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What is Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?

Hyperadrenocorticism AKA Cushing’s Disease

Hyperadrenocorticism, also known as Cushing’s disease, occurs when the adrenal glands become overstimulated and produce too much cortisol, more commonly known as the stress hormone. At normal levels, the hormone cortisol helps regulate the immune system, body weight, skin, tissue, and stress. Too much cortisol can weaken the immune system and lead to many health problems.

As an endocrine system disorder, Cushing’s disease occurs in people and other species. While it’s one of the most common endocrine disorders in dogs, it’s relatively rare in cats. Learn about the causes, the symptoms, and treatment for Cushing’s disease in dogs.

Causes of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Cushing’s disease generally affects middle-aged to older animals. The disease develops when a dog’s adrenal glands begin to overproduce the hormone cortisol. The majority of dogs diagnosed with Cushing’s disease (around 80-90 percent) will have a benign (noncancerous) tumor in their pituitary gland causing the disease, known as Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease. Most of the remaining Cushing’s cases in dogs will be Adrenal-dependent Cushing’s disease, which is caused by a tumor on one of the adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys. Although Cushing’s syndrome can take on multiple forms, what they each have in common is the overproduction of cortisol. No matter the cause, the adrenal glands become enlarged, which makes sense since they’re getting quite a workout!

In rare cases, iatrogenic Cushing’s disease can be caused by long-term use or high doses of steroids like prednisone, cortisone or other medications for allergies, autoimmune disorders, and inflammation in the joints or body. This form of Cushing’s disease can develop in dogs at any age.

Many other health conditions have symptoms that are similar to those of Cushing’s disease in dogs. That’s why it’s important for your dog to have regular wellness exams, along with any lab work and screenings recommended by your vet.

Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Cushing’s disease shares many of the same symptoms associated with a large number of other health conditions, so it’s best to make an appointment to see your veterinarian for further examination. In order to reach a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease, the vet will need to perform several diagnostic tests.

Common symptoms associated with Cushing’s disease in dogs may include:

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and urination (polyuria)
  • Frequent accidents or need to urinate at night
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased panting
  • Fatty pads around the neck and shoulders
  • Pot-belly or distended abdomen
  • Obesity or unexplained weight gain
  • Hair loss along the back and/or tail
  • Lack of energy, generally lethargic
  • Recurring skin or urinary tract infections
  • Muscle weakness
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Thin skin that bruises easily

Treatment of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

In most cases, medications that regulate the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream can help successfully manage Cushing’s disease in dogs for years to come. In others, surgery may be required. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Since there is no way to prevent Cushing’s disease, establishing a regular veterinary care routine that includes an appropriate blood-screening schedule with your vet is critical. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance you’ll have a wider, variety of treatment options. Finally, if you have questions about Cushing’s syndrome or your dog’s health, give your vet a call.

[Disclaimer] Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

How to keep your pets safe around wild animals

What to do when you encounter a wild animal with your pet

When living in Arizona, encountering a wild animal with your pet isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. Depending on where you live in the Valley, your pet may be more or less likely to share the backyard with many different guests during the fall season. While these wild animals may look cute and tame, they can often pose a threat to your domesticated pet if they feel threatened. Here are a few tips for pet owners to ensure that both your animal and those in the wild are safe from harm.

Hiking safety 

It can be tempting to let your dog off-leash when hiking in wooded or desert areas, but this can be dangerous. When roaming freely, you never know what your pet may confront or be exposed to if the opportunity arises. Without the restraint of a leash, dogs encountering a wild animal for the first time can be aggressive and fearless. Unfortunately for Fido, these animals often have pokey quills, strong hooves, fangs, or other defense mechanisms. Giving wild animals enough space – think of it as a buffer zone – is another way to reduce you and your pet’s risk of injury. Keeping your dog on a leash ensures that they won’t run off and potentially spook an animal.

  • If you want to take more than one of your pets on a hike, bring another person along! Attempting to manage more than one pet alone while hiking through the desert can be challenging, so having an extra set of hands can help you act in an emergency, and of course, keep you and your pets as safe as possible.

Backyard safety

Your backyard may seem like a safe place for your pets to roam about, but there are still a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to wild animal safety.

  • No food left behind. Wild animals are curious, especially if there’s food involved! Make sure to take food bowls back into the house after mealtime, and minimize human clutter that could potentially attract unwanted wild animals to your backyard.
  • Scoop the poop. Pet waste is another drawing factor that piques the interest of animals near and far — picking up after your pet keeps your yard clean and free of wild visitors.
  • Pet supervision. Wild animals are most likely to be in the neighborhood in the early morning and late at night. Accompanying your pet outdoors during these times is a great safety measure to reduce the chance of harm coming to your animal. If you do happen to confront an animal, try to  stay as calm as possible, make yourself appear as big as possible, and make loud noises to deter the animal from approaching.

What to do if your pet is injured 

Most wild animals are more afraid of you than you are of them; and while the odds of your pet getting hurt by a wild animal are relatively slim, it absolutely can happen! In the event that your animal is injured by a wild animal, it is essential to be cautious. Pain and fear can make even the tamest pet act aggressive and snappy. First, ensure that the danger/threat has passed. Second, assess the injury carefully while limiting contact with your pet in order not to aggravate the wound or pain. Third, before moving your pet find a veterinary location near you immediately (if possible) and call to notify the staff you will be bringing the injured pet to the clinic. Never delay in obtaining treatment for your pet.

Also, remember to remain as calm as possible in order to help reassure your pet that they are safe, and that you are there to care for them.

Be an Expert in Pet Poison Control to Keep Your Pet Safe

Quick pet poison control tips for any pet owner and what to avoid

Pet poisoning is far more common than you think. The 2018 statistics show that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received 213,773 cases concerning potential poisonings. Knowledge and prevention is the first step in keeping everyone in your family safe.

Signs of Poisoning

Many symptoms of poisoning look similar to other illnesses and may include signs like:

● Vomiting

● Diarrhea

● Drooling

● Convulsions

● Lethargy

● Black/bloody stools

● Lethargy

While the curious nature of pets is a given, there are a few specific items you should keep a close eye on.

1. Medications

Most households have prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs on hand, so it’s no surprise that these top the charts as the most common pet toxicants. In 2018, drugs accounted for just over 37 percent of all calls to the APCC. Medications like ibuprofen, cold medicines, antidepressants, and ADHD medications were most commonly ingested by pets, followed by heart medications.

Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are particularly dangerous for dogs and cats. Acetaminophen can cause red blood cell (RBC) injury, difficulty breathing, lethargy, swelling, and vomiting in cats and liver failure, dry eye, and RBC injury in dogs. Even just a single ibuprofen pill can have drastic consequences, including ulcers, anemia, kidney failure, liver failure, and

seizures. If you think your pet has consumed a pill (even an accidental drop of a pill on the kitchen floor), contact your veterinarian right away.

2. Foods

Certain foods that sit well with humans won’t sit as well with your pet. Make sure you keep these away from your four-legged friends:

● Chocolate – It might be one of the most popular foods in the world, but not for pets! Chocolate contains two harmful ingredients for dogs: caffeine and theobromine. These two substances, known as methylxanthines, can lead to medical complications and even death. The three main categories of chocolate to be aware of are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate. Baking chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine and is the most toxic, even in minute quantities. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian for help.

● Grapes and Raisins – Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t the only food that is harmful to your dog. Grapes, raisins, and currants can be toxic to your dog, leading to potential kidney failure, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep all foods in that family, including grape juice, raisin bagels, and similar foods out of your pet’s reach.

● Xylitol (sweeteners) – This sugar-free natural sweetener is popping up in all sorts of products, from sugar-free gum and mints to toothpaste, vitamins, food, and candy. While it might make a great sugar substitute for humans, it can be devastating to your dog, with symptoms ranging from weakness and collapse to coma and even death. Xylitol can cause immediate hypoglycemia, liver necrosis, and liver failure and requires immediate treatment.

● Milk/Dairy

● Nuts

● Avocados

● Citrus

● Raw meat

● Salt

● Onions

● Garlic

Many of these foods have severe consequences for pets, including liver damage, hyperthermia, seizures, and central nervous system depression. Even if your animal is looking at you with their big, begging eyes, it’s best to stick to pet approved foods only. When in doubt – remember no human foods for pets!

3. Household Cleaners/Items

Household items are tricky because they are often things we keep lying around. Items like oven cleaners, lime-removal products, concentrated toilet cleaners, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and dishwashing chemicals are all highly corrosive. These products can cause severe injuries and burns to a pet’s fur and skin upon contact. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these products, get in touch with your veterinarian immediately and share the details of what chemical they’ve come into contact with. Provide as MUCH information as you possibly can.

4. Antifreeze

Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, paint solvents, and windshield deicers, is extremely toxic to pets. Unfortunately, its sweet smell and taste can lure unsuspecting pets to taste it, often leading to deadly results. If you suspect ethylene glycol poisoning, it’s imperative you seek veterinary treatment IMMEDIATELY as the antidote needs to be administered within hours in order for your pet to survive. Without treatment, ethylene glycol is almost 100% fatal.

5. Rodenticide Exposure

Rodenticide is just as harmful to your pet as it is to a rat or mouse. Even when using rodenticides in an area you believe your pet can’t access, rodents can still inadvertently transfer the toxic substances to other locations. This invisible transfer means your animal is more likely to come in contact with the product without you knowing it. We recommend you avoid using this product in your home altogether if at all possible in order to reduce the risk to your pet.

6. Insecticide Exposure

Watch out for carbamates and organophosphates (OP). Found most frequently in rose and flower herbicides and fertilizers, these chemicals can cause symptoms from nausea, tearing, and drooling to hypothermia, seizures, and even death. While the EPA is regulating the use of these chemicals, both cats and dogs can still fall prey to the harmful side-effects these products cause. If you’re a flower gardener, pay close attention to product labels to ensure proper pet poison control.

7. Flea and Tick Products

Remember the carbamates and organophosphates we talked about with insecticides? Those same ingredients can be found in various generic flea and tick products. Be sure to put your pet on a flea and tick preventative that meets the safety standards recommended by your veterinarian.

8. Plants

Although houseplants have many benefits (and for some of us, are used as home décor), you should think twice before bringing certain kinds into your home. Lilies, azaleas, autumn crocus, tulips, hyacinths, Lily of the Valley, daffodils, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, and Sago Palms are all highly toxic to pets. Play it safe and keep these hazardous houseplants away from your home. A good alternative could be artificial houseplants; they still look nice, but are much safer for your pet!

In Case of an Emergency…

· Be prepared. In case of a pet poisoning or other emergency, family members should all have the number of a preferred vet clinic or another emergency veterinary contact. Post these emergency numbers in a visible spot for everyone to reference.

· Keeping materials like activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide around the house in the case of an emergency is also a great way to be prepared. Activated charcoal (NOT the kind you grill with!) can help absorb and remove toxicants, and can be administered orally to pets via syringe. Diluted hydrogen peroxide in some cases can be used to induce vomiting in pets to purge toxins. If you think your pet may have ingested or come into contact with poison, call your veterinary clinic immediately. NEVER try to try to administer any of these treatments or induce vomiting in your pet without consulting an emergency veterinarian and/or the poison control center FIRST. The safety of your pet is the #1 priority. · Outside of your vet, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

Although this list of poisonous items to your pet seems a bit daunting, we share this information in an effort to keep your furry family member(s) healthy – and most importantly, safe – for years to come!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Five Basic Steps for Pet First Aid Readiness

Emergencies can happen at any time. Would you know what to do in case of an emergency with your pet? Here are five great Pet First Aid steps you can take today.

1/ Every home should have a First Aid Kit, including one specifically for pets. Basic Pet First Aid kits are available online and through some veterinary offices, but with a little guidance from your vet, you can easily put together your own.

Remember, emergencies are not always health related, so it’s smart to include important phone numbers (see tip #2), health records, current photo/s, feeding instructions, along with copies of your pet’s registration and microchip numbers.

2/ Keep emergency numbers near your home phone and put them into the contacts list for your cell. Start with your regular veterinarian, the poison control center, plus the nearest 24-hour emergency vet clinic (handy for after hours). If your pet is microchipped (and it should be) be sure to record the actual microchip number. When was the last time you updated the contact information tied to the micrchip? If you’re not sure, check.

National Animal Poison Control Center: 888.426.4435
Pet Poison Helpline: 800.213.6680

3/ Take a Pet CPR class! The American Red Cross and many other organizations offer training and certification classes for Pet CPR. YouTube also has a wealth of video training. Search “Pet CPR classes” plus your city to find a range of resources, both online and off.

4/ Of course there’s an app for that! The American Red Cross offers a free Pet First Aid app for smartphones. Owners have access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid emergencies. In the interest of being prepared, it might be a good idea to download the one for people, too! Text “GETPET” to 90999, or visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for direct downloads.

5. Know when to seek emergency veterinary help. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) emergency list:

  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes
  • Choking, difficulty breathing, or nonstop coughing and gagging
  • Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine
  • Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
  • Injuries to your pet’s eye(s)
  • You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
  • Seizures and/or staggering
  • Fractured bones, severe lameness, or inability to move leg(s)
  • Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety
  • Heat stress or heatstroke
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here
  • Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more
  • Unconsciousness