Cushing’s disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, affects a dog’s ability to produce normal levels of natural steroid hormones like cortisol. Many pet owners have looked on helplessly while their beloved pet suffered from a host of distressing symptoms: from excessive thirst and urination, to increased appetite, hair loss, thinning skin, panting and fatigue. The pain and heartache of watching your furry friend go through this without relief raises one question: how can I help? Conventional treatments are available but can be costly and often have a host of negative side effects. This leads many to seek out alternative therapies that work with the body to restore balance rather than just suppress symptoms. Fortunately herbs and nutraceuticals that can help. Unfortunately, many natural formulas contain licorice root , an herb that may end up causing more harm than good.
Licorice root has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and can sometimes help the body with cortisol imbalances. This is why it’s included in many natural formulations for Cushing’s disease in pets. Unfortunately, long-term daily use of licorice root carries with it significant risks of side effects. For this reason it’s generally best to use trusted formulas that do not contain licorice.
Potential Side Effects of Licorice Root
Prolonged use of licorice root (daily for more than 30 days) may cause the following:
- Increased water retention
- Electrolyte imbalances
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Increased stress on liver
- Increased stress on kidneys
For the above reasons, licorice root is not recommended for pets with medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, liver disease or renal disease. Licorice also should not be used with medications such as blood-thinners or diuretics. It may also affect metabolism of other medications. When you weigh the risk of side effects, the contraindicated medications and incompatibility with many medical conditions, it may be best to avoid the use of licorice altogether.
Safe & Natural Alternatives
A recent study published by Dr. Jack Oliver DVM, PhD from the college of veterinary medicine recommends the use of two safe, natural and effective options to manage symptoms of Cushing’s in dogs: melatonin and flaxseed lignans . If you’d like a technical explanation of Dr. Oliver’s findings, here is a brief overview: When melatonin is used in conjunction with SDG lignans (extracted enzyme. Why is this important? When aromatase enzyme is inhibited, this helps to lower the hormone estradiol. Estradiol is a sex hormone thought to be responsible for many atypical Cushing’s symptoms. The phytoestrogens found in SDG lignans combined with process can take time, typically from a few weeks to a few months.
As you research the best approach to helping your canine friend, be sure to avoid products containing licorice and opt for safer options instead. Prana pets makes a Licorice free natural treatment included with their Adrenal Support or the Prana Pets Cushings Killer Combo. These nutraceuticals are gentle on older dogs, carry no risk of side effects and most importantly, they’re very effective.