If your dog has Cushing’s disease, help exists. Cushing’s disease, also called hyperadrenocorticism, is a disorder in which the adrenal gland produces too much cortisol.Anatomically, the triangular shaped adrenal glands sit adjacent to the kidneys. The outer layer, called the cortex, primarily produces three hormones:
- Cortisol – regulates metabolic activity and the immune system
- Aldosterone – blood pressure and water metabolism
- Sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone
Two forms of Cushing’s disease exist in dogs:
Typical Cushing’s DiseaseIn this type, the adrenal cortex produces too much cortisol resulting in irregular metabolic and immune system activity. Typical Cushing’s results from hypersecretion of ACTH from the pituitary gland, a gland located at the base of the brain. For this reason, Cushing’s disease originating from the pituitary gland is termed pituitary-dependent Cushing’s. As many as 80% of dogs diagnosed with Cushing’s are labeled as pituitary-dependent. The other 20% of the time, tumors in the adrenal glands cause the disease. This situation represents adrenal-dependent Cushing’s.
Atypical Cushing’s DiseaseOnly recently identified, this type occurs when the adrenal cortex produces an excess of steroid hormones. The excess steroid hormones produce symptoms similar to the symptoms of typical Cushing’s. Generally speaking, both typical and atypical Cushing’s disease affect males and females equally and middle age to older dogs of all breeds. Melatonin and Lignans Treatment A general guideline for dosing melatonin is:
- 1.5 mg for dogs under 25 pounds of body weight once or twice daily
- 3 mg for an average medium to a large sized dog once or twice daily
- 6 mg if the dog’s weight exceeds 100 lbs once or twice daily
- Research recommends not exceeding a melatonin dosage of 3-6mg every 8-12 hours.
- SDG flax hull lignans – 1 mg per pound of body weight
- HMR lignans – total doses of 10 mg – 4 mg daily should be adequate for small to large dogs