My Dog Has Cushings Disease | Making The Best Of It

When I found out my dog has Cushing Disease, I was devastated.  Here is my story.

We all know when there is something drastically wrong with our pets.  They may not be able to speak to us, but they sure do let us know in other ways.

For us the symptoms came on pretty quick and our concern level started to rise.  We all hopped into the car to drive to the emergency animal hospital, hoping to find out what is going on.

Once we are all checked in, the vet took a thorough history and took some blood, so he could run some tests.

Hours later, the vet came back to tell me that my dog has Cushings disease.  This was just a difficult thing to hear. Nobody wants to hear that their dog has any type of disease.

baby BOO
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Now that we had the diagnosis, the next question was, what does that mean.  Obviously I had heard of Cushings before, because my friend’s dog had it and died not long after the diagnosis.  That, of course, stuck in my mind and made me very concerned.

The vet explain that Cushings it is an excess of cortisol being produced in the body called “hyperadrenocorticism” and it is the most common endocrine disorder that affects dogs.

The main cause of this hyperadrenocorticism is a beign tumor on the pituitary gland. 85% of Cushings cases are caused by this type of tumor.

The other tumor, can be a tumor that is on the adrenal gland, but this only makes up 15-20% of all Cushings cases.

One of the tests they can run is a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST) which is the most common test in diagnosing Cushings Disease.

Unfortunately, there is not one definitive test that tells us the dog definitely has Cushings.  They rely on ultrasounds and blood tests to try there best to determine if the dog does in fact have Cushings based on there symptoms.

To treat or not to treat

BOO’s results came back fairly definitive that he has Cushings. The next big decision was whether we were going to treat this disease or not.

BOO was already pushing 14 and we really weren’t sure what we were going to do.  I thing part of the difficult decision was his age of course, and as we all know the cost of treating any disease does cross your mind.

But in the end, money was not the determining factor for us.  His age was really the bigger issue.  We weren’t going to put him through the difficult treatment plan with all the side-effects.

At the time when we took him in to the vet, his symptoms were :gorging of his food, hungry all the time, his hair was to the point where you could see his skin.

His skin was pretty much see through.  Not being able to hold his pee nearly as long as he used to, was also one of his symptoms.

Oddly the biggest symptom for him was and is the constant whining to eat all the time.  Almost to the point where we started to think “Oh my god we are starving him.”

After a long discussion with the vet, we talked about what the actual treatment would be if we decided to treat the Cushings.  We really weren’t sure  if we wanted to go that route.  First we needed all the information to make an informed decision for him and for us.

The vet said the typical treatment was a drug called Trilostane.  This drug has serious side effects.  He started listing off all off the side effects Boo could encounter.  Some things on the list were : Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of energy, weakness etc.  The list went on and on.

For us the decision was easy, his symptoms were not terrible, they were things we could manage for now.  Due to Boo’s age, we decided not to treat his Cushings.  The vet said it was up to us and there was really no right or wrong answer at this point.

He then let us take Boo home.

Living with Cushings

Now that we had decided not to treat the Cushings, we really were unsure what was a head for us.  The vet said that dogs can survive for a while with this disease, or the opposite and go quickly, each dog is different.

shaggy boo

The one thing he did tell us, was that most dogs don’t die from Cushings itself, they die from all the complications associated with having this disease.  Some of these issues can be:

  • skin infections
  • pancreatitis
  • seizures
  • diabetes
  • pot-belly appearance
  • thinning of there hair etc.

So far, Boo has a few of these symptoms.  He has pancreatitis, thinning hair and he did have a skin infection earlier that we hadn’t attributed to this diagnosis til much later.

Most of these symptoms do not affect his everyday life, except of course the hunger and having to pee more often.

Honestly the hunger symptom is the worst.  I know what you’re thinking, that doesn’t sound that bad…Envision 4:30am wake up with a little dog walking all over your legs GET UP ! GET UP MOM I’m starving.

Throughout the day, if one of us is at home, Boo knows to the exact minute when it’s his feeding time.  If you are busy for even a few minutes, he will literally sit and whine until you feed him.  He is relentless!

The tough part is you feel so bad for him, and you feel like your are a horrible parent, but then you realize it is just the disease.

Unfortunately, one of the other symptoms that is extremely difficult to have to go through is seizures.  BOO has had 2 seizures in the past year.  According to the vet if they start to happen closer together, that is when we need to worry. Seizures that happen close together can have a serious risk of causing neurological damage to your dog.

After having a discussion about what our plan would be if anything like that was to start to happening more frequently, we would not let BOO suffer through that.

Luckily for us, to this point we haven’t had to make that decision yet.


Hope and defying the odds

Our boy BOO was diagnosed with having Cushings Disease more than 2 1/2 years ago.

While doing my own research, I have found that the longest life expectancy of a dog after being diagnosed with Cushings Disease, is somewhere around 30-36 months.

For us, our boy is defying the odds to live as long as possible.  He is already at the point, where he is reaching that unexpected milestone.  Getting to the 30-month mark has been exciting.

We still get to wake up to see his happy face every day and cuddle him as much as we can.

Through the months, we have seen a physical change in the little guy.  He is very small and bony, almost looking puppy like.  He has also started to have a bit of the pot-bellied appearance that they had spoke about.

Cushings CTA

Enjoying every moment

Since the first moments of the vet telling me my dog has Cushings Disease, to this point now, it has certainly been a journey.

At times Cushings can be a very tough battle to go through.  What we have kept in mind while going through this battle, is that no matter how long we have our BOO for, we are going to enjoy every moment with him.

We never know how long BOO’s battle with this disease will be, but we have been lucky to have him a lot longer than most.

BOO is coming up on 16 years old this year and Cushings or no Cushings, he has remained our baby.  No matter when we have to finally say goodbye to him, we know that we given him his best life.

Boo recent

Love you BOO! ♥♥

(UPDATE april 28, 2020)
It has taken me awhile to come back and update this post.  We sadly lost our boy BOO 6 mos ago and it was a devastating loss for our family.  BOO was a trooper to the end, and unfortunately the Cushings Disease had compromised his immune system and he ended up getting Lymphoma.  He battled as long as he could, but in the end he crossed over the rainbow.  We miss him everyday.


25 thoughts on “My Dog Has Cushings Disease | Making The Best Of It”

  1. Hey Coralie,

    I’m sorry to hear that Boo is going through this, but happy to hear that he is defying the odds.

    I found your review very informative and helpful. & I think your topic needs to be heard.

    I completely agree on your point about pets communicating that something is wrong. I lost a pitbull to cancer as a child.

    You can tell that something wasn’t right with him before we even thought to get things checked out. It can really tear you apart because of how connected you get to them.

    Thanks for sharing your optimistic story & spreading the knowledge. I’m happy your enjoying every moment on this journey with Boo. btw he’s adorable!


    • Thank you Giaus for your wonderful review of my post.

      As good pet owners, us listening to our pets, is the most important thing we can do.

      I am really glad that you seemed to really get the heartbreak of the story, but also all the joy that Boo has brought.


  2. Sorry your dog is ill. You know that humans also get Cushing’s. I have Addison’s Disease, which is also an Endocrine problem, which dogs also get. I have a friend who has had 2 dogs with it, but, since she herself has Addison’s they recognized the symptoms and the dogs are treated the same way with Cortisol. Addison’s is the opposite of Addison’s,in that we don’t make Cortisol , so we take Steroids for replacement and I mostly live quite well with it. but, we MUST have that Cortisol to live.There are many other health issues which can pop up with AI or Cushing’s. Sadly, I knew someone who had Cushing’s as well as other health pronblems. She committed suicide at a young age. I hope this will inform others with similar problems.

    • Hi Donna, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I am glad that this post can hopefully shed some light on what it is like when our pets get these type of diseases. Oddly enough my other dog is a Doodle and he has Addisons disease. Diagnosed when he was 8 mos old. Strange to have 2 dogs both with a cortisol issue, just completely opposite. I am glad that you are living your best life and thanks again for sharing. Hang in there. Coralie

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story with Boo, whilst I wish no illness on any living animal, it was a great read to bring awareness of something that many dog owners don’t know about – I have heard of cushings in horses very regularly, but I must admit, I had no idea that cushings could present in dogs also, and I am grateful to have that knowledge now. The more awareness and knowledge we have about dogs and potential health concerns and associated symptoms, the better we can be prepared for when things do go wrong!

    • Hi Josie,

      I have never heard of Cushings Disease in horses, so thank you for sharing that information on this post.

      My goal is absolutely to make dog owners aware of this disease, because unfortunately we don’t know to much about it until it happens to us. Then we are shocked and have no idea what to expect.

      Every dog is different of course, so the symptoms may vary for each dog.

      Thank you for sharing


  4. I love your post.  I’m a dog mom too, to a 16 year old lab-chow mix puppy named Zoey.  She is blind an deaf, but still as lovable as ever.  Thanks for that info about Cushings.  I wonder if Zoey has the same problem, and she eats a lot and thinks that you have food in your hand, and is always trying to grab it.  She’s stolen my cell phone on several occasions.  It’s worth a trip to the vet to see what’s going on.  I never thought that wanting to eat all the time was a symptom of such a condition.  Anyway, thank you for the information.  Enjoy your Boo as long as you can!  

    • Hello Roxydog,

      Love your handle by the way, very cool. Your Zoey is 16, that is amazing. Almost as old as my Boo.

      My hope with this post was exactly what you were saying, it’s about people not realizing that certain things in older dogs, can be symptoms of serious conditions. I didn’t know much about this condition until our Boo was diagnosed. Now I really want to help people aware of the possibilities of Cushings Disease.

      Best of luck with Zoey, love her up everyday.

      Thank you


  5. Hello Coralie,

    Thanks for the post. Dog diseases are naturally difficult. It’s so heartbreaking finding our dog in pains even though they don’t cry more often. The Cushing disease is such a terrible disease that has a life span the dog can live after being diagnosed with the disease. I can imagine watching my dog while the day approaches. It’s a really hard to time and losing a pet could really be a difficult time. Thanks for the information.


    • Hi Pat,

      I am glad that you enjoyed my post. Yes it is an extremely difficult time with our Boo, but he is still happy and playful, so that is all we can ask for at this point.

      Thinking about losing Boo, is very hard to imagine. He has been around for most of my adult life. I guess I will cross that bridge when it comes. For now I am doing my best to just love him up as much as I can.

      Thank your for sharing your comments.


  6. Hi Coralie, tough post to read as I am a dog person and have been in your shoes more than once, but the fact that you are giving boo the best is all you can do, we’re all here for a short period of time, and he was put in your care by forces beyond us, enjoy him and everyone while you can, for the pain, and hunger I used a CBD pet tincture, he looks like a small dog 150-200 mg, twice a day in his food or in a doggy treat, it works wonders, crushing disease is just that, crushing . I hope when my time comes I have someone like you to ease me into the next level stay strong and be thankful for the time together,…T.C

    • Hi Tcheck,

      Thank you so much for sharing your advice with me on my post. Your are now the second person to mention CBD oil, so I am really going to check that option out. I believe like you, that it could help BOO.

      You are so right, about just being able to care for them the best we can. At least now at this time, we have many different options that we can use, that are more herbal than some toxic medicine. I don’t believe that is the only answer either.

      I will love Boo everyday, so thank you again.


  7. Good afternoon Coralie,

    I am very happy to read you are treating Boo so nicely, no nasty medicine or treatments. My dear Cindy, a Rottweiler lady who sadly had to go at the age of 12 and a half year in June 2018 had a tumor in her armpit. I discovered this before Christmas 2015. The vet said I could have her operated but did not give her more than 6 months.

    I decided not to do that and instead tried to make her life as nice and painless as possible. Besides a lot of good supplements, I also gave her CBD drops. This helped till the end, then the vet had to give her injections and then nothing could be done anymore. I still miss her a lot. 

    I hope you will have Boo with you still for some time. You might consider also giving CBD drops.

    Regards Taetske 

    • Hi Taetske,

      I am so sorry to hear about your Cindy. Sounds like you did everything possible to make the last days as good as possible. Sadly at this stage in their lifes, that is all we can do.

      Thank you for sharing your story and your advice about CBD. Just recently, I have been doing some research on this exact option of CBD. It might just be what we are after to give him something to help him through til the end.

      I appreciate your kind words.

      Thank you


  8. My 11 yr old Doxie was diagnosed with this 6 months ago and prognosis was she had 6 months… However, she responded to hormone therapy very well and seemed to be coping. Over the last 2 weeks we have noticed her energy level dropping in a major way. Her breathing is more labored and she appears to be losing her vision. My heart is breaking. Trying to decide if I need to call the vet and bring her up to speed on what is going on.

    • Hi Robin,
      I am so sorry to hear that your Doxie has cushings disease. It can certainly be a tough challenge. My BOO was living proof that with the right care and love, the diagnosis isn’t a death sentence. He lived more than 2 years with it.

      Keeping your Vet in the loop is always a good idea. Sometimes just talking to them for advice and suggestions can help.

      My heart goes out to you and your baby. I wish you the best of luck and if I can say anything it would be to enjoy every day with them and get plenty of doggy cuddles.
      Thank you for sharing your story with me, I am thinking of you.

  9. Hello! I’m so glad I came across your website. My doxie mix, Sasha, who is 11, was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease this week. Her symptoms are manageable at this point, so we have decided not to put her on the medication our vet is recommending (Trilostane) due to the side effects. She is still quite peppy and energetic and we want her to enjoy whatever time she has left. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Hi Terri,

      I am so sorry to hear about Sasha. Getting that diagnosis can sure be tough. Just like with our dog BOO, we also decided not to treat him and for almost 2 years he was pretty good. A few seizures spread 6 mos apart and then he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. We were so happy to get the 2 extra years with him, and cherished every moment.

      I wish you and Sasha the best of luck. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me and I am sending happy thoughts to you.

  10. Hello, my dog has been diagnosed with Cushings disease. Tinkerbelle is turning 14 on May 4. Like your dog she is hungry and her breathing is labored sometimes. She does have to keep frequently but during this Covid -19 at least we are all home.
    We decided to not treat her also because our vet said the meds aren’t good for older dogs. She takes the recommended melatonin and flaxseed lignans from website She also takes milk thistle. So far so good:)

    • Hi Laura,

      I am so sorry to hear about your sweet Tinkerbell.
      I am so glad that she is doing OK right now though, that is great news. All we can do is love them and care for them the best we can.
      Treating our Boo was just even considered and we did pretty good. He lived almost 2 years with it. Unfortunately he got Lymphoma as a result of a weak immune system from the Cushings.
      Hug your Tinkerbell and thank you so much for sharing your story. It is nice to have someone that could read my post and understand my story. Sadly this is a common disease for older smaller dogs.
      I wish you guys the best of love and enjoy every day. Take care

  11. I am so sorry for your loss. I have 2 dogs aged 15 and 13 and my nightmare is losing them. I realise this is going to happen but after losing 3 dogs in the past I still remember the pain. My 13 year old is starting the crying for his food and I know I’m being an ostrich about but I’m terrified of taking him to the vet for a diagnosis.

    • Hi Gail,
      Thank you so much for taking time to read my post and for sharing.

      Yes it was literally the worst day of my life. I know hoe you are feeling about your older dogs. It just comes so quick,

      I know the void is sure tough to heal!
      I wish you and your babies many more wonderful days together. Hugs whenever you can. Thank you

  12. So sorry for the loss of your beloved pet Boo, we have a Bichon , her name is Darcy , she suffers from Cushing disease , we are about 2yrs into the diagnosis. She has the sparse hair , pot belly and increased hunger and thirst ..,she was just also diagnosed w/ heart failure this last February.. we do not treat the Cushing but she is given heart medication, 3 for that and a gallbladder support supplement. . I pray that she goes in her own time and we don’t have to make that decision for her . Every day she is w/ me I’m blessed ..

    • Hi Soozi,
      Thank you so much for sharing Darcy’s story with me. I am so sorry to hear the diagnosis.

      I will be thinking of you and I too hope that you will take every moment your have left and cherish it. Creating memories is something you will always have.
      I miss our Boo everyday. It truly is the hardest thing, and I wish you the best of luck.
      Thank you for commenting.


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