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Supplemental CBD for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease

Cushing's Disease is a condition that affects the way your dog's body produces hormones. It occurs when there are too many corticosteroids in the bloodstream, which can lead to many different symptoms and complications. 

If you're looking for alternative treatments for Cushing's, CBD oil for dogs may be helpful. Let’s explore natural remedies for Cushing’s Disease in dogs. 

What is Cushing's Disease in dogs?

Cushing’s Disease occurs when there is an excess production of cortisol from the pituitary gland (located at the base of your dog’s brain). The cause of this increased production is often a tumor on this gland called an adenoma or carcinoma. These tumors are usually benign (noncancerous), but they can become malignant (cancerous), especially if left untreated for long periods of time.

The clinical signs of Cushing's in dogs

Once this disease is detected, the symptoms will worsen over time. There are several signs to look for in your dog that may suggest Cushing's Disease:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased panting/excessive breathing (also known as respiratory distress)
  • Weight gain despite a normal diet and exercise routine (this can happen after treatment begins or even during)

What causes Cushing's Disease in dogs?

Cushing’s Disease is caused by the dog’s body producing too much cortisol, a hormone that helps control blood sugar, immune function, and inflammation. 

The exact cause of Cushing's Disease in dogs is unknown, but it's more common in dogs over 7 years old. It's also more common in female dogs than in males and can be inherited by the offspring of a close family member who has the condition.

Diagnosing canine Cushing's Disease

Diagnosing Cushing's Disease can be challenging. There are few definitive tests for this disease, so veterinarians must rely on a combination of diagnostic tools to reach a diagnosis.

The first step in diagnosing Cushing's Disease is ruling out other possible causes for the symptoms. A complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile will be important in eliminating other conditions that may mimic Cushing's Disease. A urinalysis may also be performed to check for infection or kidney disease.

Diagnostic imaging is used to look for enlarged adrenal glands and assess the severity of fat deposits in the abdomen and elsewhere in the body. X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can reveal whether there is an adrenal tumor present and its size. Most dogs diagnosed with Cushing's Disease have a tumor on one side only; bilateral adrenal tumors are rarer but do occur occasionally.

If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has Cushing's Disease, they will also conduct a thorough physical examination to look for signs of the condition: increased skin pigmentation around the face, ears, and genital area; thinning hair coat; muscle wastage; and unnecessary thirstiness or increased urination are all common signs of Cushing's.

Treating Cushing's in dogs

There are many treatments for Cushing's Disease in dogs. These include:

  • Medications. A veterinarian may prescribe a medication to suppress the overproduction of cortisol. The medication may come in the form of an injection or pill, and it can help reduce symptoms and enable your dog to live longer.
  • Dietary changes. Your veterinarian might recommend that your dog have a special diet that reduces the amount of carbohydrates he eats each day and replaces them with healthy fats like coconut oil or fish oil; this change may help reduce corticosteroid production in his body by slowing down his metabolism and curbing his appetite while he's on treatment for Cushing's Disease in dogs.
  • Lifestyle changes. Depending on which hormones are affected by Cushing’s Disease, it’s possible that lifestyle changes will also help manage symptoms—for example, regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well being.

What are the potential complications of Cushing's Disease in dogs?

Cushing’s Disease can cause a number of other potential health problems including:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
  • Heart disease and congestive heart failure

Dogs with Cushing’s Disease are also at risk for developing osteoporosis (loss of bone mass), which can eventually lead to fractures and lameness.

CBD and Cushing’s Disease in dogs

Certain hormone-regulating drugs, such as trilostane or mitotane, are used to treat Cushing's Disease in dogs traditionally. In rare circumstances, vets may opt for surgery, which can be invasive and risky, particularly in older dogs.

Instead of surgery or liver-damaging medications that may involve significant side effects, natural solutions such as CBD for Cushing’s in dogs may be a suitable alternative.

By reducing the production of cortisol and helping to lower blood pressure, CBD can help with many of the symptoms of Cushing's Disease. CBD also helps with some of the side effects of traditional medication that is prescribed for Cushing's Disease, such as drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. It may also prolong the efficacy of prescription medications. CBD may be used alone or in combination with other medications. This is a decision that should be discussed with your veterinarian.

CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects, which can be useful for treating joint pain and arthritis, including that caused by Cushing's. It is also used to treat anxiety and stress, which are particularly common in dogs suffering from this disease.

Always contact your veterinarian

If you think your dog may have Cushing's Disease, consult your veterinarian immediately. There are several treatments available, and it's important to get started right away. Waiting too long to treat this condition could lead to life-threatening problems such as diabetes mellitus or pancreatitis. 

If you are leaning more toward natural alternatives, you may want to search for a holistic veterinarian who is more familiar with these types of treatments. If you are more interested in a traditional approach, speak to your family veterinarian about incorporating CBD into your dog’s regimen. Or, you can also obtain the professional opinions from both if you would like a more comprehensive outlook on your options. 

Read more:

Function of cannabinoid receptors in the neuroendocrine regulation of hormone secretion

New options for the medical treatment of Cushing's syndrome