Addison’s Disease

Posted on June 12, 2015

Addison’s disease is an uncommon hormonal disorder of the adrenal glands in dogs and cats.  Although, it is relatively uncommon in dogs and rare in cats, the disorder can affect all ages, both genders, any breed, mixed b reeds, neutered, spayed or intact.  The gland cells are destroyed by the immune system as foreign causing the adrenal gland produces too little glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoid, both components of Addison’s disease.

Addison’s disease can come on quickly, in a few days or develop over weeks and months.  Animals affected can suffer loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of weight, muscle weakness, shivering, trembling, lethargy or collapse.  Addison’s disease can mimic other ore common diseases of the stomach, intestines, heart, liver and kidneys.  If blood concentrations of potassium have increased and blood concentrations of sodium decrease, a veterinarian may suggest a test called the ACTJH stimulation test.  If diagnosed with the disease, life-long treatment will be necessary.    Sometimes, it is only suspected when after a battery of tests on multiple organs.

Once diagnosed, expensive intensive treatment is usually necessary to save the life but once sent home, medications to replace glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoid are in pill form.  Some animals are resistant to the pill, so a more expensive alternative injectable medication  is recommended and given approximately every 25 days, after a period to establish dosage.  Owners can administer the injections.  Most properly diagnosed animals can have successful treatment and a healthy life.