Both dogs and humans are susceptible to Cushing’s disease. Middle-aged and older dogs are more likely to develop the disease. Natural Alternatives for Cushing's Disease in Dogs. CBD oil for dogs with Cushing's Disease can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s disease
In dogs, hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s Disease occurs due to an overabundance of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol comes from the adrenal glands, which are found above the kidneys in mammals.
Both dogs and humans are susceptible to Cushing’s disease. Middle-aged and older dogs are more likely to develop the disease, with risk categories beginning around the age of six.
According to Washington State University, an estimated 100,000 dogs are diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in the United States every year.
Cortisol: An explainer
The mainstream understanding of cortisol is related to the concept of stress—which is partly true. In a healthy body, cortisol is released when waking up, exercising, or going through some form of exertion. It also plays a role in signaling the fight or flight response.
But the true role of cortisol in the body is much wider. According to the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, cortisol can be thought of as a natural steroid, not only helping the body adapt to stress but also regulating body weight, tissues, skin health, and a host of other features of related to proper functioning, such as the metabolism and blood pressure.
Too much cortisol in the body and the immune system is likely to become stressed, which in turn makes animals and humans more susceptible to outside infections. When the adrenal glands consistently overproduce cortisol, the body can also begin to experience other forms of disruption, which will continue to worsen until cortisol levels are reduced.
What does Cushing’s disease look like in dogs?
Most of the time, Cushing’s has a slow onset, meaning that owners may not know exactly when symptoms begin to emerge in their dog. According to VCA Hospitals, by the time that symptoms are noticeable, they usually include:
Thirst to the point of franticness
Increased urination (often as a result of overhydration)
Large increases or decreases in appetite (stress eating)
Lethargy, listlessness, and reduced activity
Panting without a clear reason
Thinner skin, noticeable upon picking a dog up
Hair loss, primarily on the body rather than legs
An enlarged abdomen that results in a ‘potbelly’ appearance
How is it treated by veterinarians?
Treatment for Cushing’s will depend partly on the source behind your dog’s increased cortisol levels.
Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease results from disruption to the pituitary gland at the base of the brain—often due to a tumor, trauma, or separate disease. When disrupted, the pituitary gland can overproduce something called the adrenocorticotropic hormone, which in turn signals the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. The FDA estimates that up to 85 percent of dogs with Cushing’s have this sort of pituitary-dependent form.
Adrenal-dependent Cushing’s disease results from disruption to the adrenal glands themselves—again, usually due to a tumor. This causes the glands to become confused and overproduce cortisol, which builds in the bloodstream.
Completely curing Cushing’s disease requires removing the tumor or other disruption to the affected gland before the tumor spreads. In adrenal-dependent cases, this may be possible through surgery, however, surgical techniques for the pituitary-dependent disease are not viable options for dogs in the majority of situations.
Most of the time, dogs with Cushing’s will be treated via a lifelong management plan, consisting of courses of medication that are designed to inhibit cortisol production, as well as frequent checkups from their veterinarian. Handled correctly, this treatment can ensure a relatively high quality of life for dogs living with the disease.
Where does CBD come into the picture?
There’s some indication that CBD may directly affect the size and growth of tumors, which could be good news for dogs with Cushing’s as a result of cancerous growths. However, the real value of CBD products for dogs overproducing cortisol is threefold:
CBD oil may be able to counteract the side effects of drugs commonly prescribed to dogs for Cushing’s. These include reduced appetite, vomiting, and lack of energy.
Second, CBD oil may be able to counteract the effects of increased cortisol levels. Working through the endocannabinoid system, CBD is able to affect receptors in the brain, nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract, reducing inflammation and irritation.
And finally, some research suggests that CBD oil may be able to help reduce hormonal imbalances and lower cortisol levels in the body. Cannabinoid receptors, which are affected by CBD, are expressed throughout the body, including the pituitary gland, and are able to influence the stress response.
And does it work?
The only true way to find out if CBD will have a beneficial effect on your dog is to try it out—starting with small daily dosages and moving from there. For some dogs, CBD may not prove effective, but the chances of your pup having a negative reaction are small to non-existent.
Until clinical evidence catches up with mainstream use, we won’t know for sure whether CBD is a viable treatment for Cushing’s disease in dogs. But, given substantial proof of CBD’s ability to work on cortisol levels through the endocrine and endocannabinoid systems, there’s definitely a good reason to be optimistic.
Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone related to the management of stress inside the body.
Cushing’s disease occurs when cortisol levels increase, due to the presence of a tumor or other disruption to the adrenal or pituitary glands.
CBD is unlikely to cure Cushing’s disease, but it should help with many of the resulting symptoms, as well as reducing levels of cortisol and overall hormone imbalances in a dog’s body.
While CBD is a good option for pet owners looking to supplement their dog’s treatment plan, it shouldn’t replace any existing treatment without extensive prior consultation with a veterinarian.
CBD for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s Disease in Dogs: Are there natural alternatives? If your pet has been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, or if you think that your pet may have Cushing’s, you’re in the right place.
When something is going on with your pet, it can be overwhelming to figure out the issue and get a diagnosis. It can be even more confusing to know what course of action to take and how to keep your pet feeling their best. We’re here to help.
Table of Contents
What is Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?
Cushing’s Disease is an endocrine disorder, also known as hypercortisolism or hyperadrenocorticism. It causes your dog’s body to excessive amounts of the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that helps control stress, weight, infections, and blood sugar. Too much cortisol, or too little, can wreak havoc on your pet’s overall wellbeing.
Cushing’s Disease in dogs usually occurs in middle-aged or older dogs. There are three types of Cushing’s Disease in dogs:
- Pituitary Dependent Cushing’s – Caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, and is the most common type, occurring in 80-90% of animals with Cushing’s Disease.
- Adrenal Dependent Cushing’s – Caused by a tumor on the adrenal glands, and is the second most common, occurring in about 15% of animals with Cushing’s.
- Iatrogenic Cushing’s Syndrome – Caused by over-prescription of steroids, and is the least common type of Cushing’s.
What are the Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?
Many of the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in dogs mimic the signs of aging, making them harder to identify. Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in dogs include:
- Being thirstier than usual
- Excessive hunger
- Excessive urination and more indoor accidents
- Thinning skin
- Excessive panting
- Hair loss or hair growing more slowly
- Gaining a pot belly
- Seeming more tired or inactive
- Getting skin infections or skin growths often
Is Cushing’s Disease in Dogs Common?
Cushing’s Disease in dogs is fairly common, particularly in older dogs.
Cushing’s is more common in certain breeds of dog . Dog breeds prone to Cushing’s Disease include: Beagles, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, and Terriers in general.
Diagnosing Cushing’s Disease in dogs can be a struggle and dogs are often misdiagnosed. If you suspect your dog has Cushing’s Disease, your veterinarian can do a blood test, an ACTH Stimulation Test, or a Cortisol-Creatinine Ratio Test. These tests will look for cortisol levels in the blood and urine, and are often used in conjunction with an ultrasound to make the final diagnosis.
CBD for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease
The traditional treatment for Cushing’s Disease in dogs are certain hormone-regulating medications such as trilostane or mitotane. In certain rare cases, veterinarians may elect to go the route of surgery, which can be invasive and dangerous, especially in older dogs.
Instead, natural alternatives, like CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease, may offer a viable alternative to the stress of surgery or liver-damaging medications.
Based on the available research and the experience of numerous case studies, Full spectrum CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease may help in a number of key ways. First, by modulating the hormonal imbalance, as well as by shrinking, or even eliminating the tumors causing the issue.
Primary potential benefits of using CBD for dogs with Cushing’s Disease:
- Targeting the tumors: Cancer cells do not die on their own; continuously spreading unless we do something to stop them. CBD was found to trigger apoptosis (natural cell death) in cancer cells. CBD also reduces the growth of tumors by preventing the formation of blood vessels that feed the tumor. For more info on the anti-cancerous properties of cannabis medicine, check out this blog post.
- Repairing hormonal imbalances: CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system to bring the body back to balance. This includes hormonal imbalances like that of cortisol produced by the adrenal and pituitary glands.
- Relieving the symptoms: As CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to bring the body back to a balanced state, symptoms will naturally improve.
Dosing CBD Oil for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease
The most effective way to administer a full spectrum CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease is with an oral tincture. Look for Full-spectrum hemp extract with a broad range of cannabinoids, including CBD. We recommend our HEAL: CBD Oil for dogs , which is an 1100mg Full Spectrum Hemp Extract.
Despite common misconceptions, dosing has very little to do with your pet’s size or weight. Finding the right dosage depends on your pet’s age and metabolism, their specific ailment, and other individual health factors.
Based on research and our experience, we recommend starting with 35-50 mg daily of CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease. Within that range we recommend you start low and adjust based on your pet’s response to determine your optimal dose. You may also find that your pet needs less as they recover over time.
For the fastest and best absorption, lift the lip and apply the dosage directly onto the gums. This is the most direct way into the bloodstream. You can also add it to food, but it can take significantly longer (30-45 minutes) to reach the bloodstream, as it works its way through the gastrointestinal system.
If Cushing’s Disease in your dog has also caused skin growths, you can also apply a Full Spectrum Hemp topical CBD salve directly to the growth. Because dogs have endocannabinoid receptors throughout the layers of their skin, topical CBD salves are extremely effective. We recommend REMEDY, our 300mg Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD Salve, to be applied twice a day until the growth is gone.
Research to support the use of CBD for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease
There are several relevant studies on the possible benefits of CBD for dogs with Cushing’s Disease. CBD has been shown to have beneficial effects in studies involving animals affected by tumors, pain, hormones, inflammation, and more.
In a research study conducted by the A.B. Hancock Jr. Memorial Laboratory for Cancer Research, Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, Vanderbilt Ingram Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. In the study, researchers concluded that the effects of CBD are promising in the treatment of cancer and tumors.
Another recent study found that CBD inhibited the growth of cancerous cells in mice, as well as preventing future tumors. The conclusion of this study noted that CBD could be a viable option to treat tumors in both humans and animals.
Yet another research study conducted by the Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, at Southern Illinois University. There researchers found that CBD could have profound effects on the release of hormones, including cortisol.
Case Study: CBD for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease
Meet Potato! Potato is a 15-year-old Shih Tzu who came to Fire Flake Farm with many medical issues, including Cushing’s Disease. Potato’s owner was overwhelmed and unsure of how to best help Potato.
Potato was having mobility issues, joint pain, and more. When we groomed her, we found wart-like growths all over her body. Because of the success we’ve seen with CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease, we decided to try our HEAL CBD oil for dogs, as well as our Remedy CBD salve for dogs. We gave her a full-dose of HEAL – CBD Oil in the morning and evening. We also applied our R EMEDY salve on her growths each day. Now, she is doing well, running around, upbeat, and acting younger than ever.