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How Long Does a Dog Live With Cushing’s Disease?


Cushing Disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is a disease where the body produces too much cortisol, a hormone. The prime duty of cortisol is provided and stored by adrenals which sit on top of the kidneys as two glands.

So, if there is a production of too much cortisol, a dog’s body may weaken, and after that, leave their bodies more vulnerable to diseases.

Cushing Disease affects any breed of dog. It can also affect cats, horses, and even humans. It’s considerably more prevalent than anyone realizes. For any new dog owner that has never heard of this disease, it’s best that you read this article for any possible diagnosis down the road.

Typically older dogs are more likely to contract Cushing’s Disease. Is a dog’s health at risk upon being diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease?


What Can Cause Cushing Disease?

First of all, the most common reason for Cushing’s Disease in dogs is a benign tumor. It’s very rare for the pituitary gland to be malignant. Cushing’s disease is a spontaneously happening syndrome, which is also caused by supplying excessive quantities of dexamethasone or prednisone for more extended periods.

The continuous use of ear drops that contain steroids may also lead to this state. Remember, the skin absorbs the medication. Thus, the dogs who are hit with this may exhibit signs similar to those that we see during a tumor. This form ends at the result of steroids.

The constant or high amount of dose, i.e. extreme supply or prolonged medication can be the underlying foundation of hyperadrenocorticism.

Furthermore, these types of drugs used to treat allergies and other immune disorders will reduce inflammation. Cushing’s Disease can stop or reduce medication.


Symptoms of Cushing Disease

The early signs of Cushing Disease are not always noticeable. That’s because all patients have different symptoms. However, if you do notice your dog acting strangely here are the symptoms.

  • Increased Thirst
  • Thin or Fragile Skin
  • Increased Urination
  • Hair Loss
  • Increased Appetite
  • Recurrent Skin Infections
  • Reduced Activity
  • Enlargement of the Abdomen
  • Excessive Panting
  • Obesity


Two Types of Cushing Disease

There are two major types of Cushing’s Disease.


Pituitary Dependent

Most noteworthy, pituitary affects about 80%-90% of animals who come across Cushing’s Disease. The disease comes about when a pea-sized tumor grows in the base of the brain known as the pituitary gland.


Adrenal Dependent

A tumor sits on one of the glands, sitting on top of the kidney’s, called the adrenal glands. Furthermore, records show that almost 15-20% of dogs can have this type of Cushing’s Disease.

The Proper Diagnosis

Diagnosing an animal with Cushing’s Disease is tough because there is no accurate method for a proper diagnosis. As a result, the best option is a visit to the vet for a proper medical examination. Probably, your dog’s symptoms may be due to other health concerns.

Bring along your dog’s health history for the vet to view. The way a vet tests a dog for Cushing’s Disease is testing a sample of their urine or blood. If you identify or come across any signs, then the next step will be screening tests.

Moreover, you can also consider taking ultrasound scans of a dog’s belly. Scans will help find any tumors on the adrenal glands.


ACTH Stimulation Test

Adrenal glands are measured out by their response to ACTH, a hormone that makes cortisol. So, to study the contrast, you may want to take a blood sample right before and after the shot of ACTH.


Low Dose Dexamethasone Suppression (LDDS) Test

Dexamethasone is made up as cortisol. Then it’s given to the dog to get an impression on how a dog’s body may work. Similar to ACTH, here also you may need to take blood samples before and after to see the contrast in results.

The dexamethasone also inhibits secretion of a hormone that stimulates cortisol secretion which decreases circulating cortisol levels. Therefore, be aware that cortisol is not suppressed in dog’s that have cortisone’s disease.


How to Treat Cushing’s Disease?

The only known cure for Cushing’s Disease is to remove the adrenal tumor if the disease is adrenalin dependent. Pituitary gland tumors are usually benign and easy to surgically remove. Thus, don’t prolong a surgery as it will release unlimited quantities of ACTH.

Upon the tumor’s removal, your dog will make a quick recovery. However, the surgery, in most cases, may not be an option for the reason that the tumor may expand to some other parts of the body.

Likewise, Tumor Surgery for dogs is also still in the process. Therefore, the safest treatment is medication. Most common drugs that will be of proper help are trilostane (Vetoryl) and mitotane (Lysodren).

These two medications are likely to cause more side effects than usual; likewise, it costs less. Thus, make sure to give medication doses at scheduled times.

Side Effects May Include:

  • Lack of Energy
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Difficulty Walking

Regular check-ups should be scheduled with the local vet to make sure the treatment is working properly. Once treatment is undergoing, the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease should start to dissipate. The first sign is a decrease in drinking water in one week or so. It can take up to several months for the skin lesions to resolve.


How Long Will Dog’s Live with Cushing Disease?

The average rate of survival for a dog with Cushing’s Disease is about two years. 10% of patients are known to live beyond the four-year mark.

Dog’s can live a normal life with medication that properly treats their medical condition. However, he is going to have to take this needed medication for the remainder of his life. Converse with your vet on how your dog can live a normal life and if side effects are affecting their health. The best thing to do is act as though everything is normal so your furry friend won’t worry.



The diagnosis is that you keep giving your dog regular scheduled medications for Cushing’s Disease; they will live a normal life. Keep an eye out for the symptoms.

Cushing’s Disease requires consistent monitoring of their health. Never fear. Cushing’s Disease is not the cause of death if your dog reaches his time. Most dogs die due to unrelated reasons brought about from aging.

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