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Canine Endocrine Disease

Canine Endocrine Disease What is an Endocrine Disease?

Endocrine is a term that is used to describe the secretion of hormones within the body. These hormones are produced by the endocrine glands (ie the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands), however, other organs such as the pancreas, testicles, and ovaries have an endocrine role as well.

What does Hypo– vs Hyper– mean?

Hypo– means to be abnormally low or deficient.
Hyper– means to be abnormally high or excessive.

These word elements are used to describe the level of function in regards to a particular endocrine gland.

What is Hypothyroid Disease?

Hypothyroidism is a disease of the thyroid gland that results in a deficiency of thyroid hormone (T4). The most typical causes of hypothyroidism are related to destruction of the thyroid tissue due to the immune system reacting against it (immune mediated disease) or due to atrophy of the gland. Hypothyroid disease primarily affects dogs and not cats.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

This is a disease process that relates to the inability of the body to make insulin or respond to insulin that is produced by the pancreas. Normally, the pancreas will secrete insulin in response to a rise in blood sugar (glucose) due to recent ingestion of food. The insulin helps channel the glucose (energy) from the blood into the body&’s cells. If insulin is not available then the level of blood glucose will remain high in the blood but the cells will not receive the nutrition. When the blood glucose gets above a certain level it will pass through the kidneys (at normal glucose levels this should not happen). Glucose is a very large molecule and when it passes through the kidneys it drags water with it due to osmosis. The end result is an animal that is peeing and drinking more! Diabetes is a very serious disease, if it goes undiagnosed or untreated it can ultimately lead to death.

What is Cushing&’s Disease or Hyperadrenocorticism?

Canines with Cushing&&’s Disease have a condition where there is an excess production of glucocorticoids, specifically cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, which are located in the abdomen. The adrenal glands are stimulated to produce cortisol by the ACTH hormone, which is secreted by the pituitary gland located in the brain. Most dogs with Cushing&’s Disease (~85%) have a functional tumor in the pituitary gland that is making to much ACTH hormone and thus the adrenal glands make too much cortisol. The other 15% of dogs have a primary adrenal tumor that is making too much cortisol by itself. The end result of both forms of Cushing&’s disease is too much cortisol in the body which causes many different clinical signs (over forty), but the primary signs are increased thirst, urination, appetite, decreased hair growth, and panting!

What is Addison&’s Disease or Hypoadrenocorticism?

In animals with Addison&’s Disease, the adrenal gland does not produce enough steroids. The two classes of steroids that are deficient are glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are needed for the body to adapt physiologically to stress and to maintain general body balance. Mineralocorticoids are needed to maintain appropriate levels of electrolytes (Sodium and Potassium) in the body. This disease is also known as “The Great Pretender” because it mimics many other types of disease processes and therefore may not be considered as a primary rule out.

Disease

Clinical Signs

Diagnosis

Treatment

Prognosis

Hypothyroid

Abnormal weight gain in the face of a normal diet, lethargy, heat seeking, chronic ear and skin infections, poor hair coat, weakness, seizures

Chemistry Panel, Complete Blood Cell count, Urine analysis, and most importantly a Thyroid Profile (i.e.T4, TSH, free T4, T3)

Oral supplementation with a synthetic thryoid hormone (levothyroxine).

Excellent

Diabetes Mellitus

Increased thirst and urination, urinary tract infections, weakness, weight loss.

Chemistry Panel, Complete Blood Cell Count, and Urine analysis.

Insulin therapy and an appropriate diet.

Good with response to insulin therapy.

Cushing’s Disease
(Hyperadrenocorticism)

Increases in thirst, urination, appetite, and panting. Symetrical hair loss and thinning, pot-bellied, pigmentary change in the skin, skin infections, urinary infections and many others.

Chemistry panel, complete blood cell count, urine analysis, ACTH stimulation test, and / or Low Dose Dexamethasone Test or High Dose Dexamethasone Test, blood pressure, urine cortisol:creatinine ratio.

Oral medication(s) and or Surgery depnding on the cause.

Fair to Good depending on cause of Cushing’s disease as well as individual response to therapy.

Addison’s Disease Hypoadrenocorticism)

Weakness, depression vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, low body temperature, decreased heart rate.

Chemistry panel, complete blood cell count, urine analysis, ACTH stimulation test.

Supplementaion of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid steroids through oral medications or injectable medications (i.e. prednisone, Florinef, Percorten).

Excellent if diagnosed and treated appropriately.

 

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