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Addison's Disease

Addison’s Disease in Dogs

(Adrenal Insufficiency)


General Information


Addison’s disease is a disorder of the adrenal glands in which adrenal hormone production is insufficient. The condition may result from damage to the glands by infection, cancer, drugs, or the cause may not be known. Pituitary gland disease may also cause insufficiency.

Insufficient adrenal hormones can upset the body’s conservation of sodium (salt), reduce circulation blood volume, impair heart and kidney function, damage the heart muscle, and cause faulty sugar and fat metabolism. Decreased tolerance of stress is the primary characteristic of Addison’s disease, and affected pets often present in a shock-like state of collapse called in Addisonian crisis.


Extensive blood and adrenal function tests are necessary to properly diagnose and plan treatment for Addison’s disease.


Important Points in Treatment


  1. Initial treatment of adrenal insufficiency usually is done in the hospital because of the need for intravenous fluids and medications and frequent laboratory tests. Your pet will be released as soon as the disorder can be treated effectively at home. Lifetime treatment is usually needed.

  2. Medication: Give all the medication as directed. Call the doctor if you cannot give any medication prescribed.

  3. Activity: Your pet should be kept quiet during the initial recovery period because of its inability to react properly to stress. Once your pet’s condition is stable, activity can be gradually increased too normal.

  4. Water: Provide access to clean, fresh drinking water at all times.

  5. Diet: Ordinarily no special diet is required, but some pets require salt supplementation. The doctor will advise you of this are necessary for your pet.



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