Cushings in Dogs: Treatment Options Overview
There are numerous treatment options to consider for dogs that have been diagnosed with Cushings disease, also known as canine cushings disease and hyperadrenocorticism. These options are conventional medicinal treatments, natural and herbal treatments, and/or surgery (but only in extremely rare cases). Due to the fact that Cushings in dogs can be difficult to diagnose, oftentimes a natural treatment is recommended by veterinarians. Natural, holistic treatment options for Cushings in dogs are gentle on aging dogs and can be used if Cushing’s is only suspected. Natural treatment options are also less expensive and they have a high success rate. Exploring homeopathic options for Cushing’s in dogs is usually the first route as these options possess the added benefit of little to no side effects.
Natural treatments: Natural remedies for Cushings in dogs/natural treatment options include melatonin, lignans, milk thistle, and SAMe. These dietary supplements have little to no side effects and are often used as a first treatment option for Cushing’s disease. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is produced in excess in Cushingoid dogs, which is the cause of most of the symptoms. Controlling the amount of cortisol means controlling the symptoms. Flaxseed lignans and melatonin both inhibit different enzymes needed in the production of cortisol. In restoring hormone levels back to normal, flaxseed lignans and melatonin can help manage the symptoms. Studies have found that the combination of lignans and melatonin not only reduce cortisol, but act directly upon adrenal tumor cells, effectively treating both typical and atypical cushings disease. Milk thistle and SAMe are dietary supplements that help support the liver. Liver support is beneficial for dogs with Cushing’s because the disease puts a great deal of stress on the liver, causing it to become overworked.
Click here to read testimonials on natural Cushing’s treatment options. You can read about real life experiences treating Canine Cushings Disease with lignans, melatonin, and more.
Conventional treatments: These include Lysodren, Ketoconozole, and Trilostane. Although they can be effective, it is important to remember that they are chemotherapy drugs. They can be expensive and much care is needed in monitoring the results. These drugs are used to deliberately damage the outer adrenal cortex to reduce cortisol production. If the dosage is too high or if the medication is administered for an extended period of time, the adrenal gland can be damaged to the point where it stops producing cortisol all together. This causes Addison’s disease, the opposite of Cushing’s disease, and monthly monitoring and steroid injections would be needed to make up for the cortisol deficit if this occurs. To ensure these chemotherapy drugs only reduce cortisol rather than eliminating it, and to confirm that they do not cause excessive damage to the adrenal gland, frequent monitoring and testing is required.
Surgery: Cushings in dogs is caused by either a tumor in the adrenal gland or a tumor in the pituitary gland. Because of the pituitary gland’s location, the removal of the tumor would require brain surgery, which is not performed on dogs. This procedure would be extremely risky and the cost would be astronomical. While surgery on the pituitary gland is not done, adrenal gland tumor surgery can be performed; however, it is rare because of the aforementioned risk and cost.