Cushing's Syndrome

Disease overview

Cushing’s syndrome or canine Hyperadrenocorticisim is the term given to an endocrine condition characterised by an excessive amount of cortisol being released into the body. It is a common endocrine disorder often undiagnosed due to the symptoms of Cushing’s being mistaken for general ageing.

Symptoms

Clinical signs of Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s) include:

  • Polydipsia (normal = 50-60 ml/kg/day).
  • Polyuria (normal = 20-40 ml/kg/day).
  • Polyphagia - often results in scavenging or stealing.
  • Pot-belly - due to fat deposition, weakness of abdominal muscles and hepatomegaly.
  • Thinning of the skin.
  • Hair loss - cortisol has an inhibitory effect on the anagen growth phase of the hair cycle.
  • Excessive panting.
  • Lethargy.
  • Neurological signs can occur with a large pituitary tumour.

Causes

The signs of Cushing’s syndrome arise due to an excess of circulating glucocorticoids, in particular cortisol which is produced by the adrenal cortex.

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