Adrenal Disease in Pets

Learn more about Adrenal Disease in Pets

The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys and are responsible for secreting steroid hormones.  The two main conditions associated with adrenal disease are Cushings (an excessive produiction of steroids), and the much rare Addisons (deficiency of steroids).  Both conditions can be managed, but not cured and can result in a variety of symptoms.  


Cushings is generally a middle to old age disease and can affect any breed but is more common in small terriers, poodles and staffies. It most commonly causes an increase in drinking, urinating, and hunger.  Animals tend to appear well and owners do not often recognise something is wrong because in their eyes, "he is still wagging his tail and eating well"!  You may also notice an apparent weight gain as hair loss occurs, usually over the torso and tail, and a pot belly appearance due to muscle wastage. Other signs include abdominal distension, lethargy, calcinosis cutis (skin changes), and testicular atrophy. Some cases present merely as panting more than usual.  Routine bloods and urine testing will show dilute urine, and raised liver enzymes but will not diagnose the disease.  This requires an additional blood test, once the routine testing has helped to rule out other conditions that may need treating first... like diabetes!  

Control of the disease can be managed with tablets, but like diabetes will be time and money consuming at first while we aim to stabilise you pet on the correct dose.

Treatment is always advised as while they may seem happy initially they will eventually become too weak to support themselves and develop life threatening pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lungs).  Read more about Cushings Disease by clicking HERE.


Addisons often presents as an emergency with a collapsed animal. Other signs may include vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, weight loss, lethargy, slow heart rate, or a combination of these signs that wax and wane.  It is usually a disease of young to middle-aged dogs, and more commonly females. Animals can be diagnosed via the same blood test that diagnoses Cushings, which would be performed following routine blood and urine testing to rule out other diseases.  Treatment is in the form of tablets and prognosis is generally excellent.

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  • Please note this service is not available to book online. Please call the practice directly on 01 885 3253 and specifically ask for James our Vet so that he can give you all the necessary information.
  • *If your pet is sick, please book in for an Illness Consultation when booking online or call us directly to book.