When your dog’s health or behavior changes, it’s normal to be concerned, especially if your dog is getting older. Age can affect your dog’s ability to produce natural steroids like cortisol, resulting in hyperadrenocorticism, otherwise known as Cushings disease.
You might start to see symptoms of Cushings disease through increased thirst or appetite, reduced activity, hair loss, skin infections and sensitivity, and an enlarged abdomen. These symptoms could point to your dog’s excessive cortisol production. Cushings disease is triggered by a tumor either on the pituitary gland or the adrenal glands, and this causes your dog’s body to produce more cortisol than he actually needs.
Cushings disease can only be permanently cured if the tumors are surgically removed, but this treatment and repeated tests are expensive. In fact, surgical removal of pituitary tumors, in particular, is still largely experimental and is rarely offered as an option. There are medications that can treat Cushings disease, such as Vetoryl. However, Vetoryl side effects are common and can include reduced appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and change in bowel movements (typically diarrhea). More severe side effects can include bloody diarrhea, sodium/potassium imbalance, and adrenal necrosis which can result in your dog’s death. Because of the risks and expense associated with medications, it might be worthwhile to consider alternative treatments for Cushings disease in dogs.
One of the first things your veterinarian might recommend is changing your dog’s diet, as this can significantly improve your dog’s overall health. Vets often suggest a grain free food or a raw diet minimize toxins in your dog’s body.
Herbal treatment for Cushings disease is available and can help treat your dog’s symptoms while keeping your dog comfortable and happy. Dandelion is one of the most commonly used herbs for dogs with Cushings disease, as it helps to restore proper adrenal function and can help balance cortisol production in dogs. It is best used for mild symptoms of the disease, but as a natural herb, it is unlikely to negatively affect your pet. Ginkgo biloba can be used to slow the production of cortisol and may have additional positive effects in treating dementia in aging dogs.
Beyond herbal treatment for Cushings disease, supplements may also be beneficial to your dog. Fish oil can help improve the condition of your dog’s skin and coat. HMR or flaxseed lignans are other excellent options for treatment, as they inhibit certain enzymes that aid cortisol production. These two lignans alone can make an enormous difference in your dog’s health. Do make sure you’re not using whole flaxseed or flaxseed oil, as these have a lower lignan content and may not be as effective. Melatonin can be helpful alongside these lignans, or even on its own, as it inhibits different enzymes and can also help restore your dog’s natural sleep cycle. Turmeric supplements may also boost your dog’s energy and reduce inflammation in the body.
Alternative treatments for Cushings disease in dogs can be both safer and more effective for your pet. Herbal treatments and natural supplements tend to be gentler on older dogs and side effects of these treatments are minimal, if not entirely nonexistent. Additionally, one of the greatest benefits to you is the cost. These alternative treatments are much less expensive than the medications and continued testing that must be done if your dog is taking a medication like Vetoryl.
Your dog’s body will be much more accepting of these types of treatments than aggressive medication, and no testing is needed to monitor their effects. Herbal treatments and supplements can even be used if a dog has not yet been diagnosed with Cushings disease. If your dog is suspected of having this condition, he can still take these kinds of supplements with no adverse reaction.
If you suspect your dog has Cushings disease, the first thing to do is consult a veterinarian to get a confirmed diagnosis. If your dog does have a reaction to alternative treatments, however unlikely, you should stop giving them to your dog and speak with a veterinarian, as you would with any medication. The most important thing at all times is your dog’s health and well-being, no matter what type of treatment you choose.