Addison’s disease in dogs

Posted by Dr Dog. February 19th 2018.

Most people probably haven’t even heard of Addison’s disease. Dog owners should be aware of the symptoms, as it may be fatal to their pets.

Dog with Addison's Disease looks sad resting on tiled floor

What is Addison’s disease?

Hypoadrenocorticism, also known as Addison’s disease, is a serious illness that affects a dog’s adrenal glands.

The adrenals are bean-shaped glands. They sit next to the kidneys and produce a number of important hormones.

These hormones help to regulate your dog’s internal organs and body systems. They include:

  • Adrenaline – the “flight or fight” hormone
  • Cortisol – this helps your dog’s immune system and metabolism
  • Aldosterone – this controls blood pressure, as well as water and salt balance

An imbalance in adrenal hormones can result in serious health consequences. Addison’s disease develops when there is a deficiency in one or more of the hormones.

Addison’s disease causes

Young to middle-aged female dogs are at highest risk of developing the disease. However, dogs of any age or sex can develop Addison’s disease.

The disease is most commonly caused by a dog’s own immune system destroying the gland tissues. Other causes also include adrenal tumours, trauma and certain drugs.

Poorly German Shepherd is Treated for Addison's Disease at The Vets

Addison’s disease symptoms

Addison’s disease is known as “the great pretender”. This is because symptoms can be vague or similar to those caused by other diseases.

Common symptoms of Addison’s disease can include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, increased urination and hair loss.

If your pet displays any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your vet for further advice and treatment.

Due to the disease, sudden and severe symptoms can develop, including low blood pressure. This is called an “Addisonian crisis”. An Addisonian crisis requires emergency treatment.

Addison’s disease treatment

Addison’s disease is not curable. However, it can be managed. Correct management of the disease can consequently result in your dog living a long and happy life.

As a result, your dog will require replacement hormones for the rest of their life. They will also need frequent vet trips to monitor their health.

If your pet becomes ill, make sure the cost of their treatment is covered by pet insurance. Visit to get a quote today.

Argos Limited is an Appointed Representative of Home Retail Group Insurance Services Limited which is authorised and regulated as an insurance intermediary by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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