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  • Northern Illawarra Veterinary Hospital

Is Your Dog Unwell or Just Getting Old?

Updated: May 20, 2020

We have had quite a few dogs in of late showing a set of symptoms that are at once vague but also distinctive. Most of us might recognise our dogs slowing down as they get older and presume this is just the normal aging process. We may notice they get a bit slower to get up in the morning, not as energetic on a walk, putting on some weight, feeling the heat and not having that spark of energy they use to have.

The question is is this just to be expected or is there something wrong?

This came up in conversation recently when I was asked to look at Toby, a lovable little Maltese cross Shih Tzu dog. Toby is 14 years old but has until recently been a sprightly and healthy dog. His owner was concerned that he had become quite lethargic, putting on weight, panting a lot but also very hungry and thirsty. He had started to wet inside overnight and his coat had become thin and dull.

While Toby is quite old by dog standards and none of these symptoms by themselves are remarkable, it was enough for us to be suspicious that there may have been a medical problem.

We performed a couple of blood tests and an abdominal ultrasound which revealed he is suffering from hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease. It turns out that Toby is a text bookcase of this disease where the adrenal glands produce too much cortisone.

The good news is that it can be managed and most dogs will get back to being their normal sprightly selves. I have had many owners come back to me saying that their dog has a new lease on life and it is like they have dropped several years in age after treatment. Not only does it improve their quality of life but their life expectancy. If untreated, they are prone to a lot of complications such as infections, pancreatitis, diabetes, liver disease and high blood pressure that can cause a premature demise.

Toby is about to start daily medication. We will keep you updated with his progress in the next edition. If you are unsure of your older dog’s health please give us a call for a chat.

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