Canine Addison's Info



Canine Addison's Disease - Hypoadrenocorticism 

Canine Addison's Disease is *not* a death sentence, as long as your dog receives appropriate treatment. Dogs with Addison's Disease are unable to produce one or two adrenal hormones, and treatment consists of replacing those hormones with artificial substitutes: ie, hormone replacement therapy!

A properly medicated ADog shouldn’t look, act, or feel any different than a dog whose adrenal glands were providing those hormones. Inside and out, all signs of the disease, and the medications used to treat it, should be invisible!

The first hormone that's missing (the ONLY one missing in dogs with primary "Atypical" or secondary Addison's) is cortisol, which manages metabolism, stress, blood pressure and the general sense of well being. Cortisol is a GLUCocorticoid (think glucose, sugar, energy) and is artificially supplemented with a low DAILY dose of prednisone or some other oral glucocorticoid (prednisolone, hydrocortisone, etc.) The correct dose of prednisone cannot be measured with a blood test - it's determined by your observations: the lowest dose that keeps your dog symptom free, happy and eating!

The second hormone that's missing (in dogs with primary "Typical" Addison's only) is aldosterone, which manages amd balances the electrolytes in the body. Aldosterone is a MINERALocorticoid (think minerals: salt, sodium, potassium) and is artificially supplemented with monthly injections of DOCP (Percorten-V and  Zycortal are identical, except for preservatives and carrier), or daily oral dosing with Florinef, in amounts sufficient to achieve and maintain normal, balanced levels of these minerals.

Although there are recommended *starting* doses for Florinef (one 0.1 mg tablet for every TEN pounds of body weight) and DOCP (1.0 ml for 25 pounds of body weight), recent studies indicate excellent results can be achieved using a “low dose protocol” with DOCP.

Whether you begin high, low or in between, the *correct* dose must be individualized, determined by closely monitoring electrolyte levels and adjusting the dose according to the individual dog’s response. Your goal is to maintain potassium and sodium values at a "happy medium" of whatever reference range the testing lab states on your dog's lab report. Values at either extreme end of these ranges are usually not a "comfort zone" for your Addisonian dog, and can actually be life-threatening! 

For personalized guidance and immediate feedback, please check into the “Canine Addison’s Resources & Education (CARE)” support group on Facebook.  For your convenience, below is a direct link: 

Dogs with Addison's Disease can and DO lead full and happy lives once they're provided with artificial replacements for the hormones their adrenal glands are no longer producing!

About us: Catherine's story... Introducing "Catherine" (Lady Catherine von Licorice, CGC), diagnosed with Primary/Typical Addison's Disease 12/11/99) The story of Catherine's diagnosis was second in a three part series of articles on Canine Addison's Disease, published by Ginnie Saunders on "DaDane of the Week".

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