Could Your Pet Have Cushing’s Disease?

By Susan Blake Davis, Pet Nutritionist,


Cushing’s Disease (hyperadrenocorticism) can be hard to diagnose and many older pets can display symptoms of it.  It is often an overlooked and undiagnosed condition.  The disease is more commonly found in dogs than cats.   Many pet owners are told that their pet has “probable Cushings”.   3 primary causes of Cushing’s Disease include a small pituitary tumor (most cases), an adrenal gland tumor or the long-term use of high dose steroids.  The result is that the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol, a hormone.

Symptoms may be varied and seemingly unrelated.  Pets may display some of the following symptoms resulting from the production of too much adrenal hormone:
  • excess water consumption
  • increased urination
  • increased appetite
  • panting
  • bloated, pot-bellied abdomen
  • high blood pressure
  • hair loss–usually symmetric
  • thinning of the skin and fur
  • susceptibility to infections and diabetes
  • weakening of the skeletal muscles; exercise intolerance

Concerned pet owners might first notice that there are skin sores that keep recurring or that their dog’s drinking and urination patterns have changed. Sometimes symptoms are much more subtle or in early stages; pets may only display a few (if any) of the above symptoms. Laboratory tests can be inconclusive and/or show abnormal liver values. Quite often there is NO definitive diagnoses but only subtle signs.

There is help! There is hope! Pet owners can become discouraged because their pet’s condition is not clearly diagnosed and symptoms appear to be unrelated. Medications may be prescribed which can have significant side-effects. On the other hand, a natural approach may be used which can often result in excellent improvements.

First and foremost, revisiting your pet’s diet is key.  Many times, pets with possible Cushing’s have some elevation in liver enzymes and using an appropriate, all-natural diet will make a significant difference.  Because Cushing’s can result in skin problems and pets with Cushings have a long history of allergies, it is best to use a hypoallergenic diet, avoiding grains, poultry, beef and dairy.   Raw frozen diets and fresh baked fish provide optimal nutrition but too much protein is difficult for the liver to process so using a controlled amount (depending upon the pet’s weight and liver values) of high quality fresh protein along with plenty of steamed vegetables is key. Avoid dry food as it is high in carbohydrates (even grain-free) and can promote yeast and skin problems.

Supplements for Cushing’s Disease:

Canine Cushing’s Support
is a supplement that naturally helps the body reduce cortisol levels and can be very helpful. The key ingredient, phosphatidyl serine has many benefits and is a nutrient essential for brain function. Pets with Cushing’s Disease benefit significantly from this supplement and can often avoid the need for medication.  Because Canine Cushing’s Support contains ingredients crucial for the overall health of brain cells and is not found in food sources, this gentle supplement is definitely worth a try if your pet has been diagnosed with Canine Cushing’s or has symptoms of probable Cushing’s. The product is well tolerated and  is soy-free.

Liver/Gallbadder Support Kit
–Many pets with Cushing’s Disease have elevated liver values, especially alkaline phosphatase. Some may have gallbladder issues and sluggish bile.  Our gentle liver supplement has been quite effective in for pets with elevated liver enzymes, sluggish gallbladder function and difficulty digesting fats. The liver is the main “clearinghouse” for excess hormones and in combination with Lypozyme and Power Probiotic, they help to flush out toxic overload. Remember the excess cortisol is putting a lot of stress on your dog’s body overall, so it is important to use these natural sweepers together to help your pet feel more comfortable. These three formulas seem to work together nicely to reduce skin and digestive problems.

Oxicell SE is a one-of-a-kind topical cream that delivers glutathione, SOD and other important antioxidants (vital to the liver and over health) directly into the body.  This product is very easy to administer,  helps fight free radical damage and inflammation and is also an important product for pets with Cushing’s Disease.  Very easy to use with cats!

In summary, holistic care can definitely help dogs with Cushing’s Disease and pet owners should explore both conventional and holistic veterinary care options.


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