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Causes of Addison's Disease in Dogs

By Gina Carey. July 03, 2012 | See Comments

Causes of Addison's Disease in Dogs

There are several reasons the adrenal glands stop producing cortisol, thereby causing Addison's disease. Learn more here to help protect your dog from this disease.

Like humans, pets are susceptible to Addison’s disease. Hypoadrenocorticism, the medical term for Addison’s disease, occurs when the production of cortisol is hindered by a disruption to the adrenal or pituitary glands. Without cortisol and other important hormones, your pet will not be able to manage stress, and can also undergo an electrolyte imbalance that is not sustainable.

The Importance of Cortisol

The adrenal glands are located by your pet’s kidneys. These glands are responsible for producing hormones and steroids that are crucial to organ function and other actions within the body. Cortisol is an important hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. It is responsible for managing stress, as well as your pet’s “fight or flight” response. Additionally, cortisol aids in maintaining blood pressure, promoting cardiovascular function, regulating metabolism and glucose levels, and stimulating appetite. Addison’s disease causes the adrenal glands to stop producing enough cortisol to keep your dog healthy.

Causes of Addison’s Disease

There are several reasons the adrenal glands stop producing cortisol. Injury to the outer tissues of the adrenal glands caused by immune reactions is the most common one. Damage to the glands can be caused by infection or inflammation, medication reaction, tumors, or cancer. If damage to the adrenal glands is the cause of Addison’s disease, symptoms may not occur until up to 90 percent of the adrenal cortex has been destroyed.

If there are issues with the pituitary gland, the gland in the brain responsible for signalling the production of cortisol, Addison’s disease may also result. And lastly, withdrawal from steroid treatments such as prednisone can trigger Addison’s disease, especially if the steroids are stopped abruptly. In these cases, pets are at risk of Addisonian Crisis, or shock due to circulatory collapse.

Whatever the cause, symptoms of Addison’s disease should be carefully monitored. If you notice signs of this illness, check in with your vet to see if Addison’s disease could be the cause.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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