What are the Symptoms of a Dog Dying of Cushing’s Disease?

What are the Symptoms of a Dog Dying of Cushing's Disease?

Watching your beloved dog suffer from Cushing’s disease is heart-wrenching, and as the condition progresses, you might find yourself wondering about the symptoms of a dog dying from Cushing’s disease.

Recognizing the signs early can help you provide the necessary care and make informed decisions during this difficult time. Here, we will discuss the key symptoms to look out for, ensuring you can offer the best support and comfort possible.

The Three Stages of Cushing’s Disease

Below are the three stages of Cushing’s disease in dogs and descriptions for each stage.

Early-Stage Cushing’s Disease

In the early stage of Cushing’s disease, symptoms are often mild and may go unnoticed or be mistaken for normal aging. Common signs include:

  • Increased thirst and urination: Dogs may drink more water than usual and need to urinate more frequently.
  • Increased appetite: A noticeable increase in hunger and food consumption is common.
  • Mild hair loss: Thinning hair, especially on the flanks and along the back, might start to appear.
  • Lethargy: Dogs may show slight decreases in energy and enthusiasm for activities they previously enjoyed.

Mid-Stage Cushing’s Disease

As Cushing’s disease progresses to the mid-stage, symptoms become more pronounced and can significantly affect the dog’s quality of life. These symptoms include:

  • Noticeable hair loss and skin changes: There is more extensive hair loss, skin thinning, and blackheads or darkened skin development.
  • Muscle weakness: Visible muscle wasting and weakness, making it difficult for the dog to jump or climb stairs.
  • Pot-bellied appearance: Abdominal distension due to muscle weakness and redistribution of fat.
  • Panting: Increased panting, even when the dog is at rest, can be observed.
  • Infections: Dogs may develop recurrent skin and urinary tract infections due to a weakened immune system.

Late-Stage Cushing’s Disease

In the late stage, the symptoms of Cushing’s disease become severe and debilitating, often indicating a decline in the dog’s overall health.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme weakness and lethargy: Dogs may become extremely tired and reluctant to move.
  • Loss of appetite: A significant decrease in appetite, leading to weight loss and muscle atrophy.
  • Severe skin problems: Persistent skin infections, ulcerations, and delayed wound healing.
  • Neurological symptoms: Signs such as disorientation, seizures, or collapse may occur.
  • Difficulty breathing: Labored breathing or signs of respiratory distress can be present.
  • Increased risk of complications: Secondary health issues like diabetes, hypertension, and kidney failure can arise, exacerbating the dog’s overall condition.

Understanding these stages can help you monitor your dog’s health more effectively and seek appropriate veterinary care to manage the disease and maintain your dog’s quality of life for as long as possible.

In some situations, Cushing’s is caught early, and the dog is healthy enough to respond well to medications, supplements, or herbal treatments.

In late-stage Cushing’s disease, the symptoms of a dog dying of Cushing’s disease become more pronounced.

The speed at which the dog goes through the stages varies; for some dogs, the progression of the illness is gradual.

In other situations, dogs experience a rapid decline in health.

They may already be frail at the time of diagnosis or have additional complicating conditions like:

  • diabetes
  • kidney failure
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • osteoarthritis
  • heart disease

Dogs with complicating conditions may exhibit signs of weariness, lack of energy, and susceptibility to secondary infections, leading to a shorter duration of life with Cushing’s disease, typically ranging from weeks to months following diagnosis.

By understanding the variations, you can better navigate treatment decisions and provide your dog with appropriate care.

Symptoms of a Dog Dying of Cushing’s Disease

When a beloved dog is in late-stage Cushing’s disease, it can be challenging to witness.

Below are some signs to look out for that may indicate your dog is in late-stage Cushing’s disease:

  • Extreme weakness or lethargy: Your dog may seem increasingly tired and find it challenging to move around as usual.
  • Loss of appetite: If your dog starts to lose interest in food and experiences significant weight loss, it could be a sign that they are nearing the end stages of Cushing’s disease.
  • Increased thirst and urination: While excessive drinking and urination are common symptoms of Cushing’s disease, you may notice these symptoms become more pronounced in the late stages.
  • Difficulty breathing: Labored breathing or signs of struggling to catch their breath may indicate your dog’s condition is worsening.
  • Neurological signs: In severe cases, dogs may experience neurological symptoms like seizures, disorientation, or even collapse.
  • Worsening of existing symptoms: Monitor any symptoms of Cushing’s disease, such as hair loss, thinning skin, or a pot-bellied appearance, as they may worsen as the condition progresses.

Remember, the above signs can also indicate other serious health issues, so it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and guidance.

In consultation with your vet, end-of-life care decisions should be made to ensure your dog’s comfort and well-being during this challenging time.

Assessing Your Dog’s Quality of Life

Assessing the quality of life for dogs with Cushing’s disease is a crucial aspect of decision-making, but it’s not always straightforward. However, several quality-of-life scales designed specifically for dogs can be valuable tools. Here is a good example from Lap of Love.

Also, the following Cushing’s disease-focused quality of life questions can provide further insight:

  • Is your dog’s eating behavior dominating its day? Has it become overly fixated on food, or does it still seem satisfied after meals?
  • Does your dog show discomfort, such as excessive licking or chewing of its skin?
  • Is your dog sleeping well at night and remaining alert during the day?
  • Can your dog maintain their cleanliness, or does it require assistance?
  • Is excessive drinking leading to accidents in the house or urinating in the bed?
  • Can your dog still enjoy its favorite activities, or does it avoid things it once loved?
  • Is your dog comfortable during procedures like medicated baths or topical treatments (if needed)?

By considering the above questions and regularly monitoring your dog’s behavior and happiness, you can better assess its quality of life and make informed care decisions.

Is There Hope for Dogs Diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Cushing’s disease in dogs. However, you can often give your dog a longer, better quality of life by changing its diet and lifestyle, adding supplements, and using other natural methods.

Discovering a natural approach to Cushing’s disease means addressing every aspect of the condition without worrying about side effects. Often, canine patients display signs consistent with Cushing’s long before testing confirms the diagnosis.

Wouldn’t it be comforting to implement a treatment strategy at the early stages of this challenging disorder, even before testing confirms it?

Holistic Cushing’s Protocol

Our founding veterinarians have created a comprehensive protocol for managing Cushing’s disease in dogs. It emphasizes a holistic approach that includes understanding the disease, supplementing with natural remedies like melatonin and lignans, implementing a low-fat diet, providing freeze-dried glandular treats, supporting the liver with supplements like Harmonize Liver, and exploring Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) herbal formulas.

The protocol begins with educating pet owners about Cushing’s disease and its effects on their dogs, offering a free ebook for guidance. It then suggests supplementing with melatonin and lignans, both known for their beneficial effects on hormonal balance and symptom relief. A low-fat diet is recommended to manage hyperlipidemia, a common complication of Cushing’s disease.

In addition to dietary adjustments, the protocol advises incorporating freeze-dried glandular treats to rebalance affected meridians according to the TCVM theory. Given the increased workload in dogs with Cushing’s, support for the liver is emphasized, and our Harmonize Liver supplement is recommended.

Finally, the protocol encourages exploring TCVM herbal formulas tailored to address the root causes of Cushing’s disease and alleviate its symptoms.

View the Article: Inside Scoop: TCVM Veterinarians Share Holistic Cushing’s Disease Protocol


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