It wasn’t until I started my Dog Grooming Career (being exposed to many fur babies) that I came across Cushing’s Disease, and it took me a while after that to realise that humans can get Cushing’s as well. Then, a few years ago, one of my regular customer’s, Kerri & John’s, dog Noodie was diagnosed with Cushing’s that I gained a clearer understanding of what exactly it was and what effect it has.
Google Search below –
‘Cushing’s disease usually strikes older dogs with a bucket-full of symptoms that can mimic other diseases. Increased appetite, increased drinking and urination, panting, high blood pressure, bulging abdomen, skin lumps and discoloring, hair loss, muscle weakness, and nervous system disorders can occur with the disease.
Dog Owner’s Guide: Cushing’s disease – CanisMajor.com –www.canismajor.com/dog/cushings.html’
‘The most common cause of Cushing’s disease (85% to 90% of all cases) is a tumor of the pituitary gland (which is located at the based of the brain). The tumor may be either benign or malignant. The tumor causes the pituitary gland to overproduce a hormone (ACTH) that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
Cushing’s Disease in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals– www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/…/cushings…in-dogs/545′
Anyone can do a ‘google’ search on what exactly Cushing’s Disease is and find these definitions and many more, which are definitely helpful, but I wanted to share a first hand experience of the disease to give a further understanding of what it means.
I asked Kerri if she wouldn’t mind answering some questions regarding the disease and their experience with Noodie, and thankfully she said yes, actually she said that Noodie would love that he can help others and be in the limelight.
Did you know what Cushings was? In your words, what is it?
We hadn’t heard of it before our vet mentioned it, but I say it’s a lack of the body to produce the chemical that handles stress levels.
How old was Noodie when you noticed or found out about the Cushings?
His official diagnosis was 9th May, 2014, so he was 13.5, but he most likely had it for some time before the diagnosis, as a lot of the symptoms are similar to ageing. The ‘very hungry’ symptom wasn’t a true indicator to us, because he was always a piggy.
What symptoms did you notice?
Excessive panting (which is because of the pancreatitis, not cushings), bed wetting, bloated tummy, hair loss (lower back), flaky skin, very thirsty (& lots of wees) & very hungry.
Another symptom is muscle weakness/loss, but this didn’t show initially, but did creep in. His face/head shape appeared boney, and his muscle depth did disappear from his rump/hind legs.
What happened to make you take Noodie to the vet?
His bloated tummy – he already had most of the other symptoms.
Was your vet good about it all?
Our vet was very outstanding and explained everything.
What tests did they do to diagnose the Cushings?
Initial tests with our vet were urine and blood. The specialist did these and an ultrasound, and Dexamethasone Suppression test (he was at the specialist for 8 hours, which is the time required for this test).
Was it a costly experience?
Could be. The specialist costs were around $2,500 and there is a need to do a number of ACTH stimulation tests with the vet ($180 each at the start). This is done to get the medicine dosage right, and the tests were every couple of weeks, 3 or 4 times. There’s a follow up test after 3 months and if ACTH levels are good, then it could be 3 or 6 months to the next one. If the levels are not good, then follow up tests are done again to determine the levels and if the medicine needs to be adjusted.
The dosage is based on weight & results of the test. Noodie was on 1.2ml for a while, then 1 mil, then less than 1 ml. The medicine (Trilostane) was $380 for 100ml, which would last us approx. 12-16 weeks. (He was 7kg when he started, & lost 2.5kg over the next 2.5 years).
How did you react to Noodie’s Cushings diagnosis?
Not surprised, as we had done a lot of research and he had all the classic symptoms. We were ‘down’ but knew it was a manageable disease and not life threatening.
Noodie’s Cushings Diagnosis (shaved belly from his tests)
What did this mean for you guys?
We had to be very strict with is food serving size – no over feeding. (Not me, but Noodie’s dad had to be lectured).
What changes, if any, had to be made to accommodate for Noodie’s Cushings diagnosis?
There was no real change, but he had to have his medicine, with food, at the same time every morning, and because we were early risers for work Mon-Fri, it meant early mornings on the weekends. We also had to make sure that we had enough food for the mornings. I’m sure Noodie looked at this as a good change (more food).
Was Noodie in any pain?
Initially, he was only in pain when it flared the pancreatitis (excessive panting), but that only happened once more since he was diagnosed with Cushings.
How did Noodie cope with Cushings, what were his spirits like?
He was fine. He took his liquid medicine without any fuss, his personality didn’t change.
How long did Noodie live with Cushings for?
He was with us for another 2.5 years.
Is there anything more you’d like to share with others whose dog may have just been diagnosed with it and are unsure of what to do?
There is some ‘talk’ that Cushings can make your dog more susceptible to pancreatitis. You must control their intake of food. Overeating can trigger pancreatitis, and if not treated can lead to a bad outcome.
Also, if your pet is taking steroid type medication for arthritis or allergy, it has to stop. Steroids & Trilostane cannot be taken together.
Noodie also had arthritis and we had to try and manage that with natural supplements and regular, shorter walks.
Noodie 4th September, 2016, last groom with me and 5 weeks before he crossed Rainbow Bridge.
I’d like to thank Kerri for answering these questions. I had the honour of grooming Noodie for 9 years and he certainly was an adorable fur baby. He let me do everything I needed to do and he would also let me know when he was done, with little huff puff’s. He also had sensitive feet and he wasn’t fussed on getting his nails done either but he still let me do it all, lol. He had such a character and I feel he was an old soul.
Even though he wasn’t fussed on the treats I supplied he’d still run inside and wait for me to break them up and hand them over.
He will forever be in my heart.
Noodie getting his Zen on