How to Diagnose Addison's Disease in Poodles
Poodles are a breed that have a tendency to develop Addison's Disease, which is a disease that affects the adrenal glands. It is passed through a recessive gene, which means the carrier of the disease is not affected by it but her offspring may develop it. There is no test to know if your Poodle has a predisposition to Addison's Disease, so you will not know if your dog will get it. However, there are things you can look for to help diagnose Addison's Disease.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Addison's Disease
1. Watch how she behaves.
There are certain symptoms that Addison's Disease causes. These can manifest in physical ways, which will change her behavior. Look for muscle weakness, which may show up as shaking or trembling. She may also stop being able to jump or play.
- She may also have a decreased energy level, depression, and overall lethargy. This will cause her to sit or lay around without moving much or playing. She may also be less interested in you, in your family, in playing, or other activities she used to love.
- She may also seem restless and won't settle down, which is likely due to a stomach issue.
- It is also possible that she may lose her fur.
- In some cases, Addison's Disease may cause your Poodle to collapse.
2. Monitor her eating and drinking.
Addison's Disease can also manifest through her eating and drinking habits. Your dog may start vomiting or have diarrhea, which are some of the most common and frequent symptoms of this condition. She may loose her appetite but have an increase in her thirst. This will likely cause increased urination.
- She may lose weight because of her decrease in appetite.
- She may also have blood in her stool.
3. Keep a journal of symptoms.
If you notice more than one of these symptoms in your dog, you should keep track of them. Your vet will want to know what your Poodle's symptom history is and how often they have occurred. It is important to note how long the symptoms last and if the time between them and length of their occurrence change over time.
- This will help paint a full picture of your Poodle's disease as help your vet treat her.
4. Notice how the symptoms develop.
The symptoms associated with Addison's Disease are mild in the early stages of the disease. They also tend to come and go, which can make it hard to diagnose in this stage. This means that your dog may have episodes where the symptoms occur and then they will clear up after a day or two. The symptoms may also come in waves, where she will have one symptom for a few days, then that one will clear up as another develops.
- This is most common with the gastric symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms will clear up, only to be replaced with muscle weakness or depression.
- Your Poodle's health may be slow to deteriorate, which means that the symptoms will get progressively more intense and sporadic, which will eventually lead to symptoms severe enough that she collapses. This can take weeks to months to happen. Try to take her to the vet before she reaches this stage.
Diagnosing Addison's Disease
1. Have an adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation (ACTH) stimulation test.
The best and most standard test for Addison's Disease is the ACTH stimulation test. This test will gauge how well your dog's adrenal system works and show if the section of the adrenal system that is uniquely affected by Addison's Disease is damaged. The aim of this test is to take a base level blood sample while your dog is at rest to get her resting level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. She will then be given an injection of synacthen, a hormone used to force her adrenal gland to produce more cortisol.
- About one hour after this injection, another blood sample will be taken to show her new level of cortisol after the gland was stimulated.
- If your dog has Addison's disease, the adrenal gland will be damaged, which means it will not respond to the injection. This means that her cortisol levels will be the same before and after the injection, proving she has Addison's Disease.
2. Get a blood test.
If your vet isn't sure about Addison's Disease, he may want to take a blood sample from your Poodle to run an overall screening panel to check her levels. He will be looking for her overall organ health, specific mineral levels, signs of anemia, and her red and white blood cell count.
- Addison's Disease can cause a shift in certain mineral levels in her blood stream, including lower levels of chloride and sodium. Any significant shift in the sodium and potassium ration in her blood will help determine Addison's Disease.
- This test will also help rule out other diseases and point your vet in the direction of Addison's disease.
3. Have her X-rayed.
In some cases, your vet will x-ray your Poodle to help rule out other problems, such as a gastrointestinal blockage due to a foreign object, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. It may also show her heart, which can show if there is a reduced blood volume in her heart caused by the Addison's Disease.
- This heart shrinkage is due to a reduced blood volume brought on by dehydration and a reductions volume of circulating blood in her system.
Understanding Addison's Disease
1. Learn about Addison's Disease.
Addison's Disease is known as hypoadrenalism or hypocortisolism. It is also called the great pretender because it is a disease that, in its early stages, mimics many other mild, common problems. This makes it very dangerous because Addison's Disease can be extremely serious, in which Poodles with severe cases can go into shock and die.
- Addison's Disease is most common in young to middle aged dogs, which is when she is a puppy until she is around five years old. It is also most common in female dogs.
2. Determine how it affects your Poodle.
Addison's Disease causes the body to stop making mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids, which are substances your Poodle needs to deal with the stresses she undergoes every day. These also help regulate multiple normal bodily functions.
3. Know the causes.
The decrease in mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid production from Addison's Disease develops because of damage to your dog's adrenal glands, which produce these hormones. This damage is most commonly due to an autoimmune disease, which is when your dog's immune system works to destroy her own glandular tissue
- Other causes of Addison's Disease may include trauma to her abdomen or drug-induced disease, which is not necessarily a common cause for poodles
4. Treat Addison's Disease.
Addison's Disease is treatable once you diagnose the condition. Once your vet ensures that your Poodle has the condition, he will give you oral tablets to give your Poodle that will replace the missing glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid. Your dog may instead require hormone replacement through injections, which will have to be administered by your vet every three to four weeks.
- You will also have to add a salt supplement to your dog's diet, which will help with the underlying salt deficiency caused by Addison's Disease.
- These two medications will help return your dog's life to normal.
5. Treat acute Addison's Disease.
Your dog may suffer from an acute episode of Addison's Disease, which is a sudden and severe onset of the symptoms. If this occurs, she needs treatment immediately. She will be hospitalized and the treatment will depend on how severe and which specific symptoms your dog has. She will likely receive instant treatment with intravenous hormones and fluids. If she does not get help immediately, she may go into shock and die.
- After these episodes, it is likely your dog will need hormone replacement therapy for the rest of her life.