Could this be what your dog has?

November 23rd, 2020 at 10:02 am EDT
Hello Friend,

Welcome to Monday!

Today's newsletter covers a disease that is difficult to diagnose, but important to be know about as it affects so many's a hormonal disorder affecting the adrenal gland.

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What is Addison's Disease in Dogs? (Source: Veterinary Partner)

Adrenal Hormones

The adrenal gland is so named because it is located just forward of the kidney (renal means kidney). The center of the gland is called the medulla and the outer area is the cortex. While both areas produce hormones, Addison's disease concerns the hormones produced by the cortex; these hormones are called corticosteroids.

Corticosteroid hormones are needed to adapt to stressful situations and without these hormones, even small stresses could lead to physiologic disaster.

Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's Disease) is a Deficiency in Corticosteroid Hormones

In animals with Addison's disease, there is a deficiency of the corticosteroid hormones. It is unusual to discover the direct cause of this deficiency unless the patient is taking medications that disrupt adrenal balance (like ketoconazole, Lysodren or trilostane) but, fortunately, the disease can be managed by giving corticosteroid hormones even if the cause of the deficiency is unknown.


Symptoms of Addison’s Disease in Dogs

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Gradual weight loss
  • Thirst
  • Shaking
  • Depression

These symptoms are vague in most dogs, and the disease has a gradual onset. Addison’s is called “the Great Pretender” because it mimics many other conditions.


This is primarily a disease of young (4-5 years) female dogs. Breeds include: the Great Dane, the West Highland White Terrier, all sizes of Poodles, and Portuguese Water Dogs. 

It is a difficult disease to diagnose, as signs include listlessness, vomiting or diarrhea, inappetance, or in the vet world ADR (‘Ain’t Doing Right’). 

It can lead to an ‘Addisonian Crisis‘. The animal collapses in shock due to low blood sugar and high potassium levels. The potassium disrupts the heart rhythm, heart rate slows, and arrhythmias result.


At first signs are vague: listlessness, possibly some vomiting or diarrhea. The dog just does not seem to feel right but not in an obvious way and may seem more or less normal most of the time as symptoms wax and wane with stress. This vague waxing and waning goes on and on with the dog never really getting fully sick but never staying well either. Eventually, the disease comes to a head in a phenomenon known as an Addisonian crisis.

Because it can present with a variety of symptoms, Addison's disease has earned the medical nickname "The Great Imitator." You would think that you could simply look for an increase in potassium and/or drop in sodium on a basic laboratory blood panel, but it turns out spot checks of electrolyte values like this are not reliable enough for a diagnosis of Addison's disease.


Classically, veterinarians are presented with a young animal in shock. There is usually no history of trauma or toxic exposure so general treatment for shock is initiated. This consists of rapid administration of fluids (usually lactated ringers solution, which has little potassium and a moderate amount of sodium) plus some glucocorticoids. By coincidence, this also happens to be similar to the specific treatment for Addison's disease so that often the patient simply recovers without the veterinarian really knowing why.


BLOOD TESTS. Your veterinarian can perform screening blood tests. If you are suspecting Addison’s, ensure that they test for the electrolytes (sodium and potassium). Many in-house Veterinary labs don’t measure electrolyte status. The definitive test for Addison's disease is the ACTH stimulation test. Your dog receives a dose of ACTH, and a normal animal will show an elevation in Cortisol in response to ACTH while an Addisonian will not respond.

HORMONE REPLACEMENT. Replacement of the missing hormones with oral Fludrocortisone (Florinef). Florinef is given usually twice a day. Most pets will also be given oral prednisone.

VITAMIN/MINERAL SUPPLEMENT. Supplement with a quality vitamin/mineral mix, such as Dr. Jones’ Ultimate Canine Health Formula. Your dog is hormone deficient, and ensuring that they are nutrient balanced lessens the chance of an Addisonian Crisis.

OMEGA 3 HELP. Supplement with additional flax/fish/krill oil, as the Omega 3’s are thought to help stabilize the Adrenal Gland. The dose is 1 teaspoon per cup of dog food as ground flax or 500 mg per 10 lbs daily of flax/fish or krill oil.

NETTLE, DANDELION AND PARSLEY. Utilize the tonic herbs to boost your pet's overall immune system, and their ability to cleanse toxins. Give Nettle, Dandelion and Parsley as a tincture or dry mixed into the food. Dose: 1 ml per 10 lbs of the combined herbs, mix them with equal parts.

CANNABIDIOL (CBD). Many people with Addison's Disease are finding CBD to be vey helpful in terms of regulating mood, pain and increasing their appetite. Research shows that 75% of patients who are suffering from Addison’s disease is due to an autoimmune reaction or autoimmune condition. When discovered due its early stages, the use of CBD offers the possibility of preventing Addison’s. Dog CBD dose is 3mg/10lbs daily. 

Heal Your Pet At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM
P.S. It's important to be aware of this, and more common health conditions, as not every veterinarian is going to have Addison's Disease on their radar..

Especially if you have a middle aged female dog, Great Dane, the West Highland White Terrier, all sizes of Poodles, or Portuguese Water Dog, with waxing/waning symptoms of ADR (Ain't Doing Right)

If so.. discuss with your vet

P.P.S. If you have YET to try Cannabidol (CBD), now is as good as any, especially as it is a natural way to help treat, and potentially prevent some of the common diseases.

You can get your discounted bottle by going here

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. Dr Andrew Jones resigned from the College of Veterinarians of B.C. effective December 1 2010, meaning he cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make specific medical recommendations for your pet.

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