Tag Archives: older dogs

dogs and cushings disease

Older dogs may be susceptible to Cushings disease. Cushings disease is caused by an overproduction of the hormone ACTH by the pituitary gland which in turn controls the release of cortisol by the adrenal glands. It is mainly a disease of dogs, not cats. The most common cause is a microscopic benign pituitary tumor which triggers the overproduction of ACTH. These tumors are often found in older dogs. Cushings can affect the function of many organs. In addition, the excess cortisol suppresses the immune system allowing for bacterial infections. The most common infection is in the bladder.

The symptoms include hair loss, primarily on the body, increased appetite and thirst, frequent urination and a pot-bellied look to the abdomen. The skin may be thinner than usual and may bruise more easily. Diagnosis involves hormone injection and monitoring of the dog’s blood and needs to be done over several hours at the veterinarian’s office.

Treatment is with medication to suppress production of glucosteroids. It is a complex plan that involves close monitoring by the veterinarian. The average life span, with treatment is two years or longer. When presented with symptoms of frequent urination and thirst, one might assume diabetes. It is best to consult your veterinarian and suggest he look for Cushings disease as well as other more typical metabolic disorders.


Caring for your senior dog

As with humans, senior dogs change as they age. Unfortunately for dog lovers, it seems to happen way too fast! One way a dog may be considered to be geriatric is based on weight. Dogs who are 50 pounds and over are considered to be in the geriatric range at the age of 7 years. Dogs 20-50 pounds are thought to be geriatric at 9 years of age and small dogs of less than twenty pounds at 10 years of age. There are several factors to consider in caring for your aging dog.

  • Exercise is still important but may need to be less vigorous than when your dog was young
  • Provide more bathroom breaks due to aging bladders and more frequent urination need
  • Use of non-skid runners and area rugs will help unsteady dogs on hardwood floors
  • Climbing ramps for stairs or getting up on a bed may make getting from one place to another easier
  • Food should be easy to digest and of fewer calories than when your dog was younger
  • Visit your vet twice per year and watch for changes that may signal the need for a visit including eating and drinking habits, wounds that are not healing, unusual or sore lumps, and lethargy
  • Dogs with hearing loss need to be monitored for their safety and those with vision loss may benefit from surgery

Enjoy your dog in his golden years!