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Treatment for Addison's Disease in Dogs

By Gina Carey. July 03, 2012 | See Comments

Treatment for Addison's Disease in Dogs

Addison’s disease in dogs can lead to death if not diagnosed and properly treated. Ensure your dog a long and healthy life by learning the options.

Dogs with Addison’s disease can lead long, healthy lives with proper treatment. Symptoms that are never treated, however, will lead to death. Once a veterinarian diagnoses an Addisonian dog, a treatment plan and regular checkups will be recommended.

Diagnosing Addison’s Disease

If a pet displays symptoms of Addison’s disease, your vet will undergo a series of tests to determine if chronic cortisol deficiency is the cause. Along with a physical examination to check for slowed heart rate, dehydration, and weakness, veterinarians will perform blood tests and an ACTH stimulation test.

Blood tests are not definitive in diagnosing Addison’s disease, but can help narrow down underlying causes of the illness. Blood tests examine the functions of organs like the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas, and can also check up on your dog’s electrolyte balance. A CBC blood test measures the amount of different kinds of red and white blood cells.

Vets will administer an ACTH stimulation test as the results are definitive for Addison’s disease. In this test, vets check cortisol levels, and then inject the pituitary hormone adrenocorticotropic, or ACTH, to test cortisol production. This test will require your dog to stay in the hospital for one day.

Treating Addison’s Disease

Once your vet has confirmed diagnosis of Addison’s disease, you will need to administer a lifelong treatment plan. Mild symptoms can be treated with drugs and supplements that replace deficient hormones. These drugs must be given consistently, and your vet may recommend  larger doses during times of illness and stress since your pet cannot produce an abundance of cortisol to balance them. Regular retesting of your dog’s hormone levels and adjustment of the drugs will ensure that your pet is receiving the correct dosage.

Drugs used to treat Addison’s disease are administered orally or through injection. Examples of drugs used to treat Addison’s disease include Florinef and Percorten-V, and many Addisonian dogs are also given prednisone.

Treating Addisonian Crisis

Dog’s in Addisonian Crisis must receive emergency care to save their lives. Treatment will include intravenous fluids that reconstitute the deficient hormones, electrolytes, and essential minerals that your dog needs. Once dogs are safe from Addisonian Crisis, they must continue with a regular treatment plan and periodic checkups from their vet.

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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