Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands (located near the kidneys) fail to produce enough hormones. The adrenal glands normally produce several hormones that control body function. For example:
It is most common in young female dogs, and you can manage it with hormone supplements.
Humans and cattle can also have this disease.
The main cause of Addison's Disease is immune-mediated--the immune system attacks the adrenal glands.
Other causes include:
Signs will be very mild at first, and may even disappear for a short period, but they return more aggressively:
If the signs become extreme (like sudden weakness or severe vomiting and diarrhea), it becomes an Addisonian crisis and is a life-threatening emergency. Your dog may collapse in shock because it is not able to deal with stress. Go to the veterinarian right away. Your pet will have to be hospitalized and treated immediately.
In order to properly diagnose your dog with addison's disease, your veterinarian may perform the following:
Treatment depends on the stage of the illness:
Addison's disease treatment needs ongoing veterinary management, including monitoring hormone levels and adjusting medication.
There is no proven way to prevent Addison's disease. However, abruptly stopping steroid supplements may cause an Addisonian crisis. Therefore, if your dog is being treated for any condition with steroids, do not stop the medication abruptly.
Most dogs with Addison's disease that receive proper veterinary treatment live normal lives, even after an Addisonian crisis.
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