Examining Cushing's Syndrome in Dogs
Cushing's Disease, or Syndrome, is best described as a set of symptoms accompanying the "over-production of Cortisol". It is a condition that usually develops over a period of time. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced and released by the Adrenal Gland, located near the Kidney. Under normal conditions, Cortisol is released during times of stress, to prepare the body to undergo strenuous activity. It's release, and exposure to the body, alters the metabolism, allowing the body to draw energy from stored sources (fats and sugars), and causes it to retain sodium and water. It puts the body in a temporary state of breakdown, in order for the body to quickly draw from the stored resources. We might best associate this with an “adrenaline rush”. With Cushing's Syndrome, the problem stems from the fact that instead of short-term exposure to Cortisol, the body is constantly being exposed the hormone, leading to a persistent state of breakdown and debilitation.
What causes the over-production of Cortisol?
The Pituitary Gland, located at the base of the brain, secretes a substance which stimulates the Adrenal Gland to release Cortisol. It regulates its production by detecting levels of Cortisol in the blood. When levels are low, the substance is secreted, resulting in increased Cortisol.
By far, the majority of Cushing's cases in dogs are caused by the development of a tumor on the Pituitary Gland. Most often benign, and often very tiny, this tumor will begin to exert pressure on the Gland, causing an increase in the Pituitary secretion. This in turn, causes the Adrenal Gland to release additional Cortisol.
In some cases, the over-use of Steroids (artificial hormones), such as Cortisone, Prednisone and others, lead to the same effect as the over release of the Natural hormone, Cortisol. The Pituitary Gland perceives the elevated levels of the hormone, and shuts down its release of the stimulating secretion, often leading to a shrinking of the Adrenal gland. This is a temporary condition may be corrected by administering diminishing amounts of steroids over a period of months.
Cushing’s often predisposes an animal to diabetes. In cats with Cushing’s especially, it is common for them to have diabetes as well.
• Symmetrical hair loss
• Excessive eating, drinking, urination
• Distended abdomen
• Skin abnormalities
• Secondary urinary tract infections
MORE ABOUT CUSHINGS...
A number of cases of Cushing’s syndrome are caused by long-term therapy with drugs containing corticosteroids. This is called iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome.
The signs of Cushing’s syndrome include bilaterally symmetrical hair loss, a pot-bellied abdomen, lethargy with reduced activity, infertility in females, testicular atrophy in males, loss of muscle mass and weakness. Excessive thirst and frequent urination also occur. Other complications include increased susceptibility to infections, blood clots in the circulatory system (thromboembolism), high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and central nervous system signs including behavioral changes and seizures.
The diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome is based on laboratory tests, especially those than measure serum cortisol concentrations before and after the injection of ACTH and dexamethasone. Advances in CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have made it possible to visualize small tumors of the pituitary and adrenal glands.
Spontaneous Cushing’s syndrome is treated with a drug called mitotane. The medication acts on the adrenal cortex to selectively suppress the production of glucocorticoids. The drug protocol is complex and requires close veterinary monitoring. The prognosis is guarded. The average life span with medical treatment is about two years.
A drug called Anipryl (deprenyl) recently has been approved for treating spontaneous Cushing’s syndrome of pituitary origin. It appears to be effective in improving some of the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, particularly the reduced activity level.
Pituitary tumors often respond to radiation therapy, but the availability of equipment is limited and the cost is high. Benign and malignant tumors of the adrenal glands can be surgically removed in some cases. Iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome is reversible if the causative drug can be tapered and, preferably, discontinued.
Nutritional Support for Cushing's Disease
DO NZYMES HELP WITH CUSHINGS SYNDROME?
If you are considering ordering NZYMES® because your have a pet that has been diagnosed with Cushings syndrome, we want to assure you that we expect the products to help your pet. It is our position that a sound nutritional regimen is always a good idea, including the use of the right types of nutritional supplements to maximize the delivery of nutrients to the body. Our formulas are designed to help strengthen the immune system and to help the body’s metabolism. In most cases we suggest the use of our complete NZYMES® 3-Pak Kit; this includes either the Antioxidant Treats or Granules, plus our immune enhancing Ox-E-Drops, and our probiotic/digestive enzyme blend, BacPak Plus. See the example story of Johann HERE.
Keep in mind, Cushing’s syndrome is a degenerative problem and can take months to start showing signs of immune system improvement in the pet.
Another concern is that these cases are often misdiagnosed, and what are thought to be the symptoms of Cushing's may actually be the related to Systemic Yeast problems/Leaky Gut Syndrome or Hypothyroidism, all of which can show similar symptoms.
For more information on these conditions, click here:
For correct usage of Nzymes Products
As with any serious disorder, it is best to consult with your veterinary professional before starting a new nutritional regimen. Please follow the Guidelines for Use on the individual product labels, or with reference materials provided with the products. If you have any confusion, questions, or concerns, don't hesitate to call and receive phone assistance - 877-816-6500.