Addison’s disease can occur in any breed of dog, but some are more prone to the disease than others. It is important to ask the breeder about any history of Addison’s disease before you buy or adopt a puppy. A reputable breeder will not breed an animal that has Addison’s, but since it strikes later in a dog’s life, chances are it has been bred already by the time the disease develops. Addison’s Disease cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. It requires a lifetime of care from the owner.
Canine Addison’s Disease is a disease of the adrenal glands where the glands stop making two hormones, cortisol and aldestorone. These hormones are essential because they the level of sodium in the blood. The sodium level decreases, which leads to an increase in the potassium level and low blood pressure. Excess potassium stops the heart from beating fast enough to increase the blood pressure. Left untreated, it could be fatal.
Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to Addison’s disease than others. They include Portuguese Water Dogs, Bearded Collies, Standard Poodles, Great Danes, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Airedale Terriers, Basset Hounds, Springer Spaniels and West Highland White Terriers. The disease usually strikes in middle aged dogs, but it can also hit older females.
Vets often prescribe oral hormone replacement therapy with drugs such as fludrocortisone acetate, which works by increasing the ability to retain salts while at the same time eliminating excess potassium. Another option is a drug that is administered by injection called Percorten V, which replaces the missing hormones and regulates the levels of sodium and potassium. Steroids like Prednisone are sometimes given in conjunction with the Percorten V.
Diet is an important part of the treatment for Addison’s disease in dogs. Avoid anything high in potassium, but that contains enough sodium and chloride. It should also have a digestible protein. Talk it over with the vet, who will be able to recommend a good dog food. A dog with Addison’s disease should not be fed table scraps.
Many vets recommend herbal remedies for dogs with Addison’s disease. Do not do this on your own, there could be a reaction with the drugs, but if the vet monitors them, supplements are worth a try. Licorice prolongs the effects of corticosterods. Milk thistle is a support for the immune system. Ginger is supposed to help in the production of steroids, Dandelion helps the adrenal glands function, as does Astragalus membranaceous.