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D2007-13

Dear Daisy Dog

My 11-year-old husky drinks over three gallons of water every day, and he urinates hourly.

My veterinarian ruled out diabetes, but he suspects his adrenal glands are abnormal. He recommends a blood test that will take several hours. Will it help?

Daisy Responds

It sounds like your husky may have Cushing’s disease, also called hyperadrenocorticism.

If he does, the adrenal glands in his abdomen are overactive -– that’s the “hyper” part of the disease’s name -– so they produce too much cortisol hormone -– thus the “corticism.”

Excessive cortisol causes the most common signs of Cushing’s disease: increased drinking and urination.

Often, Cushingoid dogs have voracious appetites and pant a lot. They also may have thin hair and a pot belly, because of an enlarged liver and poor abdominal muscle tone.

The excessive production of cortisol occurs for one of two reasons.

In 85 percent of affected dogs, the pituitary gland near the brain produces excessive amounts of a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands to increase production of cortisol.

In the remaining 15 percent of dogs, a mass on one of the adrenal glands independently produces excessive cortisol. Half of these masses are cancerous; half are benign.

I recommend that you have your veterinarian do the blood test to determine whether your dog has Cushing’s disease.

Once the diagnosis is made, treatment can begin. The most common is a medication called Lysodren, which decreases the adrenal gland’s production of cortisol.

If your husky has an adrenal mass, the diseased gland can be surgically removed.

With treatment, his drinking and urination should return to normal.

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