Thu 12th Feb 2015

Pets Of The Month – Betty, Forbia & Amber

This month we have decided to award the ‘Pet of the month’ status to three very deserving dogs who have been coming in to see us regularly over the last few months – Betty, a Lakeland Terrier who is 10 years old; Forbia, a Scottish Terrier who is also 10 years old and Amber a 12 year old German Shepherd. They all visit us to have regular blood tests as they all have the same problem – Cushings Disease.

Cushings Disease is caused by an excess of the steroid hormone Cortisol. This is normally due to a tumour in the pituitary glands but occasionally can be due to a tumour of the adrenal gland. The pituitary gland is at the base of the brain and produces ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone). This hormone stimulates the adrenal glands (located near the kidneys) to produce Cortisol. Cortisol helps the body respond to stress and impacts a wide variety of bodily functions including blood sugar levels, fat metabolism kidney function and immune response.

The most common signs we see with Cushings is increased thirst, often an increased appetite and weight gain. Sometimes this disease causes changes to the skin and hair coat, thinning of the skin and patchy hair loss. Sometimes animals develop a ‘pot-bellied’ appearance. Cushings can be very difficult to confirm so a series of blood tests are needed. The first sample we take is used as a baseline and then the dog is given an intravenous injection of ACTH (the hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland to produce Cortisol). After an hour we take another blood sample and then they are sent to an external laboratory to measure the blood cortisol levels.

Cushings is treated using a tablet which inhibits the adrenal glands ability to produce Cortisol.

Betty, Forbia and Amber all have regular ACTH blood tests to help keep them stabilised and to manage their medication. Betty and Forbia always seem to like coming to see us and although Amber was initially wary we have won her round and she will now let us have a cuddle with her!

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