While canine Cushingâ€™s disease can be difficult to diagnose and treat, it can be controlled. And pet parents can effectively manage the disease through a special diet along with traditional medicinal therapy. ?
The traditional treatment method your veterinarian will recommend depends on the type of Cushingâ€™s disease your dog is diagnosed with: pituitary or adrenal.
Treatment Options for the Two Types of Cushingâ€™s Disease
Treatment of an adrenal tumor can be done through major abdominal surgery. If the mass is successfully removed from the patient and the tumor hasnâ€™t spread, Cushingâ€™s disease can be cured.
However, since surgeries to remove adrenal tumors are risky and complicated, medications are often used to manage the disease.
Pituitary tumors are the more common form of Cushingâ€™s disease in dogs and make up 80-85 percent of cases.
Treatment of the pituitary-induced form of Cushing's disease is the most complicated. There are two drugs commonly used: Anipryl and Lysodren.
Dietary management can also help your dog reach an improved quality of life, complementing medicinal therapy for successful control of this disease.
Recommended Diet for Canine Cushingâ€™s Disease
Nutritional therapy, when used correctly, can alleviate the high-circulating levels of cortisol and manage secondary and underlying disease processes. It may also improve your dogâ€™s life span.
First and foremost, avoid feeding your dog table scraps and treats that are fatty or high in sugar, and instead follow your veterinarianâ€™s recommendations to find the right Cushingâ€™s disease diet for your dog.
Hereâ€™s what your veterinarian is looking for in a good diet for canine Cushingâ€™s disease:
Formulated for Adults
- The food should meet the Association of American Feed Control Officialsâ€™ (AAFCO) recommendations for adult maintenance (ideally one that is not formulated for all life stages).
This will compensate for the muscle-wasting associated with this disease and will not be as calorically dense as other life stages, such as the puppy stage.
Low in Fat With Moderate Fiber
- Dogs with Cushingâ€™s disease have elevated levels of cortisol, which increases triglycerides and cholesterol. To help combat these increases, a food thatâ€™s lower in fat (less than 12 percent on a dry matter basis, or DM) and moderate in crude fiber (8-17 percent DM) is reasonable.
First, calculate DM value of the entire bag:
100% - % moisture listed on package = % dry matter (DM%)
Then calculate the DM value of each nutrient:
Fat % listed on bag Ă· DM%
Fiber % listed on bag Ă· DM%
|Label Values||Calculation||Dry Matter Values|
|Fat: 9%||9% Ă· 90%||10%|
|Fiber: 10%||10%?Ă· 90%||11%|
Highly Digestible Protein
- The protein in the food should be highly digestible. Some qualifying examples include: egg whites, muscle meats (chicken, beef, lamb) and organ meat.
Low in Sodium and Chloride
- Your veterinarian will avoid foods that are higher in chloride if hypertension is present. Diets with a low level of sodium help maintain normal blood pressure.
Do You Need to Supplement a Canine Cushingâ€™s Disease Diet?
Here are some tips on which supplements can be helpful:
Cortisol tends to increase calcium excretion and vitamin metabolism. It is not necessary to supplement as long as the food is AAFCO-formulated for adult maintenance.
Antioxidant therapy consisting of a combination of Î±-tocopherol, Î˛-carotene, vitamin C, selenium and methionine may be beneficial in lowering circulating blood fats.
Fish oil supplementation?can help lower circulating triglycerides and fats. Fish oil may also help improve dull skin coat and inflammatory skin conditions that may result from canine Cushingâ€™s disease.
Your vet can recommend supplements as needed.
Additional Health Care Tips for Dogs With Cushingâ€™s Disease
Donâ€™t restrict water. Dogs with Cushingâ€™s disease tend to experience increased thirst, and an adequate source of potable water should always be available to them.
It is frustrating to continually refill water dishes and let your dog out for bathroom breaks (or clean up accidents), but repeat after me, â€śThis too shall pass.â€ť When controlled, Cushingoid dogs will not drink as continuously as they do when unregulated.
If your veterinarian has previously recommended weight loss for your pup, it is time to get serious about a program to get and keep the pounds off. If you arenâ€™t sure how to safely accomplish this, ask your veterinarian for help.
Treatment for Cushingâ€™s disease can be extremely complicated to navigate, and it can often feel like never-ending trial and error. Your veterinarian will be your best resource in helping you navigate the treatment process so that your pet can live their healthiest life.
By: Dr. Laci Schaible
Featured Image: iStock.com/marcoventuriniautieri