Are you worried that something is not right with your beloved pooch? You cannot quite put your finger on what is wrong, but they have lost their spark and zest for life, their eyes are dull, and they seem listless. Perhaps there are some other symptoms that you do not like - moments of muscle weakness or tremors, or they have stopped leaping into the car or onto the sofa. Maybe they have lost their appetite and vomit or suffer from diarrhoea.
All these symptoms, which can come and go, can point to numerous illnesses, one of which may be Addison's disease. This condition is named after the 19th-century doctor who identified this issue with the adrenal gland and is otherwise known as adrenal gland dysfunction.
If left untreated, Addison's disease is fatal, but with the right treatment, your pup can lead a normal and active life.
Here, we are going to look at some of the things to look out for and what to do if you suspect Addison's disease in your dog.
Which dogs can get Addison's disease?
Any dog can get Addison's disease; it is not specific to one breed, age, or sex. However, it is more common in female dogs. Around seventy per cent of dogs with the condition are female. The average age of a dog to be diagnosed with Addison's is four to six, although it has been identified in puppies and much older dogs.
While any breed can get it, some appear to be more predisposed to it than others. These breeds include Bearded Collies, Poodles, Great Danes, Basset Hounds, Springer Spaniels, Labradors, Rottweilers, St Bernards and German Shephards.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of Addison's disease in dogs?
It can appear very differently from dog to dog, but the most common symptoms that point to Addison's disease are:
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Pain in the hind-end
- Muscle weakness and tremors
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Painful or sensitive abdomen
- Muscle and joint pain
Some dogs also experience a change in their stools, where they change to a dark, almost tar-like substance, which indicates gastro haemorrhaging, and blood in their vomit.
When diagnosing Addison's disease, vets will take note of pulse and body temperature, low blood pressure and pale mucous membranes. They will carry out blood tests to see if there is elevated potassium levels, low sodium, and glucose, anaemia, elevated liver enzymes and various other things.
Treatment for Addison's disease in dogs
If your dog enters into an Addison's crisis, they need treating with IV fluids, glucocorticoids and sometimes glucose. These will save your dog's life, so it is crucial to access treatment as soon as possible. Once their condition is stable, they need to undergo lifelong adrenal hormone replacement and have their electrolyte levels monitored carefully.
With the right treatment, a dog with Addison's has an excellent prognosis. It should not cause any issues with life expectancy or cause other problems. They will start to feel better, almost immediately. The biggest challenge is monitoring the levels, administrating medication at the first sign of a crisis and keeping a close eye on them for any signs of a problem.
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