The name kind of makes the pit of my stomach turn and my heart lurch.  This is a disease mainly of older dogs where they get tumors either on the adrenal glands or on the pituitary.  The result is an extreme over production of cortisol which can cause all kinds of havoc in a dog.  Chanel may have it.  Chanel is one of very few dogs that I have had since an 8 week old puppy.  She was a wheezer and there wasn’t much hope for her life.  I took her thinking that at least I could give her a good year of life rather than her being put down at a young age.  Well…Chanel turned 13 years old on June 4th and ran great all last winter.

But this spring she started drinking huge quantities of water and being pretty lethargic.  I took her in for blood work and her liver enzymes are elevated plus her white count is low.  Both signs, along with the increased thirst, of Cushings.  I didn’t do anything for a couple of weeks as I researched the disease.  Some people opt not to treat at all.  The prognosis is about the same….a life expentancy of 2 more years.  But without treatment, a cushings dog pants a lot, drinks tons of water, can become incontinent (luckily Chanel can hold it for a long time and rarely goes in the house) and gets a large layer of fat that develops around their abdomen resulting in a very big pot belly.  Their joints start to disintegrate, their muscles mass disappears and infections are common.  But they can live 2 years like this as the disease progresses.  Or you can treat….there are many different drugs and some of them have bad side effects.  But, if one can work then it can hold the disease at bay for awhile with a better quality of life.

Chanel went in for the Cushings test yesterday.  After fasting and initial blood draw, they give them a very low dose of dexamethiprine then take blood at 6 hours and 8 hours.  I brought her home after the initial blood draw and Don took her back (I was working that day) at 6 hours and I picked her up an hour later and sat with her until the 8 hour draw.  It was sent out and the cortisol levels will be checked.  We won’t get results back for 2 weeks so I will be reading and thinking about the treatments. 

On one hand, she has had an amazing life.  And to make it to 13 years is great for a wheezer!!  (also her 2 brothers have already died of other things).  But, selfishly, I don’t want to put her down if I can make her more comfortable for awhile and dampen back some of these symptoms.

I’ll update when we get results.