Everything You Need To Know About Addison’s Disease In Dogs

Read this before you panic 😬

addisons disease in dogs

If your pup just got diagnosed with Addison’s disease, it’s understandable that you’re worried about what this means for your BFF.

After all, how serious is Addison’s disease in dogs?

In most cases you don’t need to panic, according to Dr. Aliya McCullough, a veterinarian on staff at Fetch by The Dodo.

What is Addison’s disease in dogs?

Addison’s disease is when your pup’s adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones. Specifically, we’re talking about the hormones glucocorticoids (like cortisol) that manage stress and mineralocorticoids (like aldosterone) that manage electrolyte levels.

“Atypical Addison’s disease is when a dog is only deficient in stress hormones, but this type can progress to involve mineralocorticoids over time,” Dr. McCullough told The Dodo.

What causes Addison’s disease?

Dogs can develop Addison’s disease if their adrenal glands start to break down.

“Addison’s disease is caused by the destruction of the adrenal glands by the immune system,” Dr. McCullough said.

Other causes for Addison’s disease include:

These are less common causes but are important to keep in mind.

Symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs

Symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite

“Affected dogs may also just seem ‘off,’” Dr. McCullough said. “Veterinarians sometimes call the disease ‘the great pretender’ because the symptoms can mimic other common medical conditions.”

According to Dr. McCullough, symptoms of Addison’s disease can occur irregularly and intermittently, which also makes it tough to identify.

And if you see more serious symptoms pop up, that could mean your pup’s case is pretty serious.

“Severely affected dogs may have an ‘Addisonian crisis,’ in which dogs go into life-threatening shock and can experience sudden weakness, severe vomiting and diarrhea, collapse, and seizures,” Dr. McCullough said.

Treating Addison’s disease

Luckily, Addison’s disease in dogs can be treated.

“Treatment is aimed at replacing the missing glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid (if necessary) hormones in affected dogs,” Dr. McCullough said.

This treatment could involve a couple different medications.

“Some medications can replace both the glucocorticoid and the mineralocorticoid,” Dr. McCullough said. “Other dogs may need an oral glucocorticoid pill and an injection of a mineralocorticoid.”

However, these treatments don’t fully cure Addison’s disease — once your pup is diagnosed, he’ll need to be treated for the rest of his life.

While Addison’s disease is no joke, it’s reassuring to know that treatment is readily available for your pup if he does get diagnosed.

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