Is Your Dog Showing These Signs Of Adrenal Disease?


Just as in humans, the adrenal glands are vital to your dog's survival. They are tiny powerhouses that perform numerous crucial functions in the body. But they don't always function as intended especially as dogs age, which can have a profound effect on their health. Here's what the adrenals do and why you need to visit your local animal hospital if you suspect they are not functioning properly.

The adrenal glands: Big importance in a tiny package

The adrenals are paired glands that sit toward the front of each kidney. They secrete various hormones that regulate many bodily functions. You've likely heard of one of those hormones – adrenaline – which is responsible for the fight or flight response to stressful situations. Adrenaline (also called epinephrine) causes the heart to beat faster, increasing blood flow to muscles in preparation to either flee or fight for survival. The hormone also increases glucose metabolism for increased energy. But they do much more for the body than just prepare it to respond to stress.

The adrenal glands also produce a group of hormones called glucocorticoids, which help to relax your pup in stressful situations, such as meeting strangers or other animals. They also help digest carbs, fats, proteins, and macronutrients and turn them into a usable form of energy to help the animal respond to threatening situations. In addition, the adrenals also produce a hormone called aldosterone, which helps the body reabsorb and conserve water.  

When things go wrong

Because the adrenal glands have so many important roles, when they don't function correctly, it can have a huge impact on your furry friend's health. Here are a few things you need to watch out for.

Cushing's Disease. This condition occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much glucocorticoid cortisol. It is caused either by an adrenal gland tumor or malfunctioning of the pituitary gland. Symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, bloated belly, hair loss, and skin infections. Once the cause of the Cushing's is determined through examination and lab work, the underlying cause can be treated or at least managed.

Addison's Disease. This condition is the opposite of Cushing's. It is the underproduction of cortisol and aldosterone. This can affect your dog's immune system, metabolism, and response to stress. Symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea, are often confused with other conditions, so blood work and urinalyses are needed to confirm Addison's. Medications can usually keep it under control and the prognosis for a long life is good.

Tumors of the adrenal glands. Various types of neoplasia can develop in a dog's adrenal glands. Symptoms can include increased appetite and thirst, skin problems, and hair loss. The tumors can be benign or malignant and it's important to determine the type of tumor for proper treatment. Surgical removal or medical treatment can usually manage the condition if caught early.

The adrenal glands are vital to your dog's health and longevity. That's why it's important to work with your veterinarian or local animal hospital if you notice any suspicious signs or behavior. The good news is that with early diagnosis, it's usually possible to manage adrenal disease in the long term. 

For more info about animal health services, contact a local company. 


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