Cushing's disease (also known as Cushing's syndrome) is one of the 400 ailments shared by humans and dogs. It is not contagious. Cushing's disease a problem of the adrenal glands, where they make far too much of the hormone cortisol. This is a treatable condition if caught early enough, although some dogs need their adrenal glands removed.
The Usual Victim
Dogs that are more prone to developing Cushing's disease are over nine years old. For an unknown reason, poodles, boxers and Boston terriers get it more often than other breeds.
Cushing's disease symptoms include increased appetite, increased thirst, lack of energy, hair loss, development of a pot belly, and infertility. Because of the increase in hunger and thirst, a sufferer will urinate and defecate more frequently.
Tumors in the adrenal gland can cause Cushing's disease, as well as tumors in the pituitary gland. Genetics may play a role as well.
If left untreated, the dog will suffer from liver failure or congestive heart failure.
Treatment includes medications (usually mitotane) and eating a specific diet for the rest of the dog's life. In severe cases, surgical removal of the adrenal glands are necessary.