How to Care for a Dog With Addison’s Disease

Dogs with Addison’s Disease can live long, healthy lives with the right care.


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Q. Our 7-year-old Beagle-Lab mix has just been diagnosed with Addison's disease. What info, management tips, etc., can you give? There is a lot of information on what Addison's is, but not much help with coping long term.

A. Dogs diagnosed with Addison's Disease can do quite well and have a long, healthy life if they are monitored and medicated regularly. This is easier said than done, and requires a significant time and financial commitment from you, the pet owner.

Addison's Disease refers to an inability of part of the adrenal gland to secrete hormones necessary for the regulation of important electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and the stress hormone cortisol.

Most, but not all, dogs with Addison's Disease are middle-aged and female. Bearded Collies and Standard Poodles seem to be more prone to it, but it can affect any breed, any sex or any age dog.

Signs of Addison's Disease in dogs can be subtle, but usually involve weakness, vomiting or diarrhea, lethargy or collapse. Diagnosis is done with a very specific blood test, done after injecting a hormone specifically designed to stimulate cortisol secretion.

Treatment consists of supplementing the missing hormones that will help regulate potassium, sodium and cortisol. This can be done with a daily oral pill, or an injection given about every 25 days. In either event, blood levels of sodium, potassium and cortisol need to be checked on a regular basis to make sure the dose of medication is accurate.

You can also notice subtle signs that the disease may not be well controlled, such as listlessness, loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea.

Work closely with your veterinarian on rechecks and follow up. Good luck, and hopefully your pooch will do well.

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jo   International

5/5/2013 6:09:04 AM

just a warning to all those with an addison dog which is on pred, our poodle/lab cross was diagnosed but was not doing very well, and kept having crisis so the vet kept upping the pred till she was on x4 per day, her hair started thinning to the extent that she had almost no hair on her back/sides so we were pressing the vet to ask a specialist they came back to him and said to get her off the pred asap as this was a massive overdose unfortunately it was to late to prevent her becomeing an insulin dependant diabetic 2x injections a day. she should have been getting more fludrocortisone to keep her electrolytes in balance, if this is kept right the pred is not needed as much.

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Sue   Cheyenne, Wyoming

3/25/2013 11:01:32 PM

Our 3 yr English Pointer was just diagnosed with AD. He is at the vet clinic in crisis. We had noticed a few of the symptoms but nothing major, seems to be common. Had never heard of AD. We thought he was just depressed by the cold winter weather & lack of his usual long runs with the horses in the Mtns. Now we are praying he will make it thru the nite. I've been researching like crazy since we got home. It helps to know that he may have a chance at recovery & a good life.

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Debbie   Prescott, Arizona

3/14/2013 3:42:48 PM

There is an excellent support group for addisonian dogs, You can ask questions and get alot of answers from the members, all of whom have addison dogs. My dog was diagnosed in Feb 2013 after a crisis, during which she almost died! Stll not well controlled, having to fiddle with Pred doses. Jessie is a (now) 90 lb yellow lab, down 10 lbs since the episode.

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Monika - 258651   

8/8/2012 4:56:59 AM

Sormie was diagnosed last May. She also almost died. She is now only on PercortenV. She is one of the rare dogs that does not need to be on the Prednison. She is a lab mix that looks like a husky. Her hair is now about 2 in long and extremely thick.( was short and shiny . We now shave it every two months. Here in Texas it is way to hot for her to have all that hair. The other thing we noticed is she does not like thunder now and gets scared over any loud noise.

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