average life span.

To summarize this, Addison’s disease is a condition where it affects crucial hormones that adrenal glands produce by reducing their production. These hormones are steroids, particularly aldosterone and Cortisol. Consequently, without these hormones in your dog’s body, it will fail to regulate the internal organs and the body systems, which leads to severe complications and death.


What Causes Addison’s Disease In Dogs?

After knowing the answer to the question of what is Addison’s disease in dogs, you must be asking yourself ( But, what causes Addison’s disease in dogs?!).

Unfortunately, in most cases, the cause of Addison’s disease for dogs is unknown. However, Veterinarians assume that most cases caused by the autoimmune process. Another possible cause for Addison’s disease is the destruction of the adrenal gland, either by granulomatous disease, hemorrhage, infarction, metastatic tumor, or a drug like trilostane that inhibits adrenal enzymes. 

Another possible reason to cause the disease is that some breeds are predisposed to the Addison’s disease, such as Portuguese Water Dogs, West Highland White Terriers, Standard Poodles, Bearded Collies, Great Danes, Wheaten terriers, and Rottweilers.


Symptoms Of Addison’s Disease In Dogs

There are various symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs, and progressive Addison’s disease is challenging to diagnose for that reason. The wide range for the symptoms associated with Addison’s condition makes it hard for Veterianians to diagnose it, which why they call it the great imitator. 

Generally, infected dogs may experience recurrent periods of poor appetite, slow loss of body shape, inability to respond appropriately to stress, and gastroenteritis. 

The negative effect of the decrease in aldosterone production will be huge on the body. The changes will begin within the blood level of potassium, chloride, and sodium. Ultimately, it affects the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure. Also, all these changes may lead to problems with the heart and body systems.

The other primary hormone is Cortisol, which also affected by Addison’s disease. This hormone plays an essential rule in the body by regulating metabolism, regulates blood pressure, regulates the production of glucose, suppresses inflammation, influences the breakdown of proteins and fat, stimulates the formation of red blood cells, and neutralizes stress.

To make it simple, the symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Dehydration
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Anorexia (lack of appetite)
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Painful abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Weak pulse
  • Low temperature
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Bloody stools
  • Shaking

progressive Addison’s disease symptoms and complications may include:

  • Depression
  • Problems with the heart
  • Problems with the body systems (such as circulation system problems)
  • Lethargy
  • Organs failure (such as Kidney failure)
  • Addisonian Crisis
  • shock and collapse
  • Death


Diagnosis Of Addison’s Disease In Dogs

Your veterinarian will begin by taking a detailed history of your dog’s health and the onset of the symptoms you noticed on your dog, followed by a comprehensive physical exam on your dog. After that, your vet will conduct a series of lab tests.

However, most cases are diagnosed during a life-threating stage, which is called the Addisonian crisis. In an Addisonian emergency, the disease is an acute stage where the dog experiences dangerous symptoms such as shock and collapse.

Once the veterinarians stabilize the case, they will begin by performing a group of tests to determine the reason for the collapse or shock and rule out all the other possible causes. 

Starting with routine lab tests such as complete blood count and blood biochemistry will give them a good idea about the cause of these symptoms. Also, they most like going to run a urinalysis, the urinalysis may show low concentrations of urine

Abnormalities in the levels of chloride, calcium, sodium, potassium, and urea, as well as anemia, are obvious symptoms for Addison’s disease. 

Your veterinarian may run an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check for changes in your dog’s heart. Remember that Addison’s disease in a progressive stage can affect the heart.

The adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test is the definitive test for Addison’s disease. This test will monitor the function of the adrenal glands by adding a synthetic ACTH. Then, they start measuring the concentration of the Cortisol after (they measure the cortisol level before the test for comparison); the synthetic ACTH is administered. The results will give them a good idea about the function of the glands and determine if the adrenal glands are functioning normally or not.

But, If your dog’s adrenal glands do not show an increase in the release of hormones after being given the synthetic ACTH, the diagnosis of hypoadrenocorticism will be confirmed. Also, Radiological diagnostic procedures may be required, like X-ray and ultrasound, which may reveal smaller than normal adrenal glands.


Treatment Of Addison’s Disease In Dogs

Of course, the most critical part of the management is to resolve the Addisonian crisis if the dog suffers from it. If you check the Merck Veterinary Manual, they list the adrenal crisis as an acute medical emergency case. Your dog will be hospitalized and undergo intensive care and treatment to manage all the sever symptoms from the crisis.

Once your veterinarian decides that your dog is out of danger of the crisis, they will give your dog a replacement therapy. They will prescribe hormones necessary for the dog body to fill the deficiency in the body.

Mainly, your vet will prescribe more than one medication: an injection, which is called mineralocorticoid (usually DOCP) monthly, and a daily steroid medication (prednisone)

Additionally, a veterinarian will typically suggest annual or semiannual blood work to ensure the medication is working correctly.

Sadly, Addison’s disease is not treatable. The management only consists of the replacement hormones for the rest of your dog’s life, and your vet will adjust the dosage of the medications with your dog’s routine visits according to the results of the lab tests, mainly during times of stress.

Moreover, dog owners mustn’t attempt to adjust the medication or change brands without consulting with their veterinarian, as this could lead to another hormonal irregularity.

Without a doubt, the process of adjusting your dog’s medication dosage takes a long time with frequent visits in the first months of the onset of the disease. Also, it will help your vet to measure your dog’s hormones and electrolyte levels, which help your vet to adjust the best dosage for your dog’s condition.

After that, you will have to take your dog monthly to your vet to receive an injection of replacement hormones.


Addison’s Disease In Dogs Prevention

Unfortunately, Addison’s disease itself is not preventable. However, there is an exception to this with a medication-induced Addisonian crisis. What happened, in this case, is that your dog already has a Cushing’s disease and on medications for the disease (trilostane or mitotane). When your dog accidentally overdoses on one of these medications, it leads to the Addisonian crisis.

Moreover, a rapid withdrawal of prednisone may cause Addison’s. Therefore, it is crucial to follow all of your vet’s instructions and monitor your dog’s medication intake.


Addison’s disease for dogs maybe not curable. However, it is crucial to understand and know more about this disease to make sure our dogs don’t suffer from severe complications, which may lead to severe complications or death.

As a dog owner, you are for sure worried about your dog’s health, and you are concerned about how your dog’s going to manage its life after diagnosing such a condition which needs lifetime medications. But don’t worry. Following your vet’s instructions as well as making sure to know more about your dog’s condition to avoid complications such as Addisonian’s crisis will be more than enough to keep your dog healthy and happy.

So finally, I hope you found this article useful and informative. Let me know your answer down below. What do you think about this disease? Do you have more information or tips about Addison’s Disease For Dogs? Write them down below.

If you have any other questions or different opinions about it, leave a comment below.

Today’s Quote:

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog!” — Harry Truman


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