What Is Addison’s Disease In Dogs | What Does It Mean For Finn

When you first decide to get a dog from a breeder, you know going in that you are going to have to pay a hefty price for that dog.  I have told the story about getting my dog Finn who is a Labradoodle 10 years ago from a breeder in Alberta.

It was one of the best days of my life, what I didn’t tell you was, that when Finn was 8 mos old he got very sick and almost died.

Luckily we live in a city that has one of the best Vet Colleges in Canada.  We rushed him to the hospital and 5 days later got a diagnosis of Addison’s Disease.  I had heard of Addison’s before in humans, so the next question out of my mouth was what is Addison’s Disease in dogs?  Our biggest concern was, what does it mean for our boy Finn.

What happened

We went away for 5 days on a quick vacation and left our 2 boys (Finn & Boo) with this lovely lady, that cares for dogs and lets them stay in her house with her.  She came highly recommended to us.

After we got back from our trip, Finn at first seemed fine, but within 2 days he clearly wasn’t.  His head was shaking he was lethargic, wouldn’t eat or drink and appeared to be very sick. It was really scary.

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We rushed him to the U of S Animal Hospital and waited. They came back to us and had all these startling test results. His temperature was super high, his red and blood cell count was extremely low.  The Vet started saying that they thought maybe he had leukemia and that he was very sick boy. He of course had to stay in the hospital.

We came the next day to visit him and it was just heartbreaking. This little baby of ours looked so sick.

They told us that at midnight the night before, they had to put him in an ice bath to bring his very high fever down or he would have died.

At this point they are still thinking that he has cancer. They took bone marrow from his hip so they could test him for Leukemia. Once that test was done we got the results back, that it was negative for cancer.  I guess that was a bit of a relief for us, but the worry was they still really had no idea what was wrong with him.

The really tough thing is we have this fabulous puppy that is 8 mos old and every test that they do was just cha ching.  For a brief moment, you wonder how much money can we spend, but the reality is, it really didn’t matter how much it cost.  We were not going to give up trying to find out what was really wrong with him.

Every time they wanted to run another test, they first needed to ensure that we approve the cost of the tests. Of course our answer was always yes, keep looking for answers.

There was no way that our beautiful 8 mos old chocolate Labradoodle was going to die just because of money.

4 days in and they finally figured out that FINN was in an Addisonian crisis.  Phew an answer.  But what is that?

Addisonian Crisis

Now that we had a diagnosis, we needed to know what that even meant.  A dog that has Addison’s, generally this disease isn’t discovered until they have an Addisonian crisis event.

This event is a life-threatening condition, that is caused by an insufficient amount of adrenal hormones.  What that really means is that the adrenal glands stop working properly and they aren’t producing enough cortisol in his body.  These hormones are responsible for helping control salt, water and the sugar balance in their body.

Stress causes the body to produce more cortisol to help deal with this stress. Unfortunately a dog that has Addison’s, their body doesn’t produce enough cortisol to counteract that stress level. This can cause many symptoms like dehydration, depression, weakness, and a slow irregular heartbeat.

When dogs get this sick, it can be common for blood tests to show changes in their white blood cell count (WBC), this is caused by the cortisol. This change is called stress leukogram. The change in WBC can be an indication or clue that it is Addison’s.


What happened to FINN

Once they told us that Finn did in fact have Addison’s, they started a treatment regiment.  He was given steroids and antibiotics over a period of a few days.  Each day he steadily started to improve.

The poor guy had shaved spots on his hind body from where they took the bone marrow, and shaved legs from the multiple IV’s.  The great thing was as least, we were able to visit him every day in the hospital in the visitors lounge. They would put us in the lounge and then bring him in to see us.

I’ll be honest, we pretty much just hugged and kissed him to death.  He looked so small and frail. All he really wanted was for me to rub his head and cuddle him.

Each day we went to see him, he started looking better and better.  Finally, the day came and they said he was good enough to go home. He was released from the hospital and we were able to finally take him home.

His brother Boo was so happy to see him home.

Finn Addison's

Living with Addison’s

Once Finn came home, it was a slow and steady road back to being a healthy happy dog again.  We were just so happy that he bounced back without any long term effects, from his crisis.  He has been able to live a relatively normal dog life.

We wanted to know what had caused Finn to get so sick, so fast.  After doing some of our own research, we realized that leaving the boys for 5 days with a dog sitter, had stressed Finn out so much, that it was the cause of his Addisonian crisis.

You never want to find out that something you have done caused your dog to get so sick.  Unfortunately, you cannot predict or even imagine, that your 8 mos old puppy, could have a disease like this.  Even though leaving him caused the crisis, there was just no way we could have known that this would happen.

For this reason, I thought it was important to tell Finn’s story.

Finn was at least lucky enough, not to have to go on life long medication for his Addison’s, which is not the norm for dogs with Addison’s.  Most dogs that have a life-threatening crisis, end up having to take an injectable mineralocorticoid (usually DOCP) for the rest of their lives.

The Dr’s still don’t understand, how Finn once released from the hospital, showed no signs of Addison’s and why he didn’t need to stay on life long medication.  We just look at it as a gift, that is completely unexplainable.

Knowing that stress was the main cause of why Finn got so sick, to this day we have never left him alone at any type of kennel situation. We always use an in home dog sitter if we need to go somewhere that we can’t take the dogs.  Keeping him in his own home and in the same routine really does work for him.

Even though we were able to limit him from getting stressed, we have had 2 other small bouts of Addisonian like symptoms. Nothing that was even close to the life-threatening situation that he had when he was a puppy.  These little bouts, were managed quickly with a pill form of steroids like Prednisone.

After years of trying to understand Addison’s I also did find that some dog breeds have a predisposition for Addison’s Disease.

Many of these dog breeds are very popular breeds like: Standard Poodles, West highland Terriers, Great Danes, Bearded Collies, Portuguese Water Dogs, and soft coated Wheaten Terriers, just to name a few.

Of course Finn is the mix of a Standard Poodle and a Labrador, so his predisposition comes from the Standard Poodle side.


Finn’s journey

Finn is now 10 years old and in the past year, unfortunately has had to go on permanent medication, to control the onset of his Addisonian bouts.  His symptoms came on and we were able to treat him quickly, before it led to a crisis.

These symptoms that started over a year ago, made it impossible for him to keep his food down and he started to lose weight. The cause of this type of Addison’s issue leads him to have inflammation inside his body and the only way to control that is to put him on a pill form of Prednisone (2 x 5 mg), that he gets pills every second day.

Chewy CTA
It took some time to find out what the proper dosage was and how often he needed it. Once we got that all settled, he has now gained most of that weight back and for the most part is completely normal dog.

For him, there is only a few side effects of the medication that we have noticed and they are excessive thirst and hunger. These are not life changing side effects, we just make sure that he gets all the water he needs and is kept away from any stressful situation.

To this day, Finn is the most cuddly, and loving dog a person could ask for. I truly believe that he is the type of dog that feels things so deeply, that over his lifetime, has warranted his nickname of “A Delicate Flower.”  That is our boy, the million dollar doodle, who just wants to be cuddled.

I hope this post helps answer that tough question of What is Addison’s Disease in Dogs and hopefully I have given you some very important information, that will allow you to have a better understanding of what this disease in our dogs really is.




12 thoughts on “What Is Addison’s Disease In Dogs | What Does It Mean For Finn”

  1. I never knew that a dog’s stress from being away with the owner could lead into something fatal like Addison’s Disease. I was even fascinated that there are a lot of dog and feline temp homes especially in Korea and honestly, I find it cute — before I read this very informative article. How were you able to find out about the proper dosage of Prednisone you’ve given to Finn? Thanks for not giving up.  It’s a great that you were able to take him back home and discovered through numerous research how to properly address his health issues. This is a big help for dog lovers like me.

    • Hi MissusB,

      Thank you for your comments on my post.  Your reaction to how stress can affect dogs, is the main reason that I shared Finn’s story.  I also did not know how much stress can really cause your dog to become very sick, until we went through it.

      I hope to shed some light on this for other dog owners and to prove that their is a light at the end of the tunnel of happiness.

      To get Finn on the right dosage, unfortunately we had to start with a small dosage advised by our Vet, and then had to wait to see if his vomitting and other issues went away.  Of course they didn’t, and we had to up the dosage.  We did this process until we got the right dosage and his symptoms stopped.  It did take weeks to get to that point, so it was very difficult.  Sadly this is the only way to ensure you give him the right amount. 

      They start low with a low amount hoping it will be enough, and then go from there.  I hope this answers your question.

      I really appreciate your feedback, so thank you again.


  2. That’s a very informative post. I was not aware of Addison disease of dogs, your post gave me a better understanding of this. I’m glad to know the story of your own dog. 

    I liked the way of your story telling. You have a good ability to keep your reader stick to your post, as their tone is interesting to read. This post will surely spread awareness about this disease. 

    Thanks a lot for sharing this useful post. 

    • Hi Akshay,

      I really appreciate your wonderful comments on my post.  I am glad that you enjoyed my post about Finn and his long journey.  The whole story, was really a tough thing to go through.  My hope is that by sharing his story, someone else will find some hope and knowledge of how quickly your dog can get sick.

      Writing from the heart, is the easiest thing for me, because it feels like it was just yesterday that it all happened.

      Thank you again.


  3. Wow, I had no clue that this existed in dogs.
    It makes you wonder how a disease in humans can be found in animals.
    This is informative.
    I have a Dachie (Weiner dog) purebred. He’s awesome.
    He takes care of me, and he’s a natural caring & cuddling little guy. I’m thankful that he is a healthy boy. It would be heartbreaking, to say the least, if he ever got sick.

    It’s great to know that your boy Finn lived through it. You have an awesome vet.

    • Hi Kalaya,
      Thank you for sharing your story about your Weiner dog. It is always great to hear other people’s story about their pets and the journey we go through as pet owners. Dogs it seems really do take care of us in lots of ways, I totally agree with you on that. Glad that you have him in your life.
      I am always surprised with the number of human diseases, that dog’s can actually get. I have 2 dogs and sadly they both have a difficult disease. Boo has Cushings Disease, which is basically the opposite of Addison’s, so unlucky us. Even through all of these difficult issues, are boys are living a long and happy life, so we are thankful for that.
      We are so lucky to have the Vet college here, if we didn’t, the costs of these disease’s would be so much more than we had to pay as it is a teaching hospital.
      Thank you again for sharing.

  4. Oh boy what a terrible experience!  I can sympathize, whilst I’m not a dog person, I’m a cat person and have had my beautiful bengal sick with cat flu.  It is a miserable feeling of helplessness.

    This article actually makes dog owners aware of Addison’s. I had heard of it in humans but not dogs and having it brought to our attention is an excellent idea.  Those with dogs can keep this information at the back of their mind and recognize the symptoms.. maybe save some of your expense for them. Its not a laughing matter footing those bills for your pooches. We were fortunate in having insurance for our bengal but the expense was eye watering.  Glad that Finn is well and fingers crossed he doesn’t have another crisis. 

    • Hi Quinn,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Whether it’s cats or dogs, we love them like family and when they get sick, it is heartbreaking, as well as financially draining. I am glad that you had insurance to help with the financial burden.

      A bengal cat, wow they are beautiful cats.

      Finn all in all has been pretty healthy considering he has Addison’s Disease, so thank you for your warm wishes.

      Best of luck with your kitty.


  5. Great post, though I’m very sorry to hear about Finn’s struggles with Addison’s Disease. Dogs truly are best friends, so something like this can be heartbreaking.

    This sounds like it was a very tough road for Finn. Honestly I did not know that Addison’s Disease occurred in dogs as well so this post is very helpful to bring awareness should this situation ever occur. I appreciate your thorough description of the disease, and the treatment that ensued.

    Finn is a very cute dog and I’m glad to hear that he was able to return home to his brother Boo! You are a very caring person for supporting Finn throughout this long journey, well done 🙂

    • Hello Pentrental,

      I really appreciate your kind wishes and comments about Finn with his journey.  It is so cute to see him and Boo together, so I am so glad that they have been able to grow up together as brothers.

      Many people don’t realize that dogs can have many of the same diseases as humans. My hope with writing this post is too definitely bring awareness to people that have dogs in hopes they can catch the warning signs and hopefully stop a crisis before it got as bad as Finn’s did.

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Take care.


  6. Wow! Finn really went through a lot as well as his family. Overall you are all blessed. We have a one-year-old chocolate lab. I have never had any major diseases in our dogs we had owned in the past, but we have have had a fatal disease in our baby horse that we had to have put down from the vet this year in February. She was just over a year and she had an incurable crippling muscle disease. So I can totally relate to what you went through to save Finn no matter the money. I am so happy you were able to control his Addison’s disease.

    Thank You for sharing Finn’s story. All the best to Finn and his family.


    • Hi Michelle,

      I am so sorry to hear about your baby horse, got that is so heartbreaking. Whether it’s a horse or a dog, we put our hearts into them and it can be very devastating when the worst happens.  Sending my warmest condolensces.

      Our boy Finn certainly has been a trooper through it all, he is the sweetest boy you could ask for, so it has been worth every minute of it.

      I admit I am a tad jealous of your chocolate lab. They are such beautiful dogs, and so sweet.

      Thank you for sharing your story with me. Best of luck with your pup. I hope you get lots of dog hugs.



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