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  Addisons Disease

 

Common names or abbreviations:

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Addison's Disease (AD), common name

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Hypoadrenocorticism, commonly used scientific name

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Adrenal insufficiency

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Adrenocortical Hypofunction are less commonly used terms.

Description or definition:

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The adrenal gland, one on each kidney, is made up of two layers, the cortex and the medulla.  The outer area, or cortex, secretes corticosteroid hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone.  The medulla, part of the sympathetic nervous system, secretes epinephrine (adrenaline), which is generally not affected by AD.  Addison's disease is the insufficient production and secretion of hormones (glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids and androgens) by the adrenal gland cortex.  In this disorder, the adrenal gland fails to produce enough of a steroid hormone called aldosterone.  This hormone is very important in maintaining a normal balance of minerals in the blood.  This is a disease that if left untreated, leads to death.

 

It is believed that many of the features of canine AD resemble those in humans, which is immune-mediated destruction of the adrenal cortices.  (Autoimmunity is a misdirected immune response, in which the body's defenses become self-destructive.  Autoimmunity may result from a combination of factors such as:  genetic predisposition, hormonal factors and environmental triggers such as viral infections and vaccinations.)

 

It was originally thought that AD typically affected young to middle-aged female dogs, the average age being about 4 years old.  Researchers have found, however, that AD equally affects males and females. Notably, the Bearded Collie, the West Highland White Terrier, the Standard Poodle, the Portuguese Water Dog, Great Dane, Rottweiler and the Leonberger are considered to have unacceptable rates of Addison's disease.

 

Symptoms:

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The symptoms of Addison's disease can be vague.  More importantly, they are similar to the symptoms of many different problems.  A hallmark symptom of Addison's disease is impaired tolerance to stress.  Even mild physical or emotional stress can cause an Addisonian Crisis (please see link to wheatenguy for list of stressors).

 Commonly reported symptoms. Severity can vary dramatically from dog to dog.

bulletAnorexia
bulletThin/Weight Loss
bulletDepression/Lethargy
bulletVomiting/Diarrhea
bulletWeakness
bulletCollapse
bulletShaking and Shivering
bulletExcessive urination with or without excessive thirst
bulletWaxing and Waning Course of Illness
bulletPainful/Sensitive Abdomen
bulletFatigue/exercise intolerance
bulletThe dog may also appear clumsy and unable to climb stairs or jump on the bed. This may be due to muscle loss or weakness. The dog does not have the strength to do normal activities.

Diagnosis:

bulletStudies have found that between 33 to 51% of dogs with Addison's were diagnosed during a crisis as this maybe the first time the owner suspects anything is wrong and may be fatal if not treated promptly.  Addisonian crisis occurs when the dog is in circulatory collapse and shock.

On examination by the veterinarian the dogs were noted to have;

bulletMental Depression
bulletThin/emaciated
bulletMuscular Weakness
bulletDehydration
bulletSlow weak pulse
bulletBlood in feces
bulletGastrointestinal hemorrhage
bulletCollapse
bulletAbdominal pain
bulletPale mucous membranes/anemia
bulletLow temperature
bulletLow blood pressure
bulletGrand Mal Seizure
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After a crisis, diagnostic testing is critical to support diagnoses of Addison's disease.  The absence of a stress leukogram in a sick dog may be a clue to consider Addison's disease.  A more specific test, an ACTH challenge, should be performed to confirm the disease.

 

Treatment: 

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There are two stages of treatment for Addison's disease; in-hospital treatment (virtually every dog treated with IV therapy, glucocorticoids, and mineralocorticoids have shown rapid improvement and there may be a need for intensive monitoring and therapy for several days to stabilize the dog.) and long-term treatment.  Long-term treatment involves the administration of hormones in one of two forms; either a daily pill or a shot that is given about every 25 days.  Stress should be minimized whenever possible.

 

Prevention:

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 According to studies done at several Veterinary Universities, the late-onset failure of adrenal gland function is clearly inherited and appears to be regulated by a single gene that is inherited as an autosomal recessive.  It is thought that immune system-mediated destruction of the adrenal gland is the most common cause of primary adrenal gland failure. Other causes can include infection or inflammation in the adrenal gland; abnormalities in blood supply to the adrenal gland or bleeding within the gland; infiltration of cancer cells within the adrenal gland; the deposition of abnormal proteins within the adrenal gland; and physical trauma to the glands. Rapid withdrawal of drugs such as prednisone after chronic administration and overdoses of drugs used to treat Cushing's disease can result in adrenal gland failure. Secondary adrenal gland failure can occur due to primary problems in either the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland.

 

Links to sites about this disease:

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http://wheatenguy.tripod.com/addisons.html

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http://www.supervet.co.uk/dog/addisons.html

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http://www.cah.com/library/addison.html

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http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/clientEd/addisons.asp

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http://www.animalrightshospital.com/encyclopedia/addisons.disease.html

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http://www.akcchf.org/research/grants/disease/a.htm

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http://www.healthypet.com/FAQ/pet_diseases-12.html

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http://www.glenellynrx.com/encycEntry.cfm?ENTRY=71&COLLECTION=EncycIllness

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http://www.vizsladogs.com/ARTICLES/addison.htm

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http://www.addisondogs.com/  (Support Group)

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http://www.vetstop.com.au/Info/infaddison.htm

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http://www.k9addisons.com/ad.html

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http://www.medhelp.org/www/nadf3.htm

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http://www.fda.gov/cvm/efoi/section2/140583111488.html  (Info on ACTH)

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http://www.southpaws.com/news/99-1-addisons-disease.htm

This summary provided by:

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Cheryl McLemore

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Southern Highland Shiloh Shepherds

 

 

Dedicated to improving the health of ISSR Shiloh Shepherds.

 


Copyright © 1998 - 2009. Shiloh Shepherd Dog™ Club of America.
All rights reserved. Revised: January 2008

The information on this website was written by ISSR breeders and other concerned individuals, however we are are NOT veterinarians. This information is being provided as a general overview, from information we were able to find about each disease through our own research. These summaries are not intended to be relied upon as medical or veterinary advice, nor do we consider ourselves experts in the veterinary field or in any of these conditions. While we do our best to provide the most up to date information, new research is constantly being done on these diseases. We recommend that you do further study and talk to your veterinarian on any topics you see here, as we cannot guarantee that the information posted here is the most current information available.  This site was originally designed and maintained by Debbie Knatz.