Cushing Syndrome in Dogs When to Euthanasia

In the United States, hundreds of thousands of dogs are diagnosed with Cushing’s disease each year. Sometimes, the best option is to put them down so they don’t suffer. In this article, we’ll discuss when you may need to euthanize your dog with Cushing’s disease.

When to euthanize a dog with Cushing's disease

How long can a dog live with Cushing’s disease?

If medication and/or surgery are successful, a dog could live for 2 years after diagnosis. If the tumor is large or has already affected the brain, the prognosis is usually poor. At this stage, many vets would offer euthanasia as an option.

The prognosis of a dog with Cushing’s disease depends upon the type they have and whether their tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

What are the final stages of Cushing’s disease in dogs?

In the final stages of Cushing’s disease, dogs will experience increased weakness, weight loss, and problems with the liver. Their medication will no longer be effective in managing their symptoms.

The frequency and severity of infections and skin irritation will be painful for the dog, so ensuring pain medication is sufficient would be key to keeping the dog in a comfortable state.

When to put down a dog with Cushing’s disease

  • Treatment is expensive and doesn’t always work to help your dog improve.
  • If your dog is constantly having accidents in the house, spending all day sleeping, or looks like they are in pain, it may be time to euthanize your dog.
  • You do not want your pet to suffer or become a burden on you and your family. Making the decision can be heartbreaking but will prove to be the best option in the long run for the happiness of you and your dog.
  • Putting your dog to sleep when they are suffering may be the best thing to do to keep your dog from suffering.

How to treat Cushing’s disease in dogs

The first thing you will need to do is get your dog officially diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. Your veterinarian will perform some tests on your dog that measure the number of hormones that are present in both the pituitary gland in the brain and the adrenal gland in the kidneys.

They may also need a sample of your dog’s urine to determine the diagnosis. There isn’t a completely accurate way to test for Cushing’s disease, so your veterinarian may need to perform a few different tests.

Once your dog is diagnosed there are two major options that you can choose to help solve the problem and cure Cushing’s disease. The first option is surgery. The veterinary surgeon will remove the small pea-sized tumor from your dog’s pituitary gland or adrenal gland depending on what type of Cushing’s disease your dog has.

Surgery may not be an option if your dog’s tumor has spread into other parts of the body. Surgery is mostly effective but can be costly and potentially dangerous to your dog’s future health.

The other option for treating Cushing’s disease in dogs is to give them a medication that helps regulate the production of cortisol. Most veterinarians will prescribe Trilostane to help treat your dog’s symptoms.

Once a dog begins taking medicine to treat the disease, he will need to take it for the rest of his life. These drugs can be expensive and may not continue to work for your dog over time. Your dog will need constant checkups to make sure that treatment is working properly.

Can you reverse Cushing’s disease in dogs?

Cushing’s disease is treated with medications, but the only way to reverse it is through surgery to remove the tumor. However, because of the risks and complications associated with surgery, most dogs are treated with meds.

Dogs with pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease are typically treated first with medication and surgery is attempted later if the disease progresses. This approach is more successful than operating immediately because it allows time for the pituitary tumor to shrink, which improves the chances of surgery.

How can I feed my dog with Cushing’s disease?

The best diet for dogs with Cushing’s disease is raw meat, fruit and vegetables. Stick to high protein sources such as chicken, turkey and eggs. potassium is also important, so be sure to include sweet potato and banana in your dog’s diet.

Swapping to a raw diet should be done gradually. Start by adding a small amount of raw meat, fruits and vegetables into your dog’s regular diet. As long as you do not notice any side effects, slowly increase the proportion of the new diet and reduce the old until you are feeding only the new food. This should take 2 – 3 weeks.

If you do not feel comfortable feeding a raw diet, try a veterinary prescribed diet. This dog food should be high in protein and potassium, and low in fats, fiber, purine, calcium and sodium.

Peas and fish are good choices as they are low in purine, but high in other essential nutrients. Swap commercial dog treats for pieces of boiled chicken or veggies like carrots and broccoli.

Conclusion of Cushing’s disease in dogs

A dog with Cushing’s disease will always have the disease and require medication. The prognosis depends on how quickly the disease is diagnosed and treated.

The average life expectancy of a dog with Cushing’s disease can vary between two years or longer, depending on the severity of the condition and the dog’s overall health.

With treatment, dogs with Cushing’s can live for several more years and usually have one or more periods of remission.

The best approach is to keep a close eye on your dog’s quality of life as the disease progresses and to make sure you are in regular communication with his or her veterinarian.

When it comes time to decide if euthanasia is the right decision, ask yourself if your pet is still enjoying life. Does he or she still enjoy food, playtime, and walks? Or has the dog lost its appetite, become lethargic, and stopped enjoying things that were once pleasurable?

If you are no longer sure whether your dog is happy, consider asking your vet for a quality-of-life scale. The quality of life scale can help you determine how much pain and discomfort your dog is in.

Remember that each dog is different, and some dogs may suffer from more severe symptoms than others. Weighing all the factors can be difficult when making this decision, so do not hesitate to ask your vet for advice or recommendations.

Dogs and Cushing's Disease
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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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