Cortisol is produced and stored by the adrenals, two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Dogs, cats, and horses, as well as humans, can get Cushing's disease. It is more commonly found in dogs than in cats or horses.
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Cortisol also helps regulate proper body weight, tissue structure, skin condition, and other features of good health. But too much cortisol weakens the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to other diseases and infections.
Most canine Cushing's disease occurs naturally and is either pituitary-dependent or adrenal-dependent. About 80—85 percent of Cushing's is pituitary-dependent, meaning it's triggered by a tumor on the pituitary, a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain. The pituitary makes a number of hormones, including adrenocorticotropic hormone ACTH. The pituitary tumor causes overproduction of ACTH, which travels through the bloodstream to the adrenal glands, stimulating them to produce more cortisol than the body needs.
In the other 15—20 percent of Cushing's dogs, a tumor in one or both adrenal glands produces excess cortisol.
Veterinarians use blood tests to diagnose Cushing's and to differentiate between disease caused by the pituitary or the adrenals. They may also use an ultrasound to help detect a tumor on an adrenal gland. Cushing's disease typically occurs in middle-aged to older dogs. The disease develops slowly and the early signs are not always noticed. Symptoms in dogs include. Most veterinarians treat both adrenal- and pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease with medication.
The only way to "cure" Cushing's disease is to remove the adrenal tumor if the disease is adrenal-dependent and the tumor hasn't spread, says Stohlman.
However, because of the complexity and risks of the surgery, most cases are treated with medication. Surgical techniques to remove pituitary tumors in dogs are being studied, but surgery is not a widely available option.
Doctors recommend balancing protein, healthy fats, and high-quality, nutrient-dense carbohydrates. Increase your vegetable intake to get the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals. Also, include foods high in vitamin C, B vitamins especially B-5 and B-6 , and magnesium to help support healthy adrenal glands. Dehydration can influence your stress levels and force your adrenal glands to produce cortisol. The adrenal fatigue diet has been successful in increasing energy levels and regulating blood pressure because it promotes healthier eating habits and lifestyle changes.
However, you should talk with your doctor before changing eating habits. If you begin to experience any adverse symptoms or if the diet makes your condition worse, visit your doctor immediately. Your adrenal glands produce hormones to help your body function. Learn how to recognize adrenal gland disorders. Many say our modern lifestyle wears out our adrenal glands, and swear adrenal extracts are the answer. Are they right or wrong? Discover a list of foods that can give you energy and help you beat fatigue.
Your adrenal glands produce hormones that help your body burn fat and protein, regulate sugar and blood pressure, and react to stressors.
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