In dogs with Cushing's disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, the adrenal glands produce too much of the stress hormone cortisol. Dogs older than age 7 years are at the highest risk of developing Cushing's disease.
Standard treatments for the disorder include removal of the affected adrenal gland. If both your dog's adrenal glands are removed, she'll needs lifelong treatment with prednisone to replace its cortisol. Other common treatments are medicines that limit cortisol production by destroying adrenal tissue. Instead of taking such measures you might choose alternative medicines either to relieve your dog's symptoms or to complement her conventional treatment.
Choosing the right alternative medicines for your dog's Cushing's disease will depend on her symptoms. Cushing's disease symptoms, according to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, include:
Excessive hunger, thirst, and urination Pot belly Hair loss from the torso Loss of energy Vomiting Diarrhea
Not all dogs with Cushing's disease get all of these symptoms. By consulting with a holistic veterinarian, you can develop a regimen of alternative medicines to treat the ones affecting your pet. Find a holistic vet in your area by searching the directory at the American Holistic Veterinary Association's website.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the premise of "like cures like." Its practitioners believe that you can cure a symptom with an extremely diluted form of a substance that would cause the same symptom in your dog if he took it full strength. You can find homeopathic remedies at most health food stores.
The Complete Holistic Dog Book names four homeopathic treatments to help your dog with specific Cushing's symptoms:
- Arsenicum will relieve your dog's thirst skin problems, fatigue, distended abdomen and enlarged liver.
- Mercurius treats your dog's hunger and thirst skin problems, muscular weakness and enlarged liver.
- Hepar is good for your dog's skin infections, painful abdomen and enlarged liver.
- Sulphur helps with skin problems, thirst, urination and weakness.
The best herbal treatments for your dog are ones that will support no only her adrenal glands but also her liver and kidneys, all of which can be affected by her illness. Veterinary Herbal Medicine recommends the following herbal formula as an alternative Cushing's disease treatment:
Five equal parts of Gingko, milk thistle, rehmannia, dandelion and astralagus. Gingko, milk thistle and astralagus provide immune system support. Gingko may also suppress your dog's cortisol production. Dandelion and astralagus lower blood pressure, and dandelion and milk thistle improve liver function. Rehmannia will protect your dog's kidneys.
Holistic vet Dr. Shawn Messonnier, DVM, suggests giving your dog both B vitamins and choline to lower his cortisol levels.
Cushing's disease is a serious condition. Before you decide to adopt alternative medicines to treat your dog, consult with a holistic veterinarian who is familiar with both conventional and alternative Cushing's disease remedies. The vet will be able to recommend the best course of action for your dog. It may include both kinds of treatments.