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Cushings disease... What to expect

(10 Posts)
BareFacedKitty Thu 08-Sep-16 23:35:42

My bichon is a real little sweetheart and has just been diagnosed with this. Although I've heard of it, I don't know anyone who's had a dog with it.

My vet is great and has explained it all in simple English but I was just looking for others' experiences.

Little dog is 7 and very tiny. She was a rescue and I suspect there's a bit of poodle in there too, she's a clever little madam!

Symptom-wise, So far we have thinning of the hair on her back and one episode of excessive drinking and piddling. Her levels of cortisol are sky high.

DizzIzz Mon 12-Sep-16 14:13:26

Hi, I will explain what happened to my 10 year old cocker, who sadly was put to sleep a few weeks ago.
About March time she became quite pot bellied and was drinking excessively, so following several vet appts and series of tests, she was diagnosed as having cushings. Her levels were about 660 which is very high.
She was prescribed Veteroyl tablets and had to go for restesting a few times over 6/7 weeks. Not an issue at all, but this was over £1000 which was covered on the insurance and the ongoing medication would be about £120 per month, again no problem.
Quite quickly she improved a lot and was like a different dog, regaining energy and no problems drinking. However, she could not tolerate the tablet, she had the runs half a dozen times a day even dropping to the lowest dosage of medication.
After discussion with the vet it was decided that the meds should be stopped at the end of June. Over several weeks she deteriorated, although not drinking excessively and towards the end of August she started failing a lot, discomfort and struggling to lie down, dreadful panting.
The vet explained that her organs were under so much pressure, and maybe filling with fluid, which sometimes I felt I could hear fluid.
Amyway, that's what happened to my little treasure but as I understand it some dogs can live quite comfortably for many years. Your little one is younger and now with hindsight I think mine may have had this coming on for about 18 months.
Good luck and lots of cuddles for your little one.

powershowerforanhour Tue 13-Sep-16 01:53:57

Cute dog! I'm a vet not a Cushings owner but suggest you try to find an online Bichon forum- Bichons are the #1 breed for Cushings so plenty of Bichon owners will have been in your shoes and you will have a high chance of finding owners of Cushings dogs there.

powershowerforanhour Tue 13-Sep-16 02:24:43

One thing I would like to say- I don't think this is a great disease to take the approach of "wait till it really bothers her then treat" for the simple reason that untreated Cushings slowly and more or less irreversibly screws up more and more of the liver, and you need a reasonable bit of liver function to deal with Vetoryl safely. Luckily dogs, like people, have a lot more liver function than they need but even so, if you decide to treat, start early; if you decide not to treat make peace with this decision or at least realise that, if you change your mind later the risks increase and chance of benefit decreases the longer you leave it. Usually either option is valid. In your case the dog is quite young, the Bichons I've treated have done well and it's usually safe to suck it and see (Vetoryl is by no means completely benign but it's really uncommon for a few test doses to irretrieveably wreck a dog) so in your case I'd be inclined to go for it! Good luck whatever you decide.
Oh yes, and if you do decide to treat, go very easy on the dog while stabilising as you can get cortisol withdrawal symptoms. I had one owner forget the instructions-she took the dog out for a massive long walk near the start of treatment and it collapsed. It survived and was fine, but was a scary moment for her. So avoid mentally or physically stressful situations (long exciting days out or being loose all day in the middle of a kids' birthday party; big long walks etc) till she has stabilised on a steady dose of Vetoryl and her body is used to not having absolutely massive levels of cortisol to deal with stressful siutations.

BareFacedKitty Tue 13-Sep-16 14:02:05

Thanks both of you for your replies

Dizz, sorry to hear about your pooch, it seems like a horrible condition. Little dogs levels were 560 last week so we've started the vetoryl and going back after a month to see if there's any improvement. Thankfully she seems to be tolerating them well with no adverse effects after 5 days.

Powershower, that all sounds like good advice, thank you. She's on 10mg of vetoryl for a month to see how we go. So far, so good. It seems quite a low dose but she only weighs about 4kg. Vet hadn't mentioned about keeping her stress levels down so I'll stick to quiet walks for the next while! I'll have a look at some forums for more advice - forewarned is forearmed!

fortifiedwithtea Tue 13-Sep-16 14:22:13

Powershowerforanhour please can I ask a question. I have long suspected my guinea pig of having Cushings. She has lost a lot of weight but has a belly full of fluid. Extensive hair loss. Hard to tell whether she is peeing more. I have 2 guinea pigs living together and guineas all pee rivers anyway.

I have had her treated for mites numerous times and a course of medicine for fungal infection. No improvement, just even more baldness. Our vet said if it wasn't mites it must be hormonal and would need a scan to confirm. But my guinea is well over 5 years old and I don't want to put her through sedation unless its really in her interest. At her age can Cushings be successfully managed?

Sorry to hijack your post op.

0hCrepe Tue 13-Sep-16 15:33:08

My dog has cushing's and has done so for a couple of years now. She's 13. Symptoms as you describe. She's a large dog (boxer) so has 90mg of vetoryl a day and a blood test about every 6 months to check levels are still right. Her fur improved and drinking and weeing came down.
She still drinks quite a lot and wees a lot and this is definitely exacerbated by stress eg when she stays with someone else or eg when dh went away for a week.

I have posted here recently however as her incontinence got so much worse recently. She would have an accident every night then cry to come up and would also poo and wee in her bed and all over when I was out even for a short time during the day. I was finding it so stressful cleaning up her huge amounts of wee and sorting out poo in her bed as I'm pregnant as well.

BUT we fitted a dog flap and it's been amazing. No accidents since, she sleeps in our room again and takes herself off in the night for a wee. So proud of her, who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks!

BareFacedKitty Tue 13-Sep-16 16:41:54

Oh that's fab to hear your boxer is coping well! They never fail to amaze me how clever they can be! I'm hoping we can get her levels down without too many problems and fingers crossed they stay down. One step at a time I guess smile

daisy5569 Tue 13-Sep-16 19:47:12

Sorry to hear that your little dog has cushings. I have had a dog with cushings, my old basenji (no longer around) was diagnosed at about 7 years of age. Initially had regular tests to ensure his meds were at the right level and then he used to go into the vets every 6 months for the test. Once the meds level were set, he used to have pill in morning and one in eve, he was fine. He never really had a massive pot belly as seen in other dogs with cushings but he drank tons of water.
He eventually passed away a few weeks before his 17th birthday and had been suffering from heart disease.
So whilst the meds are expensive (buy online if not insured) once the condition is managed they are fine. Good luck X

powershowerforanhour Wed 14-Sep-16 00:03:52

Hi fortified, I know a lot lot less about g pigs than dogs, and have never treated (or even definitively diagnosed) Cushings in a guinea. Sadly the guineas I see are mostly viewed by their owners as cheap replaceable children's toys pets and they don't get investigated or treated.
My thoughts, for what they're worth:
Cushings is not something to treat without a fairly strong diagnosis so in your g pigs case I'd want to work it up of I was considerinh treating. The main other differential would I think be an ovarian cyst.
Guinea lynx is my favourite website to direct owners to to read more about health problems.
If you decide to go for ultrasound, does it change what you do- or would it be just so you know? Possible outcomes;
- big adrenals seen, presume Cushings and decide whether to treat? Also I don't know about cortisol testing in g pigs...ask your vet
- ovarian cyst seen- decide whether to risk spay vs try hormone injections vs no treatment bar meloxicam if uncomfortable
- something else I haven't thought of, from the nice and fixable to the horrible
- inconclusive scan result
Might be worth asking on guinea online forums...there will be other people who have had experience with similar signs in guineas the same age as yours and older and they will be able to tell you what theu thought about the risks of investigating and treating, what they decided to do and whether with hindsight they would make the same decisions again.
Good luck, your little pig is lucky to have an owner who cares so much!

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