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  • Cushings Disease

    I just found out yesterday one of my fav little cocker clients has cushings. I started grooming her last fall, she is a short , stout little girl and her mom was not happy with the regular "cocker" cut she had been getting somewhere else. Mom said if she was shaved down she looked like a pig on sticks, or if she had a short trim on the body with cocker furnishing she still looked like a little piglett. I came up with a modified cocker cut to flatter her figure. She is the sweetest liittle girl to groom, never fussy or snappy like most cockers, and when mom would come to pick her up, she would swing those round hips as if to say, look at me I'm so pretty. So, yesterday when she came in, mom told me what was going on. I have never dealt with a dog with cushings, so I really didn't know what to expect. When I put her in the tub and got her all soapy, she smelled like ammonia, then when I rinsed and starting HV'ing her I could see all the dead and gooey skin. It reminded me of peeling from a severe sunburn on a human. Of course all this gook caused her to matt up and there was no way I was going to be able to brush her out, so I called mom and told her I was gonna have go shorter. I know it is just hair, but it broke my haeat to have to take her shorter, silly me. When mom came back, she agreeded with me, since all this was going on with the cushings, it would be better to keep her shorter in order to help with the skin condition. Mom said they were having to take her to the vet every 2 weeks for tests and it was costing boatloads of money to treat her. I looked up cushings this morning and the info I found said it's treatable , but not curable. The life expectancy for a dog with cushings is about 2 years. It breaks my heart., cause she is only 4 years oild. I know this post is kinda long winded, but I just needed to share my sadness. Does any one have experience with cushings and have any advice? Makes me wonder why life isn't fair when those mean hatefull dogs can live to the ripe old age of 15, and this sweet little angel prob isn't gonna see many more birthdays.

  • #2
    Two of my dogs had it. They both lived at least four years after diagnosis. We gave them each 1/2 a Lysadrin (sp?) pill weekly (human cancer drug) and their hair and skin improved very much. It got to the point that my male had to pee all the time and I had to keep him in the grooming room for the last year or so cause he just couldn't make it outside. These two were brother and sister.

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    • #3
      I've known dogs to live a lot longer than 2 years with Cushing's. Sometimes it depends on which type of Cushing's they have, adrenal dependant or pituitary. Pituitary dependant is easier to control, IMO. Fortunately (if you could call it that) most dogs with Cushing's have pituitary.

      Once they get it well controlled it shouldn't be so expensive because the testing should taper off, and her cortisol levels won't need to be checked so often. And once it's under control the skin issues should clear up, and she should drop some weight and lose some of that pot belly.

      Dogs with Cushing's often have low thyroid levels and/or diabetes. It's something the owners should be made aware of.

      Until then, remember that Cushing's causes increased urination and thirst. Make sure you offer water, and make sure to give her plenty of potty breaks. It would probably be best to express groom her, rather than keeping her for any length of time.

      The most important thing to keep in mind is that it's possible for the cortisol levels to drop too low, especially if the animal is stressed, and they can experience an Addison's crisis. And it is a real emergency if that happens. Trembling and vomiting are followed by complete collapse, and the dog can die if not treated quickly. Have an emergency medical treatment release signed, preferably at each visit. Call their vet immediately, and transport if they think it's an Addison's crisis. Worry about contacting the owner once you get to the vet.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by RudyRoo View Post
        Mom said they were having to take her to the vet every 2 weeks for tests and it was costing boatloads of money to treat her. I looked up cushings this morning and the info I found said it's treatable , but not curable. The life expectancy for a dog with cushings is about 2 years. It breaks my heart., cause she is only 4 years oild. I know this post is kinda long winded, but I just needed to share my sadness. Does any one have experience with cushings and have any advice? Makes me wonder why life isn't fair when those mean hatefull dogs can live to the ripe old age of 15, and this sweet little angel prob isn't gonna see many more birthdays.
        >>>

        My sister's min pin developed the disease at age nine. They treated it and drove it into remission. She was 19.5 when she finally passed away. But yes, she was mean and hateful too.

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        • #5
          Helly, I learn so much from your posts. You're very handy to have around! Would you mind elaborating a bit on the relationship between Cushings's and Addison's? I have several dogs on my books with one or the other....
          Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.
          George Sand (1804 - 1876)

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          • #6
            Thanks for the info, makes the doom & gloom I felt ease up a bit. Maybe she has a chance. She did pee a huge puddle yesterday, was kinda funny. As soon as I walked her out the 1/2 door to give her to her mom, she squatted and started peeing and peeing and peeing. I didn't want it to get on her feet, so I was kinda dragging her around as she peeded. There she was squatted down, and sliding on the floor with me dragging her, and it ended up making a huge U puddle in our lobby area. I would much rather mop the floor than have her get pee pee all over her clean self.

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            • #7
              my min pin is 10 and has had cushings for 5 years. he has diabetes for the last 2. he is on trilostane 2x a day. his skin is beautiful. you do have to watch when they get stressed.
              he is fed a mostly raw diet.
              Certified Master Pet Tech Pet CPR, First Aid and Care Instructor
              "Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation." Henry Ward Beecher US Congregational Minister 1813-1887

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              • #8
                Oh, Wanda, I am sorry your fav Cocker girl is sick.

                I think she might just live a lot longer than two years. I have had several dogs with it. My girl has AIHA as you know. The peeing is a huge problem. I have bath towels on the bathroom floor and kitchen for her. She goes out the dog door as best she can. We can't have her waking us up a 3AM asking to go out. I worry about the grout in my tile getting saturated and stinky and stained. I HATE those pills but I know they are keeping her alive. She can barely stand up from her tummy bloating from the food and water. This morning the other dog knocked her down and she splayed out and couldn't get up. She looked like a turtle. I was glad I hadn't left for work so I could put her on her bed. She LOVES ice cubes, so I give her a bowl full to keep her occupied.

                I agree, It does seem the mean dogs live forever and the good ones don't always. It is so cute how the brothers lie near her as tho they know she is sick and are watching over her. They try to play with her and she snarles and says no. I guess they don't understand why she doesn't want to chase toys anymore. Sad, very sad for a not quite five yr. old dog.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by PuppyFluffer View Post
                  Helly, I learn so much from your posts. You're very handy to have around! Would you mind elaborating a bit on the relationship between Cushings's and Addison's? I have several dogs on my books with one or the other....
                  Cushing's and Addison's both deal with the levels of cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a steroidal hormone, and is necessary for life, but too much or too little can have devistating consequenses.

                  There are different types of Cushing's, and I won't go into all of them, just the most common ones; pituitary, adrenal, and aquired. Aquired is easiest to explain. It happens when an animal is taking steroid drugs long term. The levels get too high, and the dog presents with Cushing's symptoms. The cure is easy. Wean them off the steroids. That may not be possible, depending on why they're taking steroids in the first place. If it's not, sometimes lowering the dose can diminish the severity of symptoms.

                  The most common form of Cushing's is pituitary. It's caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce excess amounts of cortisol. In humans they do surgery to remove the tumor. With pets, the treatment is chemotherapy. There are different drugs used for this, but I think the most common one is Lysodren. Periodic blood tests are necessary to be sure the treatment isn't too effective, and cortisol levels are dropping too low.

                  Adrenal dependent Cushing's involves tumors of the adrenal glands. It's much harder to treat, but it's also much more uncommon than the above mentioned forms. I think I've only seen one case of adrenal dependent Cushing's over the years. It's been a long time, though. I think she had surgery for it, but I don't remember the outcome. Of course, I could be remembering it all wrong, too.

                  While Cushing's involves the production of too much cortisol, Addison's is the opposite; too little. Like I said before, cortisol is necessary for life, so Addison's can take a life quickly if it's not treated promptly. Sometimes when a pet is being treated for Cushing's, the cortisol level drops to low. Low enough that it's endangering the animals life. This is called an Addison's crisis, and needs prompt medical treatment. An Addison's crisis can be brought on by stress, so if I were grooming a dog and it began to act like it was unwell, I'd most certainly call the pet's vet and ask for advice. If they suspect an Addison's crisis is presenting, transport immediately, then contact the owner.

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