From Your Guide
Addison's Disease can be a frustrating disease to diagnose and treat. It is a complex disease, but simply put, it is an insufficiency of the adrenal glands. This causes a deficiency of the corticosteroid hormones normally produced by the adrenal glands; the "flight or fight" hormones that help the body utilize fat, sugar and protein. Mineralocorticoid production can also be affected, causing an imbalance of sodium and potassium in the body.
Initial signs of Addison's disease can include weakness, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. These are fairly common clinical signs that can make Addison's disease an easily missed diagnosis. While this disease is more common in dogs, is not a common one overall. As the disease progresses, the potassium imbalance can affect the heart rhythm, causing shock, collapse and in some cases, sudden death. These more extreme signs are collectively known as an Addisonian Crisis.
A blood chemistry panel will often reveal the sodium/potassium imbalance, leading to further testing (ACTH response test - stimulating the adrenal glands artificially to measure response, if any) and definitive diagnosis.
Treatment for this disease is oral replacement (tablets) of the salts and cortisones not being produced by the adrenal glands. In a crisis situation, these drugs are given intravenously. Addisonian dogs need special attention monitoring gastrointestinal habits, lethargy, etc., to ensure that the disease is under control and maintained.
Please see the "Elsewhere on the Web" links to the right of this article for more information about Addison's Disease.
The Viewer Viewpoint
Another Addison's Success Story!
by Patti Devine
My 7 year old black Labrador/Newfoundland mix was diagnosed with Addison's disease approximately 1-1/2 yrs. ago. She had been taking Florinef,(in addition to prednisone a soloxine for her hypothyroidism).
Anyway, her incontinence was getting worse and worse even though she took 2 tablets of phehnylpropanolamine twice a day! Our amazing vet, David Kirby, researched and discovered that Florinef in some dogs can cause incontinence. She has had 2 injections of the DOCP 25 days apart and only one phenylpropanolamine tab a day and is doing great! Her third injection is next week. My only regret is the cost. But Miss "Pepper Ann" is worth it! Appreciate your time. Hope this is helpful.
Patti Devine, Fox Island, WA