TCVM Dog Food Recipe for Early-Stage Cushing’s Disease


Feeding for Early Stage Cushing’s Disease

Understanding early-stage Cushing’s disease requires an overall understanding of Cushing’s in general.

Cushing’s disease is a condition occurring when a dog’s adrenal glands produce too much of certain hormones.

The medical term for Cushing’s disease is hyperadrenocorticism.

Dogs suffering from Cushing’s disease go through three basic stages: early-stage, mid-stage, and late-stage.

Feeding the appropriate TCVM diet during each stage energetically balances your dog.

Being energetically balanced will make your dog feel much better and help alleviate symptoms associated with Cushing’s disease.

The information below is specific to early-stage Cushing’s Disease.

Signs of Early-Stage Dog Cushing’s Disease

When a dog enters the early stages of Cushing’s disease, obvious signs and symptoms appear.

In TCVM practice, veterinarians usually find dogs in early-stage Cushing’s disease falling into two categories, Liver Qi Stagnation, and Yin Deficiency.

Your TCVM vet will also explain in detail what your dog is experiencing and what to expect.

For educational purposes, below is a list of common early-stage Cushing’s symptoms.

Liver Qi Involvement

Some Western clinical signs suggesting Liver Qi involvement are:

  • Belching, flatulence
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea, constipation
  • Irritability, restlessness, and anxiety
  • Depression and fatigue

Yin Involvement

Some Western clinical signs suggesting Yin involvement are:

  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Panting, especially at night
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • General weakness
  • A dry cough
  • Dry feces
  • Trembling
  • Alopecia

Recipe for Dogs in Early-Stage Cushing’s Disease

Use Eastern Food Therapy to energetically balance your dog and make him/her feel better.

A nutritionally balanced canine diet for dogs with Cushing’s disease contains:

  • 60% – 80% Protein – mostly from meat
  • 20% – 40% Carbohydrates – from grains, vegetables, and fruit
  • A minimum of 2% fat and a maximum of 16% fat

Special Cushing’s Concerns

Dogs with Cushing’s disease also often suffer from hyperlipidemia–too much fat in the blood.

To counteract hyperlipidemia, you must feed to lower the amount of circulating fats in the blood.

The best way to lower the amount of circulating fats is to keep the fat in your dog’s diet below 16%.

If you have trouble doing the math, you can use a nutrient counter like what’s available on Livestrong or FitBit websites. An easy way to keep the fat at a minimum is to use lean meat.

You also need to be careful what treats you feed a dog with Cushing’s disease. The best treats for Cushing’s disease, freeze-dried organ meats, are naturally low in fat.

Use the list of foods below to create endless delicious recipe combinations for your furry friend!

Mix up the ingredients as needed to create a food that your dog loves.

Food List for Dogs in Early-Stage Cushing’s Disease

As we explained earlier, dogs in the early stages of Cushing’s disease usually fall into two main categories, Liver Qi Stagnation, and Yin Deficiency. You’ll need to see a TCVM-trained veterinarian

Foods List for Dogs with Liver Qi Involvement

Cooling Foods (75-90% of Diet)

  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Rabbit
  • Pearled barley
  • Brown rice
  • Mung beans
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Bamboo shoot
  • Kiwis
  • Mangos

Foods to Resolve Stagnation 

(Feed Sparingly – 10%-20% of Diet)

  • Chicken
  • Rabbit
  • Beef
  • Crab
  • Shrimp
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Tangerine peel
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Apple cider vinegar

Foods to Avoid

Don’t overfeed Stagnation resolving foods. Also, avoid high-carbohydrate foods. Avoid over-feeding. Avoid high-carbohydrate foods.

Food List for Dogs with Yin Deficiency

Cooling Foods

  • Rabbit
  • Duck
  • Eggs
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • String beans
  • Barley
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Peas
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Blueberries

Early-Stage Cushing’s Disease Dog Food Recipe

Using the most appropriate food list from above, mix and match your dog’s favorites from the list in the ratios shown below.

The basic guidelines are:

  • 5 lbs from the “Meat/Protein Source” list
  • 1 1/2 lbs from the “Vegetables/Fruits” list
  • 1 1/2 lbs from “Grains/Beans/Starch” list

Sample Early-Stage Cushing’s Disease Dog Food Recipe

3 pounds of meat
2 pounds of organ meat (varied)
1 1/2 pounds of vegetables (see “vegetable” list above)
1 pound sweet potatoes
1/2 pound brown rice (cooked weight – or 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice + 1 cup water)

Note: Remember you want to keep fat between 2% and 16%, so choose lean cuts and remove excess fat from meats.


Debone and chop meat and vegetables.

Place all ingredients in crockpot layering:

  • Slow cooking root vegetables on the bottom
  • Meat in the middle
  • Fast cooking items on top

Top with 1 cup of water.

Cook on low for 4 hours.

In addition, add the following to your pet’s diet:

Feeding Schedule:

Feed 1.5 cups per 25 pounds of body weight twice daily

Make sure to give your dog a canine multivitamin while on this plan!

Monitor your pet’s weight. If an undesirable weight loss occurs, please contact your veterinarian immediately so that you can make an adjustment.

Learn More About:

Powerful Tools for Dog Cushing’s Disease Health Challenges

There are many quick and easy changes you can make at home to help you give your dog an edge on easing Cushing’s disease challenges.

                                              Get A Phone Consultation with One of Our TCVM Veterinarians


Please consult with your veterinarian and use personal judgment when cooking at home for your dog. Even though pet food recalls and the poor quality of some pet foods are a concern, many veterinarians voice concerns over homemade diets. Some vets feel that when fed exclusively, homemade diets may result in vitamin/mineral deficiencies that can adversely affect a pet’s health. If you choose to feed your dog a homemade diet, you must understand and meet your dog’s needs to stay healthy.  
Please share our recipe with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can advise you on supplements for your pet’s individual situation. Monitor your dog’s health by observing his/her temperament, skin, coat, and waste. If you notice anything strange, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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