How I can manage my dog’s Addison’s disease?

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If your dog has been diagnosed with Addison’s disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, her adrenal glands are not adequately producing the hormones known as corticosteroids, which aid in the metabolism of sugar, fat and protein and enable it to adapt to stress.

If not treated, Addison’s disease can lead to serious health complications. Your dog’s metabolism is not functioning properly and the imbalance of electrolytes can add strain to its heart. The reduced ability of your dog’s body to deal with stress can lead to an Addisonian crisis. This means that it is critical to work with your veterinarian and follow his instructions to provide proper treatment for this disease.

Your dog will likely need to be on lifelong medications for Addison’s disease, including a once or twice daily oral dose of hydrocortisone to restore normal levels of glucocorticoid in the body. Fludrocortisone is prescribed to replace the second missing hormone, a mineralocorticoid. Another treatment option, called Percorten-V, is an injectable medication that may be given approximately every 25 days.

For the first several weeks after diagnosis of Addison’s disease you will need to return to your vet’s office every week or so to check your dog’s electrolyte levels. The dosage of medication may be adjusted to maintain proper levels, and once they have stabilized, they may only need to be checked once or twice a year.

In order to ensure that your dog has a good response to treatment, it is important that you follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully. Do not change the dosages or the brand of medication without checking with your vet. You may want to avoid excessive stress, due to your dog’s body’s reduced ability to deal with these challenges, and let your veterinarian know if you think your dog will be exposed to extended periods of stress, such as boarding or house guests.

Keep in touch with your vet about your pet’s health and let him know if you see anything that concerns you. With proper treatment and monitoring, your pet can live a long and happy life.

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