Does your pet have good days and bad, or “waxing and waning of clinical signs,” as we like to call it in the vet world? Does your pet have some lethargic days and some days where he or she just won’t eat? Has your pet experienced any weight loss? Is your pet having gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhea, or is your pet urinating more and drinking more water? If these symptoms sound familiar, your pet may have Addison’s Disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, a medical condition in which an animal’s body fails to produce an adequate level of steroids. Addison’s Disease is most often seen in middle-aged female dogs, but can be seen in any dog or cat. With this condition, occasionally your pet’s electrolytes will show up abnormal on in-house blood work — sometimes so abnormal that he or she will require immediate emergency medical attention. Your veterinarian can perform a specific test to evaluate for this disease.
Treatment for Addison’s Disease often includes oral steroids, and sometimes injections. Most patients will need to remain on medication for life, but most pets do very well with proper care and can still enjoy long, happy lives. If you suspect your pet may suffer from this disease, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible for testing.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If your pet is on steroids (including prednisone), it’s important to avoid taking a pet off the medication suddenly and instead to taper the dose down gradually. If your pet has been on steroids over a long period and you suddenly stop the medication, you can actually induce Addison’s disease, and your pet may require emergency medical attention as a result.
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