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Whippet Health

a resource for whippet owners & breeders

Cushings Disease

Hyperadrenocorticism or Cushings Disease is a common condition in older dogs, the symptoms can mimic an early aging process so it is often missed. The illness is treatable and the dog can have a much better quality of life when medicated.

The disease is usually caused by a tumour either in the pituitary gland which is located near the brain or a tumour in the adrenal glands which are located near the kidneys.

The third cause can be the treatment of other diseases with corticosteroids which can induce the symptoms of Cushings disease

85% of Cushings disease is the result of pituitary tumour, the tumour is usually small and slow growing but sends continuous signals to the Adrenal glands to keep producing corticol hormones, in a normal dog when the correct level has been reached the glands stop producing the hormone,in a Cushings dog the pituitary gland continues to ask the Adreanal glands to produce more.

The Adrenal gland tumour is less common but the results are the same, the continuous production of corticol hormones

Symptoms of Cushings are many and varied, they appear slowly and progress slowly hence they mimic the aging process


The most common are :

Excessive drinking

Increased urination

previously housetrained dogs may begin to have “accidents”

increased appetite

food stealing, excessive hunger

pot-bellied look

weight gain

loss of muscle

bony,skull-like look to the head

tiredness,reluctance to walk

excess panting

thinning hair or baldness

thin,wrinkled or dark coloured skin

bruised skin, slow healing of cuts

susceptability to infections, especially urinary or skin infections

diabetes,pancreatitis or seizures


Dogs with allergies or arthritic dogs may seem to improve due to the corticosteroid their body is producing


If your whippet is drinking lots more, has increased appetite and coat is thinning then Cushings may well be the problem. A visit to your vet is necessary, there are tests that can be done to diagnose the disease.

Treatment will depend on the overall health and age of the patient , for dogs with severe arthritis for example if the Cushings is treated the inflammation will become much worse and it may be kinder to live with the Cushings in these cases

There are a few drugs that can be used depending on the type of Cushings and the heath of the patient, these options will be discussed with you by your vet


If left untreated Cushings will progress and the dog will become prone to many infections,possibly develop hypothyroidism,pancreatitis,heart failure,blood clots and liver or kidney failure

Cushings disease can be managed and the dogs quality of life much improved, but it requires some commitment on the owners behalf to keep the dog stable and his quality of life good

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