Hyperadrenocorticism (HAC) or Cushing’s Disease in Dogs


Canine Hyperadrenocorticism is an endocrine related condition that mostly affects middle-aged to older dogs. It is also referred to as Cushing’s syndrome. This condition occurs when cortisol hormone is produced in excessive quantities in dogs. Generally, cortisol helps in weight control, stress management, maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing infections. When this hormone is not produced in adequate amounts, it can lead to many health issues. This condition is also known as hypercortisolism.

Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease

It may be a bit difficult for your vet to diagnose Cushing’s syndrome, as its symptoms may be similar to other medical conditions. If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary about your dog, you should let the vet know. Here are some signs that indicate Cushing’s disease.

Cushings Disease
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Visible round belly
  • Frequent urination. Well behaved dog may suddenly have accidents at home.
  • Loss of hair or the hair on their coat may seem to grow slow.
  • Tiredness and inactivity
  • Labored breathing
  • Visible skin conditions, including thinning of skin.

Types of Cushing’s Disease

Dogs are usually affected with two types of Cushing’s disease. This condition is caused due to a tumor of pituitary gland or adrenal gland.

Pituitary-dependent Hypercortisolism

This type of Cushing’s disease is the most commonly seen condition, affecting majority of dogs. Pituitary is a small gland located at the base of brain in dogs. When a tumor develops in this gland, it is said to be pituitary related Cushing’s syndrome.

Adrenal-dependent Hypercortisolism

Adrenal glands are situated on the kidneys in dogs. When a tumor develops in one of these glands, it is said to be adrenal related Cushing’s syndrome. This is known to affect 10% to 15% of dogs.

This condition progresses slowly and can cause serious problems in the long run. Timely diagnosis and proper treatment help in lessening complications.


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