Definition of Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease, technically called hyperadrenocorticism, is a chronic, progressive illness, and is one of the most common endocrine disorder in older dogs. It is named after Dr. Harvey Cushing, who first described the disease in people with pituitary tumors. Cushing’s disease develops from long-term exposure to abnormally high levels of circulating steroid hormones, which are made by the adrenal glands under the influence of the pituitary gland. Tumors usually are responsible. Increased appetite and thirst are among the most common signs of Cushing’s disease, together with symmetrical hair loss on both sides of the dog’s body, muscle atrophy, poor wound healing and a pot-bellied appearance. Fortunately, Cushing’s is largely treatable, usually manageable and possibly even curable, which makes it important for owners to become familiar with the signs of the disorder.