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Addison's Disease in Dogs

Addisons Disease in Dogs
Maya's Story

Maya, a five-year-old Border Collie (pictured), presented symptoms of lethargy and occasional vomiting and diarrhea. She was a dog who loved doing agility trials, but who had become much slower in her performance. Her blood profile was normal, but a very astute doctor kept investigating, and when "Maya" flatlined her ACTH stim test, a diagnosis of Addison's was made.

Talk to your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet's behavior or see symptoms of lethargy or vomiting.

Addison's disease is an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands, near the kidneys, fail to produce enough hormones.  This disease is relatively uncommon (approximately one case per 3000 dogs) but it is more common in dogs than humans. It is very rare in cats. 

The common symptoms of Addison's are lethargy, occasional vomiting or diarrhea, weakness, low body temperature, low heart rate, and shaking. The symptoms are often vague, may be intermittent, and can be attributed to many other causes. The problem is probably under-diagnosed; the doctor must have a high degree of clinical suspicion. The disease can be fatal if left untreated.

Addison's usually affects young to middle-aged dogs, but can occur in any age. About seventy percent of cases are female.  Some breeds are more likely to be affected: Great Danes,  Newfoundlands, Portuguese Waterdogs, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Westies, Wheaten Terriers, Springer Spaniels, but the breeds with the highest rates are Standard Poodles, Leonbergers, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. 

A regular blood profile may have changes that suggest Addison's, especially certain alterations in the electrolytes.  The specific test for the disease is an ACTH stimulation blood test. This test involves two blood draws, one before, and one an hour after an injection of a drug named Cortrosyn. Both of these samples are sent to the reference lab, and the results are compared to one another. A normal animal will respond to the Cortrosyn by a big increase compared to the first sample. An Addisonian animal will not have an increase.

Treatment is either with an oral daily drug, Florinef, or an injectable drug, Percorten, that is given every 25 days. Most veterinarians use Percorten now as it provides better, smoother control of the disease, and does not rely on owner memory and compliance every day.  A version of the disease called atypical Addison's may need only oral prednisone. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet's health.

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After Hours Emergency & Urgent Care

Northside Animal Clinic is an affiliate of the Jackson Pet Emergency Clinic.

JPEC is located at 2815 N. Highland Ave., Ste E. We have a veterinarian and personnel on duty 7 days a week who are trained and equipped to handle any urgent care your pet has. Usually an emergency team consists of at least one veterinarian and several technicians working together to save a pet's life.

Emergencies can be things such as snail bait poisoning, hit by car, and chocolate ingestion. If you ever feel that your pet needs emergency treatment do not hesitate to call or come in immediately. If possible it is best to call before coming in so that a team member can advise you on your particular emergency. JPEC is open all holidays, weekends, and after regular business hours. The phone number is: 731-660-4343.

Testimonial

Dr. Kenneth Edwards and his Team at Northside Animal Clinic have been our veterinary care group for at least 12 years. The longevity of the relationship is due solely to the extraordinarily capable and conscientious care our pets have received.

Mona and Ivy Scarborough
Jackson, TN