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Cushing’s disease in dogs

Health & Wellness

Cushing’s disease in dogs: symptoms and treatment

Here’s what you need to know

It’s normal for pups to pant after lots of playtime (parents, you’re probably breathing heavily, too!). But, constant panting that’s not due to exercise, heat or stress could be caused by Cushing’s disease. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough explains the ins and outs of this condition and how it could be impacting your dog. 

What is Cushing’s disease in dogs? 

Cushing’s disease occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands produce too much of a steroid called cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. 

Symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs

Along with excessive panting, symptoms of Cushing’s disease include: 

  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Going to the bathroom more
  • Potbelly (when a dog’s stomach looks inflated)
  • Hair loss (and an inability to regrow hair)
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Thin skin
  • Hyperpigmentation (or darkening of the skin)

What are the stages of Cushing’s disease? 

There aren’t stages of Cushing’s disease, however, without the right treatment plan, the disease can lead to other conditions like high blood pressure. 

Dog breeds prone to Cushing’s disease

Smaller and older dogs are more susceptible to Cushing’s disease. The following breeds run a higher risk of developing the condition, too:

  • Beagles
  • Poodles
  • Boston Terrier
  • Dachshunds
  • Miniature schnauzer
  • Boxers

Cushing’s disease treatment

Talk to your vet about the right treatment option for Cushing’s disease. Veterinarians will typically begin with bloodwork and an examination to diagnose the condition — oral medications are often the recommended resolution. 

What is the life expectancy of a dog with Cushing’s disease? 

While Cushing’s disease is manageable, the average life expectancy after being diagnosed is 3 to 6 years. 

We hope your pup never experiences Cushing’s disease, but if they start showing symptoms, you’ll be prepared to ask the right questions and get them the treatment they need.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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