Dog with Cushing’s and pancreatitis

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By Tess Thompson

Dogs are susceptible to many of the diseases that humans suffer from and more. Whereas most diseases are curable, some disorders like Cushing’s disease are fatal. Also known as hyperadrenocorticism in dogs, this disease affects multiple organs. It has been seen to coexist with disorders of the glands and organs associated with the endocrine system, such as the adrenal glands and the pancreas. A fair amount of research has been conducted to understand the correlation between Cushing’s disease and other such diseases.

Cushing’s syndrome and pancreatitis

The pancreas is an elongated organ located behind the stomach that secretes pancreatic juice and insulin. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. It is a rare condition in dogs, and it is suspected that an excess production or dose of corticosteroids may be the cause behind the disorder. In an inflamed pancreas, the pancreatic juices enter directly into the blood stream instead of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The absence of pancreatic juices in the GI tract results in indigestion causing diarrhea, incessant vomiting, and inflammation of the abdominal cavity. It has been seen that pancreatitis is one of the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.

Cushing’s disease and adrenal glands

The adrenal glands are located behind the dog’s kidneys. The cortex of the glands produces noradrenaline and adrenaline hormones that maintain the body’s metabolism and also maintain heart beat and blood pressure. In excessive quantities, they can cause Cushing’s disease in dogs. The disorder is highlighted by excessive urination, hair loss, excessive thirst, pancreatitis, diabetes, seizures, and increased susceptibility to infections.

Cushing’s disease and diet

A low fat and high protein diet is recommended for dogs with Cushing’s disease. This is also the broad recommendation for keeping the pancreas in good health. Although dogs do not run the risk of high cholesterol, a low fat diet still is advisable. If the dog ingests large quantities of fat, the pancreas will need to secrete higher quantities of pancreatic juices to aid in the digestion of fats. A low fat diet is beneficial for preventing pancreatitis and combating the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.

The adrenal glands are most likely the culprit behind Cushing’s disease. It is common for a dog suffering from Cushing’s disease to develop problems with other organs associated with the endocrine system. Pancreatitis and diabetes concurring with Cushing’s disease is fatal.


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