Biscuit is a 3 yr old English Cocker Spaniel. She is very calm and easy going, which I am told is not typical of the breed. She has had 2 major visits to TOAH, one of which included a knee surgery. Biscuit most recently came into TOAH for not feeling well. After Biscuit’s exam and some diagnostic test were ran, Dr. Fullenwider diagnosed Biscuit with Addison’s Disease.
Biscuit is currently still under treatment for Addison’s disease. Despite Biscuit being diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, not much seems to keep Biscuit down for long. She is back playing ball and chasing squirrels like nothing has happened.
Doctors Corner: Dr. Fullenwider
Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enoughof the hormones cortisol and/or aldosterone. These hormones are necessary for life and have animportant impact on every cell in the body. The most come cause of this disease is due to autoimmune destruction of a portion of the adrenal gland. It is usually due to genetics but not always.
When the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol and/or aldosterone, there can be seriousconsequences. Symptoms may include: digestive upset, including vomiting, diarrhea or constipation; muscle weakness or twitching; a slow heartbeat, arrhythmias; low blood pressure;depression; lethargy; personality changes; anorexia; or sudden weight loss.In many cases, these symptoms come and go, sometimes as a result of stress, or the dog mayrespond to treatment with IV fluids and steroids. But left undiagnosed or improperly treated,
Addison’s can cause a serious health crisis and lead to death. This disease is often, but not always, indicated by high potassium, low sodium or a low ratio between the two in a standard chemistry panel. Blood work may also show imbalances in kidney and liver values. Because of this, Addison’s can be misdiagnosed as kidney failure, or other ailments.
All dogs with Addison’s disease require a steroid supplement such as prednisone or hydrocortisone, either regularly or in times of stress, to replace cortisol. To maintain electrolyte balance, a second medication is given to replace aldosterone. Dogs with Addison’s disease will need regular follow-up blood tests to determine if they are on the appropriate medication dosages. These blood tests will be more frequent just after diagnosis and will taper as the dog becomes stabilized.
With the proper monitoring and medication a dog with Addison’s can live a normal life. Just like other dogs, they can participate in any activities they enjoy.
Dr. Janis Fullenwider