Yuki is a 3 year old female English Pointer. In April of this year she came into Manchaca Road Animal Hospital with the complaint of weakness, weight loss, squinty eyes, and not eating much. We last examined her in March and at that time she weighed 54 pounds. In one month’s time she lost 10% of her body weight, down to 49 pounds.
We decided to start by running some labwork. This showed slightly elevated kidney values. The possibilities included infection, toxin, or other metabolic disease. Yuki was started on intravenous fluids and antibiotics. We sent more labwork to rule out infectious causes, but the results would not come back for 7 – 10 days. After three days at Manchaca Road Animal Hospital, Yuki was eating and feeling much better. She was sent home on antibiotics while we awaited the results of the current tests. On May 1st the owners called to say that Yuki was doing worse. She would not eat or take medications. The owner’s brought Yuki in for a recheck. She now weighed 45 pounds (she had lost almost 20% of her normal weight) and was very depressed. We decided to run an ACTH Stimulation test to check for Addison’s disease (Hypoadrenocorticism). This test came back positive. The test for infectious disease came back negative. We now had our diagnosis! Yuki was started on Prednisone (glucocorticoids) given by mouth daily and monthly injections of DOCP (mineralocorticoids). Yuki began to improve daily and at her recent checkup in July she weighed 53 pounds. The owners are pleased with her health and so happy to have Yuki back to her playful, loving personality.
Addison’s Disease is also known as Hypoadrenocorticism. Dogs normally produce steroid related hormones (glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids) from their adrenal glands. This disease results from the reduction of corticosteroid secretion from this gland. Addison’s disease is primarily found in young to middle-aged female dogs. The symptoms are vague and may include lethargy, not eating, vomiting, and muscle weakness. Many animals may have symptoms for a long time before a diagnosis is made. The symptoms can wax and wane which further complicates the diagnosis. Diagnosis is confirmed with the ACTH Stimulation test; however, since the disease is not very common and has a variety of symptoms, this test is usually done after several other tests are used to rule out more common diseases. The most common cause of this disease is immune mediated destruction of the adrenal glands (the body attacking it own tissue). Once Addison’s disease is diagnosed, it can be successfully treated by replacing the missing hormones (glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids) in the body.