It is very common for Cushing’s disease symptoms to be mistaken for normal signs of aging, as the symptoms appear very gradually, and mostly in older dogs. These symptoms are also shared by many other conditions, making Cushing’s difficult to diagnose without in-depth testing.
Cushing’s disease symptoms can be categorized into behavioral and physical symptoms.
Behavioral Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease behavioral symptoms include polydipsia, polyuria, polyphagia and lethargy.
Polydipsia is increased or sudden excessive consumption of water. Since it is sometimes difficult to determine if a dog is thirsty or excessively so, there is a formula that may help. Normal daily consumption of water is [140 x (body weight of dog in kg.)0.75]. Any volume above the formulaic solution is most likely polydipsia.
Polyuriais increased or excessive urination, often seemingly uncontrollable, or atypical to training. Typically, an adult dog produces between 20-40 milliliters of urine per kilogram of body weight, per day. Urine production in excess of 45 milliliters per kilogram of body weight per day, is consistent with polyuria.
Polyphagia, an increased or excessive appetite, often manifests itself as trash rooting, food stealing, intensified food guarding, and begging. The ravenous appetite of a Cushingoid dog is often accompanied by weight gain, or weight loss.
Lethargy is avoidance of exercise and play, often when the dog typically would be energetic and playful. Sometimes a weakness may be detected in the hind legs, causing dogs to resist jumping up onto furniture or people, whereas before it was easy. Cushingoid dogs tend to seek out cool surfaces to lie on, while excessively panting.
Physical Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease
Physical symptoms of Cushing’s disease gradually become apparent over time, and are often disregarded by dog owners as typical aging breakdown. Physical symptoms of canine Cushing’s disease include visible aging, slowed healing, skin and coat problems, additional endocrine diseases, and seizures.
Visible Aging in Cushingoid dogs means they visibly look older than their years, with thinning hair on the body, a saggy pot-belly, fat redistribution, and a bony face. It also may include sudden difficulty breathing, stiff walking and paws knuckling over.
Slowed Healing is a result of the hormonal imbalance created by Cushing’s disease dogs heal slowly and bruise easily.
Skin and coat problems in Cushingoid dogs include thin skin, increased number of wrinkles and folds, muscle atrophy, and their remaining coat gets dull and dry. Cushing’s disease increases susceptibility to skin infection, and may cause hard lumps on skin called calcinosis cutis.
Additional endocrine diseases may result from Cushing’s disease, such as diabetes and pancreatitis. Arrange a blood test for your dog, and begin treatment so Cushing’s disease does not progress to other diseases.
As some of these symptoms are difficult to identify as abnormal, it is important to keep track of any behavior or physicality that is inconsistent with your dog previously.
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.