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Cushing’s Disease Essentials Kit

Supraglan & Milk Thistle to Support Dog & Pet Cushing's Disease

USD $91.90
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Comparing Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs, Cats, and Horses

Vet Talks 4 min read
Brown horse running with a German shepherd in a field on a sunny day. Comparing symptoms of Cushing's disease in dogs and cats.

Cushing’s disease, also known as “hyperadrenocorticism” (HAC), is a very common problem in the canine world. It is not as common in other species like cats, goats, and pigs, but it is the most common adrenal issue in horses. The symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs, cats, horses and other species may vary.

What is Cushing’s Disease?

In a general context, Cushing’s disease increases the amount of the hormone that is responsible for balancing the dog’s metabolism, cortisol. Cortisol is one of the most important hormones to keep the body in balance. Even though this hormone has an essential function, at high levels, it causes hypermetabolism. Hypermetabolism causes excessive breakdown, weakening the immune system. Thanks to this weakening, the animal is susceptible to several other diseases that hinder the life of the pet.

Cushing’s disease typically affects older domestic dogs. Poodles, Dachshunds, Terriers, and Boxers are all breeds prone to the condition. Older horses are also prone to the condition. It does not have a more incidence in certain sex in hoses, however, ponies are more prone to this condition.

Main Causes of Cushing’s Disease

The abnormal production of corticosteroids characterizes Cushing’s disease. According to veterinarians, a common cause is tumors in the pituitary and/or adrenal glands in dogs and horses.

Another cause could be iatrogenic, which is more than the non-indicated administration of medications, such as glucocorticoids. In horses, this condition is called pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). Although it is not common in cats, the cause is often long-term administration of high doses of cortisol-like medications. It is usually not easy to control, but successful treatment is possible.

It is necessary to point out that, in the case of tumors, even if they cause imbalances in hormones, they are not predominantly malignant. The biggest problem is that when this occurs in the pituitary, they compress the pet’s nerve tissue, causing other anomalies.

Tuxedo cat walking on a couch with a labrador dog sitting behind. Comparing the symptoms of Cushing's disease in dogs and cats.

Main Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs, Cats, and Horses

The easiest way to identify Cushing’s disease in dogs is through regular check-ups. This is because, even if pets have several symptoms, they can be easily confused with signs of aging. Let’s compare the symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs, cats, and horses.

Symptoms of Cushing’s can be easily confused with signs of aging.

Main symptoms in dogs:

  • Increased hunger and thirst
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Enlargement of the abdomen (a pot-bellied appearance)
  • Weight gain, as the disease can lead to canine obesity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dull, oily coat
  • Hair loss
  • Darker skin
  • Skin wounds

It is important to note that symptoms such as fever or cough are not so common. But, it is always necessary to keep an eye out, especially if your pet is a predisposed breed.

Main symptoms in horses:

  • Failure to fully shed the winter coat
  • Long and/or curly coat
  • Chronic infections
  • Laminitis or multiple laminitis episodes
  • Hoof abscess or recurrent hoof abscess
  • Excessive or inappropriate sweating
  • Increased water intake and urination
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Accumulation of fat in abnormal areas
  • Loss of muscle mass (especially over the back and hind quarters)
  • “Pot-bellied” appearance 
  • Infertility or lack of normal estrus cycles in a mare 
  • Abnormal mammary gland development 
  • Suspensory ligament degeneration 
  • Recurrent corneal (eye) ulcers

Main symptoms in cats:

  • Excessive drinking (polydipsia) and excessive urination (polyuria)
  • Increased appetite
  • Enlargement of the abdomen (a pot-bellied appearance)
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle wasting and weakness
  • Poor coat condition
  • Hair loss
  • Curling of the ear tips
  • Thin and fragile skin
Brown spaniel dog getting a blood test. Blood tests are one of the methods used to confirm diagnosis if there are symptoms of Cushing's disease in dogs.

How Cushing’s Disease is Diagnosed

Ideally, the pet parent takes the pet to a veterinary hospital as soon as they notice symptoms. Veterinarians use several tests to diagnose an animal with Cushing’s disease. This includes stimulation (such as ACTH), dexamethasone suppression test and concentrated dosage of ACTG, and, of course, cortisol tests that are more specific to confirm the disease.

In addition to these, other tests may be performed to control the clinical status of the pet, such as the blood count, serum biochemistry, urinalysis, and radiography.

If the cause of a pet’s Cushing’s is an adrenal or pituitary mass, there is no exact way to prevent Cushing’s disease. The only form of prevention is the control of glucocorticoid medication.


Treatment for Cushing’s will depend on the cause. If a tumor is a detected cause, your vet may perform surgery along with chemotherapy. To treat the other disease and organs affected by the disease, the veterinarian will also recommend medication. These medications must be administered for the entire life of the animal.

An early diagnosis can prevent other organs from becoming compromised, maintaining your friend’s quality of life. That’s why it is important to keep your pet’s exams and check-ups up to date. This exam helps point out the need for other, more specific, exams.

Natural Support For Animals With Cushing’s

We formulated our supplement, Supraglan, specifically to help balance the adrenal hormones. We suggest using Supraglan when your pet has a Cushing’s diagnosis from a veterinarian. However, Supraglan is not a replacement for medications prescribed by your vet. But, it is extra support to keep your furbaby healthy and happy.

As a result of the excess hormones, liver function can also be affected. We recommend using Milk Thistle alongside Supraglan to promote liver health and encourage the natural regeneration of liver cells. We have both of these supplements are in our Cushing’s Disease Essentials Kit. All of our supplements are also safe for long-term use and it is suitable for many species.

If you have any questions, NHV pet experts are here to guide you and help you with your pet’s conditions. Tap the button below to message us.

Dr. Rebeca Oliveira DVM

Dr. Rebeca Oliveira DVM

Dr. Rebeca is a holistic veterinarian from Brazil with a passion for natural and integrative medicine. She’s been studying integrative medicine and alternative (and healthier) diets since 2015, and now started to study the power of herbs with the NHV Family. In her spare time, you can find her spending time with her golden retriever, Kuga.

Published: June 10, 2022

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