Addison’s Disease is caused by the adrenal gland not producing enough cortisol or aldosterone. It usually affects young to middle-age female dogs, but any dog can develop the disease. Addison’s is rare in cats.
Addison’s is difficult to diagnose because symptoms mirror so many other diseases – fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting and muscle pain.
The adrenal glands produce hormones to help your dog’s body function properly. Addison’s Disease occurs when something goes wrong with the adrenal glands.
Cortisol and Aldosterone are the two hormones that commonly cause the problems of Addison’s. Cortisol is important to the immune system’s inflammatory response, helps food turn into energy and helps deal with stress. Aldosterone aids in kidney function, keeping the right balance of sodium and potassium and keeps blood pressure regulated.
If Addison’s is suspected, a blood test, the ACTH stimulation test, will confirm.
Once diagnosis is made, treatment can begin by replacing the corticoids. Drugs used are fludrocortisone (Florinef), twice daily, sometimes prednisone additionally, and the newer DOCP injection which is given every 25 days. Blood tests help regulate the doses.