Treating Cushings disease in dogs and cats

Cushing’s disease, medically known as hyper-adrenocorticism, is a disease that results in overstimulation of the adrenal glands, and the excessive production of natural levels of corticosteroids. This condition used to be quite rare in dogs and cats only 20 years ago, but now veterinarians are commonly diagnosing this condition every week or two. It appears to be another disease that can respond quite favourably to a change to a natural diet. This in turn suggests that the disease itself maybe indirectly caused by improper nutrition long-term.

The condition is most commonly caused by a benign tumour on the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, and less commonly it can be caused by a primary tumour of the adrenal gland itself. The disease is slow in onset, sometimes taking months or even years to show itself completely and be diagnosed. The most common presenting signs are increased thirst and appetite, often with a pot belly, and hair loss. The early signs can often be similar to the onset of diabetes. There are specific medical tests required to diagnose it, but common routine blood tests can often point in this direction with classic changes in certain liver enzymes making it a likely diagnosis.

Medical treatment of the condition is quite complex and expensive and requires lifelong medication, and regular blood testing to ensure adequate control. It is generally a disease of older dogs, and is far more common in smaller breeds for some reason.

Due to financial constraints, many pet owners have contacted me over the years asking for advice in managing the condition. Whilst I always suggest to them that they follow the traditional veterinary therapy, I will also take the opportunity to advise these clients to make important dietary changes at the same time, which I feel are important for any animal suffering a chronic disease. Changing a dog from a processed food to a natural raw food diet is always good medicine as far as I am concerned. I have been surprised over the years that the number of people who have come back to me and told me that changing the diet alone had a profound impact on slowing down or even stopping the disease. This was quite unexpected, but subsequent to this I have recommended this approach to many people, and have repeatedly had extremely positive feedback about the benefits of changing to our Vets All Natural raw food diet for this particular condition. I cannot fully explain how or why the diet change has this exact effect but I’m always happy to suggest this as an option to treatment where finances may exclude more traditional veterinary support.

Here’s one example from a dog with Cushings disease who saw some great results switching to a Vets All Natural diet together with traditional veterinary care:

“I spoke to you about 4 months ago to let you and Dr Syme know how pleased I was with my dog Jordi’s progress on Vets All Natural. I told you he had lost weight, was on less medication and he was just so well. But hows this! He just had his 6 monthly check for cushings to adjust his meds, the Specialist Vet just rang, his cortisol levels are now normal and to stop all medication. In her opinion he (may) need to restart his meds again but, he may never have to take Vetoryl ever again. Dr. Syme needs to tell as many people as he can about his “all natural raw diet” to save people’s pets from a short life to a long and healthy life. Thankyou”


Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons), Founder of Vets All Natural.

Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bruce Syme, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended as medical advice, it simply shares the knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Bruce and his community. Pet health care decisions should be based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
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