Rehabilitation through treatment
Irrespective of the cause of Cushing's, the result is always the same - more cortisol is produced than is actually needed by the body. This results in the slow development of a combination of clinical signs that are associated with the condition.
You might have noticed a difference in your dog’s appearance or behaviour recently. The happy, healthy animal you once knew seems to be slowing down. You might think it’s just old age, but it could be Cushing’s.
This section describes the most common clinical signs associated with Cushing’s and explains why they occur.
Eight arresting signs
Patchy hair loss and changes to the skin
Hair loss can be common in dogs with Cushing’s and you may find that your dog is losing their fur along both sides of their body, over their belly and/or along their tail.
For some dogs this hair loss can be extreme, leaving them only with fur over their head and feet. Yet for other dogs it may more subtle – with signs such as having a dull coat, hair not growing back after being clipped or blackhead formation in the armpits or groin.
In healthy dogs, the hair is grown and shed in a constant cycle. In dogs with Cushing’s this cycle slows down, or stops completely, meaning hair that falls out fails to regrow.
Skin can also become thinner as a result of excessive cortisol and when this is combined with a reduction in the function of the immune system (as mentioned in the section on urinary tract infection) then recurrent skin infections can also become a problem.
Suspect Cushing’s? Investigate further.
Not all dogs will react to Cushing’s in the same way, and your dog may not necessarily display all of these signs. Whenever you suspect Cushing’s, it is always a good idea to keep a note of the changes you see in your dog’s habits and behaviour, so that you can investigate potential issues with your vet.
Are the signs of Cushing’s seen with any other diseases?
Yes, there are many other diseases which can produce signs such as drinking more and lethargy. However as your dog displays more clinical signs, the greater chance there is that Cushing’s is present.
Examples of other conditions which may present in a similar way to Cushing’s include hormonal diseases such as an underactive thyroid or diabetes, infections such as a pyometra, and organ malfunction such as kidney or liver disease.
Your vet will perform investigations to discover what is causing the unique set of signs your dog is displaying, and given some of the conditions listed above can be life-threatening, we always recommend that you visit your vet if you are concerned about your pet.
Find evidence of Cushing’s
When your veterinary surgeon suspects Cushing’s syndrome, they will perform blood and urine tests to confirm the diagnosis. Discover the tests your vet will do when searching for Cushing’s evidence.