What is Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?
Cushing’s disease in dogs is also called hyperadrenocorticism.
When a dog suffers from Cushing’s disease, the adrenal glands produce a variety of excess hormones, mostly cortisol.
More often than not, older dogs suffer from Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s symptoms often mimic symptoms of other diseases.
Common Cushing’s Symptoms:
- Increased hunger, thirst, and urination
- Increased panting
- Pot-belly appearance
- Excess fat on the neck and shoulders
- Hair loss
- Low energy
What is Atypical Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?
Atypical Cushing’s Disease displays the exact same symptoms as standard Cushing’s disease, except there is no cortisol increase.
Instead, the adrenal glands produce increased levels of intermediate adrenal steroids often called“sex steroids.”
Increased sex steroids lead to the same symptoms as typical Cushing’s. However, when the dog is tested with standard Cushing’s tests, the results fail to prove the diagnosis. The situation is confusing for both the veterinarian and pet owner.
Fortunately, hope exists with proper treatment.
Holistic Melatonin and Lignans Treatment for Cushing’s and Atypical Cushing’s Disease in Dogs
A combination of Melatonin and Lignans offer an excellent natural treatment for both Cushing’s and Atypical Cushing’s disease in dogs.
In fact, supplementing with melatonin and lignans helps your dog’s system return to normal.
In addition, both supplements are readily available at your local or online drugstore.
Many plants and Chinese medicinal herbs naturally contain melatonin.
Your dog’s body also naturally produces melatonin. The pineal gland (found in the brain) naturally produces melatonin from the amino acid tryptophan at night. The optic nerve detects night-time because of reduced light entering the eyes and sends the melatonin secretion signal via the optic nerve to the pineal gland when darkness occurs.
In Chinese medicine, melatonin is cooling, nourishes Yin and clears heat to help alleviate the symptoms associated with Cushing’s disease.
In Western medicine, melatonin is often used to treat canine alopecia. Melatonin also helps balance hormones and slow the growth of tumors.
A general guideline for dosing melatonin is:
- 1.5 mg for dogs under 25 lbs once or twice daily
- 3 mg for an average medium to large sized dog once or twice daily
- 6 mg if the dog’s weight exceeds 100 lbs once or twice daily
Research recommends not exceeding a melatonin dosage of 3-6mg every 8-12 hours.
Note: If melatonin makes your dog excessively sleepy, give melatonin only at night.
When purchasing melatonin for your dog, make sure to get plain, unflavored melatonin. Flavored products may contain hidden ingredients toxic to dogs.
Flax Hull Lignans
In Chinese medicine, flax seeds are called Ya Ma Zi. Flax seeds are considered sweet and neutral and enter the lung, liver and large intestine meridians. TCM uses flax seeds to alleviate dry skin, intestinal dryness with constipation, pruritus, and alopecia.
In Western medicine, lignans are known for phytoestrogen activity, with lignan taking the place of estradiol canine tissue estrogen receptors. Lignans also lower estradiol by inhibiting aromatase enzymes and lower cortisol by inhibiting 3-beta HSD enzymes.
The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine recommends giving 1 mg of flax hull lignans per 1 lb of body weight once daily.
When purchasing lignans for your dog, look for a standardized product labeled “Flax Hull Lignans”. For example, potent standardized products are labeled something similar to “40% standardized SDG extract for a total of 25 mg of SDG lignans”.
PET | TAO co-founder, Dr. Marc Smith, finds the combination of melatonin and lignans quite successful in treating both Cushing’s and atypical Cushing’s disease in dogs in his Nashville, TN clinic. He uses melatonin and lignans as the first line of treatment before turning to pharmaceuticals. According to Dr. Smith, many dogs do so well on melatonin and lignans pharmaceuticals are not needed.
Having trouble finding a TCVM veterinarian in your area? Dr. Smith offers phone consultations to help dogs suffering from Cushing’s disease.
Powerful Tools for Dog Cushing’s Disease Health Challenges
There are many quick and easy changes you can make at home to help your give your dog an edge on easing Cushing’s disease challenges.
- Learn more about Cushing’s Disease.
- Try Home Cooking. Visit our Slow Cooker Recipe Page, and scroll down to the recipes for dogs with Cushing’s disease. Often, home-cooking makes a huge difference in helping dogs feel better!
- Supplement with medicinal mushrooms. PET | TAO’s Complement Immune Mushroom Blend eases inflammatory response and immune system stress caused by Cushing’s.
- Try digestive enzymes and probiotics. PET | TAO’s Harmonize GI boosts gut health, which in turn helps your dog better process all food nutrients. Improved gut health also boosts immunity and calms allergic response.
- Feed Freeze Dried Liver Treats. According to TCVM, as when Cushing’s disease is present there is almost always Liver Meridian involvement. Liver treats provide Liver Meridian support like as a glandular supplement (Western theory) and via 5-Element Theory (Eastern theory).
- Learn more about TCVM Herbal Remedies. Chinese medicine offers many amazing natural solutions for Cushing’s disease. A good example is: