Cushing's disease is a condition which can affect dogs in general and is not thought to be an hereditary disease in the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
Include the pancreas, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands and adrenal glands. Diseases of the endocrine system may lead to the production of too much or too little hormone.
The adrenal glands are in close proximity to the kidneys. The outer portion of the adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney, this is called the adrenal cortex.
The adrenal cortex produces, among other things, steroid hormones which regulate carbohydrate and fat.
Cushing’s disease is the common name for Hyperadrenocorticism* and this is caused by a hyperactive
adrenal gland that secretes too many glucocorticoids, (steroids), into the bloodstream. The adrenal gland produces a wide range of hormones and Cushing’s can cause the overproduction
of any one or more of them. The symptoms of the disease vary widely and because of this it is difficult to detect, however this is a treatable disease.
There are three basic causes of Cushing’s disease:
About 85% of dogs with Cushing’s have an overactive pituitary gland which is a small pea sized gland in the brain producing an excessive secretion of the hormone ACTH.
This in turn over stimulates the adrenal glands and produces an excess of cortisol. The majority of the remaining cases result from adrenal tumours.
Approximately 50% of these adrenal tumours are benign.
*(Addisons disease is the common name Hypoadrenocorticism)
Cushing’s disease is difficult to diagnose, there is no single test to identify it.
Vets generally undertake several blood and urine tests to compare the results to normal levels.
They may follow up with x-rays and/or ultrasound to reveal the presence or absence of a tumour.
This depends how severe the symptoms are and on the general health of the animal. It can be treated both surgically and medically.
These two options are, surgically removing the tumour (if one is present), and the prescribing of medications that slow down the adrenal gland.
The majority of dogs are treated medically.