Adrenal Disease Might Explain Your Pet’s Strange Behavior

By Species, By Topic, Care & Wellness, Cats, Diagnosis, Dogs, Emergency Situations, Exotic

If your pet is acting weird, it might have an adrenal disease. These conditions are prevalent in small animals, including dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and especially, ferrets. What happens is a gland begins producing either too much, or too little of certain hormones. These conditions can be difficult to diagnose, but if left untreated, are life-threatening.

Ferrets, especially middle-aged ones, are among the most likely to develop an adrenal gland disorder. This is typically happening because an adrenal gland is producing cells at a higher rate than usual (hyperplasia), or has grown a tumor. When this occurs, the gland will produce elevated levels of sex hormones. Signs to look out for include hair loss along the ferret’s back and tail, difficulty urinating, and excessive scratching. If your pet is neutered or spayed, it might start exhibiting sexual behavior, or an enlarged sex organ. The only way to confirm a diagnosis is through blood tests. After, depending on the cause of the disorder, your ferret can be treated either with medicine or surgery. 

Cats and dogs develop adrenal gland disorders, too.

Cushings Disease is when a dog or cat produces an excess of corticosteroids. Common symptoms of Cushing’s disease include: Increased thirst, appetite, and urination; reduced physical activity; excessive panting; hair loss; thin or frail skin; recurrent skin infections; enlargement of the abdomen (pot-bellied). Animals diagnosed with Cushing’s usual receive medication, and are monitored to make sure they don’t experience any side effects. Monitoring means your pet will need frequent blood tests during the initial phase of treatment. This helps your veterinarian find the proper dosage. Afterward, your pet will need regular blood work to make sure the medicine is keeping their condition in check. 

Addison’s Disease is the opposite of Cushing’s and is the underproduction of necessary hormones by the adrenal glands. Symptoms include lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, shaking, increased urination, and increased thirst. Like with Cushing’s, Addison’s disease can be treated with medicine, followed by blood work to monitor how the treatment is working.

If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms, call CEDARCREST Animal Clinic at 540-943-7577 and schedule an appointment. 

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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