Addison’s disease is a well-treated hormonal disease. When discovering the disease, the dog is usually about 4 years old (that is not the case in all cases, the age varies from 4 months to 14 years). Bitches have the disease more often than males.
The first symptoms are mild and unclear. Often the disease is only diagnosed when the dog is seriously ill.
Dogs can die of Addison’s disease if the symptoms are not recognized in time. But with good medical treatment, dogs with Addison’s disease become as old as their healthy counterparts.
Cause of Addison’s disease
Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disease, that is, the body’s immune cells focus on the body itself rather than on foreign invaders and destroy the adrenal glands in this disease.
This is a gradual and irreversible process.
When healing is diagnosed, healing is no longer possible.
Only when 85% to 90% of the adrenal glands have (definitively) disappeared are the problems visible. Fortunately, the disease can be treated well.
Varieties with Addison’s disease
Dogs of all breeds can get Addison’s disease.
There seems to be a hereditary disease in Labradoodles, Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, Cairn Terrier, Cocker Spaniel and Bearded collies. The disease is also found more often in the West Highland White terrier, Rottweilers, Sint Bernards and Leonbergers.
Symptoms of Addison’s disease
Most dogs with Addison’s disease have vague (non-specific) symptoms that may also fit other diseases and do not seem to indicate a serious illness like Addison. Stress often leads to sudden worsening of the dog: the dog has been quiet for a long time and suddenly becomes very ill.
The period between the first symptoms and the acute worsening can vary from 2 to 52 weeks.
The symptoms in the first phase can be:
Indicate vomiting or food
To lose weight
Drink and pee a lot
Blood with vomit or feces
Less beautiful coat
After giving an infusion or prednisone-like medication, the dog often quickly recovers.
When a dog with Addison’s disease collapses, he can show the same symptoms we listed above, but to a much greater extent. The dog often has a slow heartbeat which in turn does not fit the severity of the disease.
If you do not intervene quickly, the dog can die.
Diagnosis of Addison’s disease
The diagnosis is made with blood tests:
The sodium is often low and the potassium is often high.
The kidney values ??are often (strongly) increased.
An ACTH stimulation test is abnormal: this test proves Addison’s disease and should be performed before starting medication.
sometimes a determination must also be made of aldosterone
Treatment of Addison’s disease
Dogs that get an infusion through the bloodstream often improve quickly.
Treatment with pills
The dog must be given the tablets twice a day for the rest of his life. If you are unable to give tablets, for example because the dog is sick, the medication must be given by injection. If this does not happen, all symptoms will come back.
The setting of the medication (determining the correct dose) is based on the behavior of the dog, a physical examination and a blood test.
This is the work of the internist at the MCD.
If animals receive too much medication, they can drink a lot, become bald, shake, pant, get voracious, less muscle and a hanging belly. These symptoms are similar to those of animals with Cushing’s disease.
If dogs receive too little medication, they will have problems with Addison’s disease (see above).
Stress and Addison’s disease
Dogs with Addison’s disease can only recover badly from stress. If your dog goes off to sleep, becomes restless from fireworks or is operated, for example, the dose of the white tablets (cortisone) should sometimes be temporarily increased.
Prognosis of Addison’s disease
Dogs with Addison’s disease can grow old healthy, provided the medications are in the correct dosage daily administered. A lot of experience Because the MCD is one of the two clinics in the Netherlands, where there is a veterinarian available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, we nurse many dogs with Addison’s disease.