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Caissie Canine Instruction: What is Addison Disease?


We begin this week’s “RUFF TAILS” featuring a beautiful 5-month-old German Shepherd named Scout.


Hi, my name is Scout. I am going to grow up to be a big King Shepherd. I enjoy playing fetch and going on walks with my humans. When it comes to my little human, I run to her to make sure she’s okay when she cries.



My mom shakes her head at me because I can never keep a bed in one piece, however, magically there is always a new bed for me. HEE! HEE!


Welcome to Doggie Dialogue


Addison disease is not curable. This disease is hard to diagnose because of the wide range of symptoms. It is sometimes referred to as the “great imitator”.


Addison disease occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce the hormones that oversee the body. These hormones are steroids, particularly cortisol and aldosterone. The steroids regulate your dog’s internal organs and body systems.



The cause of Addison disease is unknown. Veterinarians have seen in most cases, there seems to be a link, to the autoimmune process. It can be a tumour, destruction of the adrenal gland, or hemorrhage. When something interferes with the adrenal gland, the body is no longer able to produce cortisol and aldosterone.


Any dog can develop Addison disease; however, some breeds appear to be pre-disposed to the disease. These breeds are Portuguese Water dogs, Bearded Collies, Great Danes, Standard Poodles, and West Highland White Terriers.


Symptoms of Addison disease can be the following: increase thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, depression, and irregular heart rate.



Treating Addison disease usually will require two or more medicated prescriptions. Most veterinarians will start with an injectable mineralocorticoid monthly and a daily steroid. On-going blood work throughout the year will be suggested as well.




Your dog will be on replacement hormones for the rest of his/her life. Monthly visits to your vet with be necessary. Your vet will work with you to ensure your canine gets the right dosage for them to balance their hormones and ensure their electrolyte levels are good.


With the right balance this disease can be treated successfully.


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