Cushing's disease in dogs caused by steroids

This disease hits close to home for me since my own horse Prophecy was diagnosed with it at the age of 9 using the morning and night cortisol levels testing method. I have had him on pergolide since that time, which was about four years ago. His symptoms at the time of diagnosis were for the most part very mild and very subtle. He had many episodes of "ain’t doing right,” laziness in the arena and a mild case of laminitis. His owner at that time, having had a dog with Cushing’s disease, asked me to test him. I’m happy to report that he is symptom free today. However, to be on the safe side, I’m starting Prophecy on higher dose vitamin E supplements and will test him using low-dose dexamethasone suppression combined with TRH stimulation. If he tests positive with that method, I will seriously consider trilostane for him.

The most common test used to diagnose Cushing’s disease in dogs is the low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDS). A blood sample is taken to measure a dog’s baseline cortisol level and then a small amount of dexamethasone is administered by injection. Blood cortisol levels are measured four and eight hours after the dexamethasone is given. In a normal dog, the dexamethasone injection inhibits secretion of a hormone that stimulates cortisol secretion, which leads to a decrease in circulating cortisol levels. In a dog with Cushing’s disease, cortisol is not suppressed.

The pituitary gland is the “boss”, so to speak, of the endocrine system. Its main responsibility is for producing hormones which control the various other endocrine glands in the body. The growth of a tumor in either gland causes an over-production of corticosteroid hormones which, when released into the system, produce symptoms such as hair loss. (The over-use of steroid drugs can have the same effect.) Other symptoms (in both dogs and horses) can include sweating, weight loss (in spite of increased appetite), listlessness, increased intake of water, and anemia. However, the most recognizable symptom is hair loss.

The drug's most common side effects are poor or reduced appetite, vomiting, lack of energy, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally, more serious side effects, including bloody diarrhea, collapse, severe sodium/potassium imbalance, and destruction of the adrenal gland may occur, and may result in death. In 2014, with input from CVM, the manufacturer updated the information about patient monitoring and side effects on the package insert. Although not proven to be caused by Vetoryl, some additional side effects reported to CVM and now included on the package insert are adrenal insufficiency, shaking, elevated liver enzymes and elevated kidney tests.

Cushing's disease in dogs caused by steroids

cushing's disease in dogs caused by steroids

The drug's most common side effects are poor or reduced appetite, vomiting, lack of energy, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally, more serious side effects, including bloody diarrhea, collapse, severe sodium/potassium imbalance, and destruction of the adrenal gland may occur, and may result in death. In 2014, with input from CVM, the manufacturer updated the information about patient monitoring and side effects on the package insert. Although not proven to be caused by Vetoryl, some additional side effects reported to CVM and now included on the package insert are adrenal insufficiency, shaking, elevated liver enzymes and elevated kidney tests.

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