Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome in Dogs

Cushing’s syndrome is what happens when a dog’s body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps respond to stress, control weight, fight infections, and keeps the blood sugar levels in check.

There are two types of this condition. One is Pituitary Dependent and the other one is Adrenal Dependent.  Pituitary Dependent is the most common form and it affects about 80% to 90% of the animals who have Cushing’s. It happens when there’s a tumor in the pituitary. The pituitary is a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain. Adrenal dependent happens when a tumor is in the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are located top of the kidneys. Only 15% to 20% of diagnosed dogs have this type.

This condition mostly affects middle-aged and older dogs, and the warning signs may be hard to spot in the beginning.


  • Thirstier than usual
  • Seems hungrier
  • Urinates more
  • Loss of hair or slow growing hair
  • Gets “pot belly”
  • Has thinning skin
  • Seems very tired and inactive
  • Pants a lot
  • Gets skin infections


Our veterinarians will run a few tests to see what may be causing your pet’s symptoms and to rule out other health problems. Our doctors will start out testing your dogs blood and urine. Then our veterinarians will follow up with hormone screening tests like ACTH stimulation test, or a Low dose dexamethasone suppression (LDDS) test.


Usually, a dog with Cushing’s syndrome can live a active, normal life with medication to treat the condition. Your dog will need to be on the medications for the rest of their life. Your dog will need regular check-ups and blood tests to make sure that the treatment is working. The most important thing you as the owner can do is to follow the treatment plan given by our doctors.