Special Challenges in Keeping Your Older Dog Healthy

October 15, 2009

OVERLAND PARK, Kan., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ — We’re all familiar with the physical changes that can come with human aging – hair loss, change of body shape, etc. But when these changes begin occurring in a dog, it can be a sign of Cushing’s syndrome, a disease that can be difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for other medical conditions that are common in mature dogs.

Cushing’s syndrome is caused by a tumor of either the pituitary gland or adrenal glands. The disease, to make matters more confusing, has symptoms similar to other diseases and can be a challenge to diagnose.

“Unfortunately, diagnosing what’s wrong with a mature dog can take some time,” explains Dr. Vern Otte, a practicing veterinarian in suburban Kansas City. “Oftentimes, if an older dog has an increase in thirst, the owner calls us and automatically assumes it has diabetes. While some of the symptoms may be similar, the dog may instead have Cushing’s syndrome.”

Due to the complexity of accurately diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome, special blood tests are necessary to confirm the disease. By diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome early and using prescribed medication, pet owners can help their dogs live happier and more vibrant lives.

Dr. Audrey Cook, Clinical Associate Professor from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, says dog owners need to be alert for Cushing’s syndrome.

“A dog owner should begin checking the dog when it is around seven years old. Some of the signs that a dog may have Cushing’s syndrome are increased water intake, lethargy, a ravenous appetite, excessive panting, hair loss and thin skin,” states Cook.

Cushing’s syndrome is a disease that may also affect the physical appearance of a dog. Cook says one way a pet owner can help the veterinarian with evidence of the physical changes a dog is going through is by providing photos during an office visit. These photos can help the veterinarian with an early diagnosis.

“If Cushing’s is diagnosed early and treated with an FDA-approved product like VETORYL® (trilostane) Capsules, the dog can have a much happier and longer life.”

“If left untreated, Cushing’s syndrome increases the dog’s risk of developing serious conditions such as diabetes, blood clots in the lungs, kidney infections, urinary tract infections or inflammation of the pancreas,” added Dr. Cook.

Dr. Otte explains that treatment of Cushing’s syndrome can make a difference in how a dog spends its later years. “We now have the capability to dramatically improve the quality of life for the dog. I have seen marked improvement in dogs with the new medication available.”

Pet owner Judy Lafferty saw a remarkable change in her dog, Dutchess, since she has been on the VETORYL treatment. The suburban Kansas City pet owner’s King Charles/Spaniel mix can now navigate the stairs and is able to take several short walks a day.

“Before she was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome and placed on this treatment, we had thought of putting her down,” says Lafferty. “Now, she’s almost like a puppy, with eyes like Bambi.”

It’s important to not overlook the subtle changes in your dog’s appearance. Some early signs of Cushing’s syndrome may be confused with the normal signs of aging. When changes occur, a call to your veterinarian is recommended.

For additional information about Cushing’s syndrome or VETORYL Capsules, please contact Bryan Toliver, U.S. Marketing Manager, Dechra Veterinary Products.

Dechra Veterinary Products, located in Overland Park, Kansas, is the U.S. sales and marketing division of Dechra Pharmaceuticals, PLC, a UK listed company deriving its income from the international animal healthcare markets. Dechra currently markets a range of products in the U.S. For more information, please visit www.dechra-us.com.

SOURCE Dechra Veterinary Products

Source: newswire

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