Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Updated: February 27, 2024

Addison’s disease in dogs, or hypoadrenocorticism, is a rare condition in dogs that affects their adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are small, paired organs located near the kidneys. This genetic and immune-related disease, a dog’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own body. This prevents the adrenal glands from producing important hormones, leading to hormonal deficiencies.

Addison’s disease in dogs hinders their body from regulating and producing essential hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone. Maintaining the balance of these hormones is vital in regulating stress levels, blood pressure and metabolic regulation of your furbaby.

Dogs with Addison’s disease may find it challenging to adapt to normal activities that involve stressors. Stress in dogs can be easily remedied for dogs without Addison’s Disease. That is not the case in dogs with Addison’s disease, due to the adrenal glands inability to produce the essential regulation hormones. Dealing with internal or external stress for a dog with Addison’s disease would result in alarming, and sometimes life-threatening, health conditions.

"Addison's disease in dogs is often called "The Great Pretender" due to the similarity of its symptoms with other diseases."

Addison's Disease

What Are the Signs of Addison’s Disease?

The diagnosis of Addison’s disease is sometimes difficult to determine. This is due to the disease not having specific and indicative signs and symptoms. Additionally, these symptoms may sometimes wax and wane, making them more challenging to identify.

Addison’s disease in dogs is often called “The Great Imitator” due to the similarity of its symptoms with other diseases. As a pet parent, this can be worrisome. Fortunately, there are still some common indicators that may tell us if the disease is present in your dog.

Symptoms of Addison’s Disease in Dogs

  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Weakness
  • Unusual increase in thirst
  • Excessive peeing

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the presence of these symptoms, especially if frequent, could be a tell-tale sign your furbaby may be suffering from Addison’s Disease. Pay attention for these signs, especially if they come alongside any stress your dog experiences. Nevertheless, it is important to consult your local veterinarian for further tests and observations.

Addisonian Crisis

In some cases, these symptoms may suddenly worsen and may result in a collapse. This is called an Addisonian Crisis. It is a medical emergency and requires immediate hospitalization and treatment.

What Causes Addisons Disease?

The cause of Addison’s disease in dogs is said to be genetic and hereditary. It can also be caused by the treatment of Cushing’s Disease, where too much cortisol and aldosterone are produced by the dog’s body.

Medication for Cushing’s disease such as trilostane, ketoconazole, and lysodren may also be a factor, as they can suppress too many hormones, resulting in adrenal hormone deficiency or drug-induced failure of the adrenal glands. Internal sickness and diseases within your dog such as inflammation, brain trauma, tumors in the pituitary gland, and cancer may also cause Addison’s disease.

What Triggers Addisons Disease in Dogs?

The hormones produced by your dog help them deal with the stress that they feel. Unfortunately, furbabies with Addison’s disease have a difficult time adapting due to their body’s failure to provide vital hormones. Knowing the signs of stress in dogs will prepare you if the disease is triggered.

Common Signs of Stress in Dogs

  • Intense and excessive barking
  • Shift in body posture
  • Escaping or hiding behavior
  • Shaking or tense pacing
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Freezing or stiffening of the body

As pet parents, it is essential to provide them with an environment that is comfy and stress-free. Yes, the stress in dogs can be a contributing factor in triggering this disease. Although stress in your beloved furbaby is sometimes unavoidable, you can greatly reduce it by providing them with their needs.

Care and Management for Dogs with Addisons Disease

There is no cure for Addison’s disease. Thankfully, the disease and its symptoms can be managed and controlled with the right medicines and treatment. Cortisol and aldosterone supplements are given to your dog to help them with their deficient hormones. In extreme cases, IV medications and fluids are also given especially during an Addisonian Crisis.

  • It is important to spend quality time with your dogs. As social animals, they also feel lonely which could lead to stress. Make time to give your furbaby the snuggles and affection they need. Providing them with soft and comfy toys can help. You can also give them Gnawtlers® so they can gnaw away all day.
  • Be familiar with your dog's behavior and demeanor and limit their contact with stressors as much as possible.
  • Give your dog lots of exercise. Exercising can help relieve stress and anxiety as well as a great way to bond with your furbaby.
  • Provide a comfortable resting area. A great addition to your furbaby’s resting area would be Pawtect® Blanket Plus. Made with our tried and tested Sherpup® fabric, this waterproof, leak-proof, and quick-dry blanket will keep your furbaby snug and cozy.

Dog Calming Supplements

Making sure your dog is calm is important for dogs with Addison’s disease. Make sure to keep the energy of the environment calm, to avoid any overwhelming stress. Stressful situations and environments such as loud noises and traveling increase the risk of triggering the disease and stressing out your dog.

A perfect addition to keep your dog calm would be incorporating a calming supplement into your furbaby’s diet. Our dog calming supplement, Calming SoftSupps®, can help with anxiety and promote relaxation. Calming SoftSupps® are healthy and nutritious, specifically made to reduce anxiety and keep your dog calm and relaxed. Made with all-natural ingredients and no fillers, so you can be confident knowing your furbaby is getting the best quality calming support.

Consult your vet before giving your pet dog calming supplements or any additional supplements to ensure they will not interfere with your furbaby medications.

Calming Supplements For Dogs

"Calming SoftSupps® are healthy and nutritious, specifically made to reduce anxiety and keep your dog calm and relaxed."

Caring for dogs with Addison’s disease requires a lifelong commitment. Along with medicines and occasional trips to the vet, you, as a pet parent, must also adapt to your pet's condition. This may include changes in your household and also changes in both the lifestyles of you and your dog.

Addison’s disease may be daunting but with the proper knowledge, mindset, and preparation, your dog can still live a happy and fulfilling life.