Addison disease in dogs is a rare but serious disorder where the adrenal glands do not secrete a sufficient amount of adrenal hormones. These hormones are necessary for a wide variety of functions in the body. The disease is also known as Hypoadrenocorticisim. The disease affects the salt/potassium levels in the body. The origin of the disease is unknown but Addison disease is known to be an inherited disorder. Addison disease is also known to affect some breeds more than others.
The initial symptoms for this disease in dogs include such things as gastrointestinal problems. Gastrointestinal problems occur more often in dogs that have been treated with cortisone or prednisone for any particular reason. It may also result in pituitary cancer in dogs. Other symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and very poor appetite. When a dog is infected with Addison disease it may have a direct impact on the heart causing severe shock which can be fatal if not treated immediately.
The breeds of dogs that are most susceptible to Addison disease are Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Portuguese water dog, Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier and the Standard Poodle. Studies have also found that seventy-five percent of dogs that are affected by this disease are female and most dogs range from ages between four and seven.
Due to the variety of clinical signs associated with the disease it is often hard to diagnose this disease. Dogs that are infected with this disease are often infected with a variety of medical problems over the course of their lives. In most cases there is no set treatment for these illnesses other than increase fluids and rest. The diagnosis is made through a series of blood tests combined with other specific tests for this disorder.
Treatment for the disorder involves taking a mineralcorticord supplement for the remainder of the dog life. There will be regular visits to the vet where the dog electrolyte levels will be checked to make sure that the supplements are working properly. At the beginning of treatment this will be done more often as the correct dose is often difficult to find for each individual dog.
If you are a dog breeder or are thinking about becoming one you should make sure that you find out the medical history of your dogs before breeding them. It is wise to avoid using dogs that have a family history of Addison disease as the genes may have been passed down through the generations. You should never use a dog that has been infected with Addison disease as there is an extremely high risk that they will pass it on to their puppies.
If you are concerned about this disease and you worry that your dog may be infected then you should contact your vet as soon as possible and arrange to have blood work done. It may be possible for your vet to rule out the presence of Addison disease without having to do any blood work but to be one hundred percent sure you must have blood tests done.