Sunday, July 18, 2010

Addison's Disease in Dogs and how to Help Them

If people have heard of Addison's Disease at all, it's usually in connections with the late John F Kennedy, who had the disease but kept it quiet during his campaign for the presidency.

Addison’s Disease (also known as Hypoadrenacorticsm) occurs when a dog’s adrenal glands discontinue their normal production levels of Cortisol, a hormone that is secreted during times of stress and anxiety, as well as Aldosterone, which regulates the delicate balance of salt and water in the body.

It is seen mainly in young to middle-aged dogs and in slightly more in females rather than in males. Standard Poodles, Labrador Retrievers and Portuguese Water Dogs seem to have an inherited predisposition to Addison's but it can affect other breeds and mixes of dogs as well.

These two hormones are essential to the health of your pet. Cortisol counteracts Insulin production and helps breakdown lipids and proteins. Aldosterone is released as a response to low salt levels, activating the mineralocorticoid receptors gene (MR gene), which stimulates the kidneys to reabsorb and retain salt. This allows for better water retention, thus keeping your pet hydrated.

There are multiple causes of Addison’s Disease, many related to damage of the adrenal gland or hormone deficiencies.
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