Cushing’s disease is a disorder of the adrenal glands in which excessive adrenal hormones are produced. The cause of hyperadrenalism may be abnormal pituitary gland function, tumors of the adrenal gland, “cortisone” therapy, or unexplained overactivity of the adrenal gland.
Hyperadrenalism is a slowly progressing disease, and the early signs are often not noticed. These include increased appetite, increased drinking and urination, reduced activity, and enlargement of the abdomen. As the disease progresses, these signs intensify, and the pet may become fat, pant heavily, and lose hair evenly over each side of the body. In some cases, hair loss may be the only apparent change.
Extensive laboratory tests and radiographs (x-rays) are needed to diagnose the condition, find its cause, and plan treatment. Some animals respond to medical treatment alone, while others need both surgical and medical treatment. Unfortunately, the health of some patients worsens despite treatment.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Control, rather than cure, is the outcome of treatment in most cases of hyperadrenalism. Treatment must be carefully monitored because the drugs used in therapy may cause underproduction of adrenal hormones known as an Addisonian crisis.