Our final Pet of the Month this year is Peppermint Patty, a 3 year old Portuguese Water Dog who came to Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital over the summer for her preventive care examination and to update her vaccines. Patty was doing well at home and was seemingly happy and healthy.
During her exam, Dr. Wedde noticed that Patty was underweight and had been losing weight over the last year. Most 3 year old dogs love food and tend to lean toward being overweight, so Patty’s weight loss was concerning. Dr. Wedde recommended running some lab tests to determine if Patty had any underlying disease contributing to her weight loss.
Patty’s bloodwork revealed some abnormal changes in her white blood cells and a low blood cholesterol level. These changes suggested that Patty could have an inflammatory disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease or allergies, or a disorder of her adrenal gland. Since Portuguese Water Dogs are predisposed to developing an adrenal gland disorder, called hypoadrenocorticism, Dr. Wedde recommended further testing.
After additional testing, Patty was diagnosed with an uncommon type of hypoadrenocorticism, known as “Atypical Addison’s Disease.” Luckily, Atypical Addison’s Disease is easily treatable. Patty now receives a daily steroid medication to supplement the steroids that her body is not producing. Ever since beginning the medication, Patty has had increased energy and appetite and is as happy as could be!
So what is Addison’s disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)?
In animals with Addison’s disease, there is a deficiency of the corticosteroid hormones which are needed for normal functioning of the body. There are two forms, typical and atypical Addison’s. In typical Addison’s disease there is a deficiency in both mineralocorticoids (salts/electrolytes) and glucocorticoids (steroids). In atypical Addison’s disease, there is a deficiency in just the glucocorticoids (steroids).
Signs of Addison’s disease can be vague and can include weakness, lethargy, malaise, anorexia, vomiting and/or diarrhea. It can even progress to a point where seizures and collapse occur. Thus, it is important to diagnose this disease and implement treatment early.
Routine bloodwork and urine screens are very helpful in catching diseases, such as Addison’s disease, early in their development to prevent them from progressing. This allows earlier treatment and helps our furry friends live longer and happier lives. This is especially important in our older patients. If your dog or cat has not had bloodwork recently, please talk to the Doctors at Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital to see if your pet is due for a blood test or urine screening.
A link with more info about Addison’s disease in dogs: