Addison’s disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is a dangerous disorder that can be managed once detected (with proper treatment). When the problem is treated properly, dogs with Addison’s disease can have relatively normal lives.
When the adrenal glands stop producing the hormones that keep the body in balance, Addison’s disease develops. Natural steroids, particularly cortisol and aldosterone, are the most essential hormones generated by the adrenal glands. The dog’s body will gradually degenerate without these hormones, and symptoms will begin to develop. When symptoms appear, a diagnosis can be made to help them get on the road to recovery.
Unfortunately, because the signs of aging are similar to those of Addison’s disease, older dogs may go undetected for longer than younger dogs. We’ll go through this in more detail later.
Cause of Addison’s Disease in Dogs
Unfortunately, the cause of Addison’s disease is unknown. Addison’s disease is most typically triggered by an immune-mediated reaction that destroys the adrenal tissue. Trauma and/or injury are the less usual causes. Addison’s disease can also develop after a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease, an endocrine illness.
A tumor or a pituitary abnormality can induce the other type of Addison’s disease. This can happen if a dog has been on steroids for a long time or has suddenly stopped taking any medicine.
Any dog can develop Addison’s disease, although it is most common in the following breeds:
Symptoms of Addison’s Disease
Symptoms may appear and disappear at first, leaving you perplexed as to what is causing them. In the early stages of Addison’s, your dog may experience minor anxiety, fatigue, a lack of appetite, and/or weight loss.
The symptoms will get worse as the illness progresses. Aldosterone, the earliest naturally occurring steroid, regulates potassium, chloride, and salt levels in the body. There could be problems with the kidneys, heart, and circulatory system if this steroid isn’t present.
Cortisol is the main steroid to be concerned about because it affects practically every physical function. Cortisol is in charge of:
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Regulating metabolism
- Breaking down proteins and lipids
- Regulating blood pressure
- Generating red blood cells
- Combating stress in the body
With both natural steroids experiencing complications, the following symptoms may be present:
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Blood in stool
- Loss of fur
- Weak pulse
- Increased thirst
Diagnosing Addison’s Disease in Dogs
If Addison’s is suspected, veterinarians will likely recommend a diagnostic test known as an ACTH stimulation test. The test introduces a synthetic hormone to determine how the adrenal glands will respond.
Unfortunately, Addison’s disease is almost never detected until it has progressed to the point where it has reached an acute stage known as an Addisonian crisis. A dog suffering from an Addisonian crisis may experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, and/or collapse. It’s critical to bring your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible to get him stabilized.
Once the dog has stabilized, blood work will search for anemia and high levels of blood potassium. Sodium, chloride, and calcium levels in the blood will also be examined.
Addison’s disease is a difficult disorder to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to those of aging. It’s easy to mix up the aging process with this condition. Many of the symptoms linked with Addison’s disease are seen in aging pets, including a loss of appetite, increased sleepiness, weight fluctuations, and discomfort and inflammation.
Routine checkups are a must.
If you suspect any differences within your dog during her 6-month or annual visit, it’s important to let your veterinarian know.
An Appropriate Diet is Recommended
Low-fat diets are not suggested for pets suffering from endocrine diseases such as Addison’s, Thyroid, or Cushing’s. Because fat cells generate hormones like Leptin, which regulates all other hormones in the body, they are classified as endocrine organs. Due to high carbohydrate levels and a lack of suitable lipids in typical pet meals, whether grain-containing or “grain-free,” the endocrine system can be badly affected..
Good bacteria in pet food is also critical to the prevention and/or maintenance of endocrine disorders whereas bad bacteria can contribute to negative effects on the body.
Fermented foods from a trusted source provide good bacteria to override the bad.
Foods rich in natural sources of vitamins and minerals are also recommended, rather than supplementation in addition to a healthy diet. For a well-rounded, healthy pet, whole food nutrition is essential.
When it comes to endocrine problems, proper diet is crucial for prevention and/or improvement.
CBD for Addison’s Disease
CBD has been questioned as a therapeutic option for Addison’s disease patients. It’s not surprising, given that Addison’s is an autoimmune disease, but further research is needed to fully understand the impact of CBD on autoimmune diseases.
The impact of CBD on immunological function was investigated in a study published in Biochemical Pharmacology. CBD does demonstrate immunosuppressive characteristics, the study concluded. CBD reduced IL-8 as well as the chemokines MIP-1 and MIP-1 in a human B cell line. In other words, the findings showed that CBD inhibited immune function, making it a feasible option for those with autoimmune diseases.
According to additional research, the endocannabinoid system in the body plays an important function in the endocrine system (thyroid, pituitary, pancreas, and adrenal glands). This means that when CBD is given to the endocannabinoid system, it can have therapeutic effects.
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