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What Are the Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome in Your Pet?

By February 20, 2019Pet Care, Pet Health
What Are the Symptoms of Cushing's Syndrome in Your Pet?

Cushing’s syndrome or Cushing’s disease, also known by the unwieldy name hyperadrenocorticism, refers to a type of hormone imbalance. It’s a chronically debilitating condition that can affect both dogs and cats. Cushing’s syndrome is the result of long-term exposure to an excess of the hormone cortisol in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome in Dogs.

The signs of Cushing’s syndrome usually appear gradually, and some are often misinterpreted as just part of the normal aging process. The following is a list of the common symptoms.

The dog is drinking excessively.

A good rule of thumb is approximately one cup of water for every ten pounds of body weight. This can vary depending on the environmental temperature and the dog’s activity level. However, dogs with Cushing’s syndrome will drink vastly more water than is normal on a regular basis.

The dog is urinating excessively leading to urinary protein loss.

Some dogs can’t hold their bladder and may start crying to go outside during the night.

Urinary Incontinence.

The dog may begin leaking urine. Also, a urinary tract infection may be present.

Increased or Insatiable Appetite.

The dog may beg incessantly for food or begin stealing food from the garbage.

Pot-bellied Appearance.

This happens in over ninety percent of dogs with Cushing’s syndrome. It results from the redistribution of body fat along with the breakdown of abdominal musculature.

Muscle Weakness.

Cushing’s syndrome causes the breakdown of muscle protein. The dog will become lethargic, exercise intolerant, and show reluctance to climb stairs or jump up on the couch.

Skin Disease.

The dog may exhibit any of the following signs:

  • Hair loss on the body but not on the legs or head.
  • After clipping, the hair does not grow back.
  • Thin, wrinkled skin and wounds that don’t heal quickly.
  • Dark discoloration of the skin especially on the abdomen.
  • Skin infections that are persistent or recurring.
  • Calcium deposits (calcinosis cutis) – raised, rock-hard areas appearing almost anywhere on the body.
  • Other Symptoms – Excessive panting and shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and infertility.

Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome in Cats.

In cats, the symptoms of Cushing’s disease are similar to those in dogs except the reason for excessive drinking is different. 80% of cats with Cushing’s disease will develop diabetes mellitus, versus only 10% of dogs. Dogs suffering from Cushing’s syndrome drink excessively because of their Cushing’s disease. In cats, it’s their diabetes that causes them to drink excessively. Cats with Cushing’s disease that have not developed diabetes do not drink excessively.

Cats may also develop a weakening and thinning of the skin where the cat’s ear tips spontaneously tear or curl inward in a peculiar way. This does not happen with dogs.

Untreated Cushing’s Disease.

If Cushing’s disease is untreated, the pet is at risk for severe problems. The best way to prevent your pet from experiencing the discomfort and poor health arising from Cushing’s syndrome is via regular checkups with your vet. Cushing’s disease can be controlled, enabling your pet to live a normal and active life. However, if your pet needs any kind of emergency treatment and you live in the Columbia South Carolina area, CVETS is here to help with our state-of-the-art emergency facility. Don’t hesitate to bring your pet to us.