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What is Addison's Disease in Dogs? Signs and Treatment

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Whitney has extensive domestic animal husbandry experience and has cared for various species.

Lethargy is one of the symptoms of Addison's disease.

Lethargy is one of the symptoms of Addison's disease.

What is Addison's Disease?

Addison's disease is the common name for adrenal insufficiency, which is a disease that has similar symptoms as other health issues, making a diagnosis a little complicated. But once diagnosed, your dog can live a semi-normal life.

Each kidney has an adrenal gland, which is made up of the cortex and medulla. The cortex is the outer later that secretes corticosteroid hormones, and the medulla is the inner portion that secretes adrenaline. Generally, the cortex is the portion of the adrenal gland that is affected by Addison's.

When the cortex of the adrenal gland cannot properly secrete and regulate cortisol and aldosterone, which is necessary to regulate sodium in the blood. Without these hormones, the sodium levels will decrease and cause an increase in potassium and lower the dog's blood pressure.

High potassium levels can stop the heart from beating fast, which is a normal reaction to lowered blood pressure, so the lowered heart rate and lowered blood pressure, your dog can go into shock, which can be fatal.


Types of Addison's Disease

There are three different types of Addison's disease:

  1. Primary: Usually caused by an immune medicated damage to the the adrenal glands. Primary Addison's disease is caused when the glands do not produce the mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. This type of Addison's requires replacement therapy of mineralocorticoids.
  2. Secondary: Usually caused by the failure of the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal glands with the adrenocorticotropic hormone, so when the pituitary gland doesn't secrete ACTH, the adrenal glands don't get the signal (so to speak) to secrete hormones. This type of Addison's requires replacement therapy of glucocorticoids.
  3. Atypical: Usually caused by an immune medicated damage to the the adrenal glands, and without treatment, it can develop into primary Addison's disease. This type of Addison's requires replacement therapy of glucocorticoids.

Dogs Prone to Addison's Disease

Although any dog can develop canine Addison's disease, dogs who are younger to middle-aged are more prone to developing the disease, as well as female dogs. Typically, labs, standard poodles, and Portuguese water dogs are more prone to the disease.

Dogs who have other diseases and conditions that may affect the adrenal glands, to include infections and tumors, are more prone to developing the disease. There are some toxic drugs and certain steroids that are used to treat other illnesses can actually cause the adrenal glands to stop functioning properly.

Dogs who have suffered a direct injury to the kidneys, infection, hemorrhage, or other autoimmune illnesses can also potentially develop Addison's disease. Dogs who are being treated Cushing's disease or have been on steroids for a long-term basis are also prone to Addison's.

by Rafael Millan

by Rafael Millan

Symptoms of Addison's Disease

The actual list of symptoms of canine Addison's disease is pretty vague, as they are similar to other health problems. The main sign of Addison's in your dog is generally going to be weakness and lethargy.

Other common symptoms of canine Addison's disease can include vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, tremors, shaking, muscle weakness, pain in hind area, and depression. Collapsing is another serious sign of Addison's eisease that requires an immediate trip to the vet.

Symptoms usually start small and start to linger for months or even years before they become a noticeable concern. Many dogs are actually diagnosed with renal failure because the BUN and creatinine levels may appear elevated.

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Diagnosing Canine Addison's Disease

Your vet will perform a heart EKG to test whether the heart has slowed. Blood tests are also common to determine abnormally low sodium and high potassium levels. Your vet may also check your dog's electrolyte levels, although this isn't a definite test for the disease.

Your vet may also perform an ACTH to determine whether or not the adrenal glands are performing properly, testing the cortisol levels in the blood.

Fludrocortisone is a common medication to treat Addison's in dogs. Both Fludrocortisone and Prednisone require a veterinarian's prescription.

Fludrocortisone is a common medication to treat Addison's in dogs. Both Fludrocortisone and Prednisone require a veterinarian's prescription.

Treating Addison's Disease

There are actually different types of medications that your vet may prescribe to keep your dog's Addison's in control. The medications are used as a replacement therapy to replace the missing hormones in your dogs body. Generally, your dog will receive an injection once every 28 days.

Most vets will also prescribe prednisone or hydrocortisone shots in combination to the hormone replacement, which will help replace the cortisol in the body that the adrenal glands aren't producing properly.

Depending on what type of Addison's disease your dog has, will determine what medications he will need. Generally, if your dog has primary Addison's, your vet will prescribe medications that act as a mineralocorticoid to replace the aldosterone, which is the hormone responsible to maintain electrolytes. Generally, vets will prescribe the oral medication (Florinef) or the injectible medication (Percorten).

Manage Addison's Disease With Diet Changes

In addition to the medications that your vet may prescribe, it's a good idea that you consider your dog's diet. You want to make sure that your dog is getting the vitamins and nutrients that he needs—generally that's going to mean stop feeding grocery store brand dog foods. Avoid dog foods that state "meat by-product" in the ingredients label.

If you need help choosing a good dog food, you'll want to make sure that you understand how to read dog food labels.

You may also want to include various herbs into your dogs diet.

  • Licorice: Interacts and prolongs the effectiveness of corticosterods. It can increase the production of glucose and mineralocorticoids
  • Milk Thistle: An antioxidant that supports the immune system
  • Ginger: Strengthen steroid production
  • Valerian: Generally helps the heart and maintain blood pressure
  • Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion): Helps the liver, kidneys and adrenal glands, by promoting adrenal gland functions
  • Astragalus membranaceous (Huang Qi): Restore balance to the adrenal glands.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


kat on March 26, 2013:

My adorable 6 year old goldendoodle stopped eating two days ago and became very lethargic. I took her to the vets today and they diagnosed her with Addison's. How does this happen overnight?! She was perfectly fine three days ago, full of energy and eating well. Then overnight she is diagnosed. I don't get it, any help out there?

Amber on September 27, 2012:

I have had one hard road and still trying to decide what to do... My pup is 4 1/2 years old and has had issues with her anal gland rupturing. It happened once more about two or three weeks ago, but toward the time I thought she was starting to heal up, she stopped eating, refusing any type of food. I starting talking and seeing my vet and after 5 days of not eating and healing just fine, they decided to draw blood. The results point to Addison's disease. I am currently waiting for the ACTH test results, but the expense of it all has me thinking. Plus we learned that she has pretty advanced hip dysplasia, but she just started showing us signs of pain every once in a while. The normal treatment for the pain of this can not be taken with the steroids for the addisons, but an alternative pain med can help. I keep trying to decide if she could have a normal life if I spend all this money, but it seems like a 50/50 shot what might happen. Just wanted to share my story with you all. After a week of not eating I am hoping the first shot will let me know what our decision should be.

CJ on June 20, 2012:

I have a 3 year old jackchi that has AD. Does he absolutely need a shot on the 28th day? Come day 28 each monmth he is running around like a wild man with no signs of AD. Is it possible he could go with a longer interval? Just don't want to medicate him any more than necessary.

urggg on April 17, 2012:

My chocolatge lab 6 Moosieyears old died last night to join the statistics of addison's dogs. We have been treating him for approximately 8 months. Please take this disease seriously as we did and it still took his life. We took him to the vet serveral times within the 8 months and we did not miss his shots or his predinizone poor guy. His last bought of lethargy did not seem different then any of the rest but the poor guy didn't make it. Sorry for all of you that are dealing with this challenging disease!!

Bella's Mama on March 25, 2012:

My 7 year old chihuahua Isabella was diagnosed 3 days ago with atypical Addison's after a collapse due to an extreme blood sugar drop 2 days before that. She's my miracle girl; when I rushed her to the emergency vet that morning, I thought there was no way she was going to make it.

She's doing well on prednisone (0.625ml twice daily), thank goodness. We go to our regular vet in 2 days for follow-up, bloodwork, etc.

I have 2 questions.

1. The emergency vet mentioned that her dose may be able to be reduced and possibly discontinued in the future. If she needs this because her adrenal glands aren't working properly, how is this even possible? It's not like they are going to start working again, correct?

2. Are there any recommendations for diet? Her appetite has definitely increased since starting the prednisone. I don't want her to feel hungry all the time and she needs to eat frequently to maintain her blood sugar, but I also don't want her to gain a ton of weight.

Darlene Conley Dean on March 04, 2012:

In Dec./11 my five yr old spayed Yorkie, became ill with diarahea, vomiting and severe tremours. She was still eating well and I put her on a rice/chicken diet. Our vet gave her a complete body check and also blood in which she included Addison's test.She found nothing but had me give her a gastrinomic food.At times,she would be her lively self but then would again slip into her syndrome.Once, in Jan. her diarhea was only liguid seepage every hour and less. Her breeder supplied her with a pill that corrected her immediately. She is very thin, but eats as much as I allow her, and then comes and licks Timmy's dish.She sometimes manages a walk with her male partner. Sadly last night she again took to sleeping on the floor and trembling, but no vomiting. This a.m. she for once turned down her breakfast. My question is: What could be the cause of these tremour upsets. (It's not fright)She's so tiny and sweet we don't want to loose her.(We are not novices,at one time bred and showed Westies for 15 yrs.)My sincere thanks for any advice you can give me

alyssa on January 21, 2012:

I have a 5 yr old Bassett who was Diagnosed 4 months ago with Addisons. She had an Addisonian crisis and was taken to the vet where we received the diagnosis (and a lengthy hospital stay).

She takes prednisone and flourinef every day, but is still not herself. She has had one relapse (that I caught early), but I struggle with our decsion to keep pushing on with treatment instead of humanely euthanizing her.

Ever since the beginning treatment, Abby has become lethargic, can only go for short walks, increased aggresiveness towards our other dogs, doesn't enjoy visint her dog friends, etc., all the while battling CHRONIC ear infection for the last 2 years. All she wants is to be near me and at home with her family. I really question her current quality of life. Not to mention the almost $3 000 vet bill we have run up in these 4 months.

I am posting because I want people to understand that as much as we love our dogs like children, sometimes we should let nature dictate the length of their lives. I wish I had considered our 5 wonderufl years together when she almost died from her first crisis, instead of pushing forward scared to lose out on the years we hadn't shared yet. She is not the same dog she used to be.

And now I am faced with a horrible choice to take in my beautful dog (who is not presently "sick" in a crisis) to possibly be put down to end her percieved suffering. How do you know when it is time?

Anne Anziano on January 05, 2012:

Lost by beautiful Chihuahua Benji today to Addisons. Benji went quickly - took him to the vet 12 days ago with vomiting and muscle weaknes in his hind quarters. Vet treated him with a Convenia shot because he said my dog had an infection. Benji was out of sorts for 2 more days, but then he started to pick-up - eating and playing again. One day after New Year's, when all our holiday guests left, he became lethargic and wouldn't eat. He stayed on his bed and seemed depressed. Since this had happened to him before when guests had left, I didn't think much of it. Yesterday, I came home from work to find him shaking and refusing to get off his bed. I wrapped him in a blanket and took him to our vet. Our usual vet was not their, but his partner was. Benji's pulse was 44 and his temp was 96. After many tests, she suspected Addisons and gave his cortisol shots and a saline IV. Unfortunatley, Benji did not make it through the night. It was just too late! I had never heard of Addisons and my vet never tested him for it. In retrospect, my dog had many symptoms of it throughout the years, but they were vague and he was always diagnosed with something else. Benji lived to be 12 years old before dying during an Addison's Crisis. I feel guilty about not taking him back to the vet sooner - when he first displayed symptoms after New Year's. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories - I am heartbroken and I understand your pain of losing such a precious member of your family. This sharing helps so much!

Veebilly on October 06, 2011:

Hi All Our lovely yorkie is going into the vets tomorrow for an ACTH test for Addisons. She unfortunately has heart failure and has been poorly for a couple of years. the first vet that we got just told us that she didn't know what was wrong with Suzi and gave us antibiotics. That was about 5 weeks ago. We took her back a fortnight ago and Paco our vet suspected the heart failure problem but was still unhappy with the diagnosis and did blood test which came back with the low hormonal situation. Paco is so up front and explained to us that the heart problem was secondary and then he went on to tell us about Addisons. Everything that he told us is in this article so we feel reassured but most of all the experiences of you all have helped and we don't feel so along and useless and at least if the test comes back poitive then we know now that there is a chance for Suzi to have a good life. I am heart sorry for all of you that have lost your dogs as I know that this has been heartbreaking for us...x

abouza on September 19, 2011:

I am so sorry for all of those who have lost a dear friend due to Addison's disease. All of your stories seem so familiar that I could not help but post. About 14 months ago, my 5yr old Korean Jindo became very ill. He became lethargic and would not eat. I took him 3 times to our local vet and his diagnosis was always that my dog was suffering from a severe kidney infection and needed an aggressive antibiotic treatment. This went on for about 3 months, where my dog began to lose a lot of weight. After not seeing any improvement, I sought help with an internal medicine specialist at a pet er. Within hours of admitting him, my dog was diagnosed with Addison's disease. By then, he was already experiencing renal failure and was very anemic. And the very next day after beginning his treatment he began to be himself again. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I finally had an answer and a cure for Tigger's illness. The vet said that he would've died had I not taken him in that day. We began treating him for Addison's and within a couple of weeks he was himself. Unfortunately, now 14 months later he has become lethargic once again and was admitted to the er again. The symptoms were less severe this time but I rushed as soon as I saw the early warning signs. Sometimes the medication and the dosage needs adjusting. Don't give up on your pet. I know how difficult it is to deal with Addison's, but if managed properly your dog can lead a healthy and long life. It is also very important to find a vet that is experienced with this disease because it is not very common.

Yveie on September 02, 2011:

My 8yr old jack russell Sally passed away last night after having an Addisonian Crisis. The Vet checked her blood & xrayed her after suspecting a blockage or gastrointestinal upset. And not long after the results came back positive for A.D, she had a cardiac arrest. She'd been a little unwell for a few days, but the symptoms didn't seem unusual. With the gift of hindsight, she had probably dealt with Addison's disease for quite a few months & we'd not even realised it. (I've had jack russell dogs since childhood). She was such an active, friendly & clever little companion. It's somewhat reassuring to have a diagnosis & to read your stories. Thankyou. I'd never heard of A.D. before.

carole on April 11, 2011:

my dog has just been diagnosed with addisons and watching her being so depressed is awful, reading other readers posts makes me feel a bit more positive for my wee dog

nicoletteann on March 27, 2011:

what causes dogs to shake when they have addisions disease?

Marley's Mom on March 02, 2011:

I have read a lot about Addison's now and I really believe Marley lived as long as he did with few symtoms because he exercised regularly (he ran 4-5km a few times a week and if he didn't run it, he walked it). I really think exercise helps regulate the stress hormone. I don't know how able dogs who are on meds are to do this, but if they can, it may help prolong their lives.

mypaco on February 20, 2011:

Hey everyone, my paco is 10 1/2 years and was just diangnosed. He has been having all the symptoms for the past 6 years of this disease, but no one ever knew because they say his electrolites were normal all of the time which is rare for addisons. He has the Atypical kind. I have to give him predisone everyday for the rest of his life. I am just glad we finally have a diagnosis after all of these years and that we didn't lose him.

Sue on February 04, 2011:

To Conflicted: your pup has a great chance of survival! The simple fact that he's been diagnosed is such a huge first step!

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on February 02, 2011:

Thanks for such useful information

Marley's Mom on January 19, 2011:

Thank you for all your posts! My almost 8 year old Portuguese Water Dog woke up with the shakes in his back legs and died later that evening (Nov. 15, 2010). The day before he had walked almost 5 km with me. We had never heard of Addison's, but after our vet said she suspected it was the cause of his death, I have done a ton of research and I believe he had suffered with it for years, but we never realized what it was - we just thought he was being stubborn not wanting to go for a walk some days and a hyper dog when he got stressed. Good luck to those of you treating it - you are very fortunate to have found it early on.

Rachel's mom on January 10, 2011:

My 6 year old Jack Russell, Rachel, was diagnosed with Addison's over 2 years ago. She has, for the most part, been stable on her meds. The last few weeks, however, have been a rollercoaster, with several trips to the vet's. I'm hopeful we'll get things right, but it is very stressful for her and me. I don't expect her to have a long life, and there may come a time when I have to make a hard decision. But for those just experiencing a diagnosis - hang in there. We've had two great years, after the first medication adjustments, and hopefully we'll have more great times if we can get things straightened out now. I read about some people putting their dogs down. I can understand having to come to that decision - but for your sake and your dog's, work with it. You may very well be surprised how relatively simple it can be, once things are sorted out, and how much joy you and your dog can have together. Also, for those struggling with costs of medications - check around - my vet doesn't charge anything like some of you are paying, and I see drugs advertised on the internet as well. There may be options.

Conflicted. on January 05, 2011:

My 5 year old lab mix is currently at the doc, receiving IV fluids, steroids and treatement. They say he has Addisons, and that it can be treated with DOCP every 25 days and return to live as usual... but these posts make me weary and unsure that I am doing the right thing. I love my pup with all of my heart, but in the end am i doing him right by beginning treatment that may work, but from the posts, i dont know. Im scared, unsure and dont know what to do. He started losing weight, not eating and became lethargic. All of you who have experienced this, being at the crossroads again what decision would you make?

Norton on November 23, 2010:

My dog had Addisons, she is on meds however she will not eat..what to do. Could she be depressed and need treatment for that?

Tried changing foods to no avail.

DoodleMom on October 30, 2010:

3 weeks into diagnosis and I have only seen glimmers of my once energetic pup. She is only two 1/2 years old. Since diagnosis, she has had two seizures due to her inability to regulate her electrolyte/sodium levels. We're giving her 7 doses of meds daily and she is urinating about every hour, even through the night. This is really wearing on me. We have almost daily visits to our vet who is puzzled by her lack of improvement. Her levels rise and decline. She has her appetite back and has gained the 6lbs she lost during the crisis. She is now on anti-seizure medication which has turned her into a drone who eats & pees. I'm losing hope that we can get a handle on this and give her the quality of life she deserves. We've increased her pred & now fludro doses this morning. This is so hard to witness.

Randy on October 28, 2010:

My almost 3 year old Mountain Fiest Cassie, all of the sudden started shaking one day and acting like she was hurt. I took her to the vet and he said she had hurt her back. He gave me pain pills and muscle relaxers with I gave her religiously. After a week, I took her back because she had stopped eating but was taking water. I insisted on an x-ray which they did and said it looked like she had been t-boned. I figured it must be by my 14 month old Mountain Fiest, Sandy. I continued the meds but something didn't seem right. I called the vet and he said take her off the meds and bring her in. This vet is very busy, but the most reasonable price wise in the entire area. I had waited almost 7 hours both days to see him. SO, I called another vet and took her to them with a same day appointment and he saw me right on time. He also said my Cassie had hurt her back but didn't xray her. He told me what to give her from the meds I already had and I kept giving them to her. 5 days later the dog still was shaking and jerking all the time. She would not eat and acted like her hindquarter was injured. He had been giving her laser treatments for her back and she had not improved. Fnnally, I insisted on a blood test because something just wasn't right. This is three weeks from first diagnosis from first vet. He told me he was concerned because certain things were out of balance and he kept her overnight and gave her IV's. The next morning he did another test and discovered the IV's had helped but the crucial things like potassium were still out of line. He did the addison's test and she came back positive. Here, my dog has been shaking for 4 weeks and I take her to TWO different vets and it takes them all this time to get it right. $700 later he does provide me with complimentary steroids (preg) and tells me to give her 2 1/2 MGS a day. That was on Friday. The next Wednesday I called and asked why she was still shaking and they said it was because of her injured back they thought and they would call me back on Thurs after talking to the doctor. They never called back. On Friday morning my dear Cassie fell over and started kicking and gasping for air and died. I'm struggling with many things now and she died on Oct. 22, 2010. Did the vets do all they could do? I've read many reports after the fact where vets actually stabilize the dog before sending her home. I'm hurting so bad and I have a 14 month old Fiest who is looking for her and had been with her since she was 6 weeks old. It's been the hardest thing to deal with not knowing that everything was done to help her. I'm heart brokened.

patricia on October 21, 2010:


i lost my 6yr old chihuahua in july... they tested him for addisons because he had been sick was diagonosed with gastric trouble gave him antibiotics... his blood pressure went sky high within minutes of injection . they said this was normal ... but i am not sure he didn't have a reaction to this drug.. that was 11pm at night next day after having very unsettled night my boy went into total collapse. by 7am after a few test for addison i had to have him put to sleep a couple hours later.. as he went critical ... they said in the end it was pancretitis but i am sure it was addisons in the beginning because of symptoms i dont think the anti sickness or the antibiotic injection helped him at all.

i was am still totally devasted as to the fastness of is demise... he was such a big part of my life ...but reading all your comments for my loverly boy i know i made the right decision to put him to sleep i could not bear him to suffer anymore or not to have the life we had ... this was right for me hope you all find your own comfort xx

Tirzah Laughs from USA on October 17, 2010:

My male dog was diagnosed with beginnings of renal failure first, then the vet suspected Addisons.

Now they say its not renal failure and its not Addisons. I still think its Addisons. Is there a definitive test? His symptoms come and go.

Low heart rate, slightly raised cretin levels, lethargy and occasional nausea.

But it comes and goes.

He's fine for weeks and then he's exhausted again for two weeks.

Now he's started peeing in the house.

Yet they say nothing is wrong with him.

Is there a better test than blood work, urinalysis and checking sodium/potassium. She tested him on a good day. Maybe that's the problem.

DoodleMom on October 17, 2010:

Our two year old Labradoodle had another crisis less than a week after treatment. For whatever reason, she didn't respond to the DOCP injection given last week. After 4 more days of veterinary care, she seems to be back on track with the fludrocortisone and pred regiment. Two weeks post diagnosis and $2,500 later...Yikes!

DoodleMom on October 09, 2010:

My two-year-old Labradoodle was just diagnosed with Addison's on Tuesday after a frightening episode/crash. Rushed her to the vet at 7pm and she was diagnosed by 11pm. It took 3 days to stabilize her, she's home but I wouldn't say she is back to her usual self. She has been given the Percorton injection and we're giving her pepsid and prednizone daily along with something else to heal her stomach lining.

Any recommendations for dog food moving forward? We were giving her Pro-Plan performance blend - but I've heard they've recently changed/cheapened the formula, and don't want to make her condition worse if I can help it.

I'm really hoping she bounces back to her energetic self soon and can maintain a good quality of life. So sad. But thankful for the speedy diagnosis.

Doug on October 09, 2010:

Elliot, I am sorry to hear that your dog was diagnosed with Addison’s, but for what its worth, based on my experience dogs with this disease can lead a long and energetic life. I have a Blue Tick Hound that was diagnosed when she was almost 3. She was placed on fludricordisone and prednisone and after a couple of months we continued the same active life we had had before the diagnosis. Lots of hiking, fishing and long daily runs. With the exception of a few minor episodes that would take her a day or so to get over, she continued a very active life for the next eight plus years. When she was 11 she took a turn for the worse as the fludricordisone was apparently no longer doing its job. At this point we switched to percorten and, while the blood work indicated that her electrolytes were fine, it was real touch and go for the next several months. Then just as I was struggling with the decision of whether or not to put her to sleep, she snapped out of it. She will be 14 next week, and while she has slowed a bit (she now prefers walks to runs and sleeps a bit more), I would say that she is doing better than most dogs her age. As I believe is typical with the medications that Addisonian dogs take, she has always drunk and urinated a lot, which has just meant that I always need to check her water bowl and carry extra water if we are hiking somewhere where water is not plentiful. I won’t deny that her condition has required some extra effort and that there have been a lot of trips to the vet over the years to monitor her condition, but when I compare her life to the life of the dog I had growing up I would say it has been every bit as energetic and enjoyable. I hope this helps.

Elliott on October 07, 2010:

Man, it is really interesting reading all of these other stories. My first dog, Flow (Husky mix), is 4 years old, and she had an Addisonian Crisis last week, and collapsed. I rushed her to the hospital, and after fluids, a shot of atropine, and an ACTH cortisol test, she was diagnosed with Addison's Disease. She has received her first shot of DOCP, and I am giving her the prednisone, which they started at 10mg, and I have dropped to 5mg. She is drinking and eating way more than usual, which is leading to urinating and defecating at an increased rate as well. She has had some tremors, pants a lot, and there are points where she looks like she is having a bit of a psychotic episode (wiley eyes and air licking). There are moments where she is the dog that I have shared so much with: the outdoors, long walks, quite moments, and so forth, but I feel I am being told, that in order to keep a glimmer of that, I must pump her full of meds for the rest of her life--meds that come with a host of side effects--many of which mirror the disease they are treating. Somehow, it all just doesn't sit right with me. I am heavily considering taking her off the meds, going to my vet and humanely putting her down. I feel conflicted in my thinking, but a growing part of me feels that I love and respect her enough, that I would like to forget about what a "normal canine life span" is, and accept that she has had a fabulous 4 years on this planet, and this is her time to go--her dignity and grace in tact. I know with DOCP and prednisone, she can continue to live a fairly active and normal life for many years to come, but I also feel, that the rest of these forecasted years, will have our relationship mediated by the veterinarian world.

misty on August 18, 2010:

my 4yr old collie xlab she was diagnosed with addison's about a month ago we are lucky we had a good vet who without him and his staff misty wouldn't be here today she is doing well now down to 2 florinef and 2 pred she has gained weight she is picky with her food put she has always been she not losing her fur like she was the only thing is she drinks loads which is good but does has accidents is it that normal she had 1 in her sleep last night 2 she has cos

Laurie on August 18, 2010:

Jerry, I am in your boat. Our 7 year old border collie Lola was diagnosed after being treated for pancreatitus in January(a $1200 fix). We get her the DOCP shot every 28 days ($110 each), but there has also been a laundry list of other problems she has had that is accompanying the Addison's: severe allergies, UTI's, limping. Every time she goes in for a shot, she must be treated for something else to keep her healthy and happy. Now we are in hot water financially because of the credit card debt we have accrued, and do not know what we can do. I feel like we are having to choose between providing for our family and keeping our Lola alive.

CONNIE on July 28, 2010:

Hi we have a 7 year old Jack Russell who has just been diagnosed with Addisons. Took her to the vet last Wednesday and they thought she was having a phantom pregnancy but she collapsed on friday nite so took her to the emergency vet who said her kidneys were failing. Got her home Saturday morning but she would not eat, went back in the vets on monday and got a call to say they thought she would not make it through the night. She made it through and they did the tests for Addisons and that is what it is. She is still at the vets tonight as she just started eating this afternoon so hopefully will get her back tomorrow.

Jamie on June 08, 2010:

Jodi, so sorry about your precious Lady. We are going through a very similar situation right now. My Great Dane, Schatzi crashed while we were on vacation. She was taken to the ER and we raced home trough the night to be with her. I have been treating her here at home with IV's and meds, and she had her Addison's testing today to confirm the diagnoses. She crashed again this morning. Bless you for going through what you went through. I know how I felt Sat. morning with the diagnoses of renal failure and the vet telling me it would be best to "put her down". I just couldn't and am glad I did the research on Addison's disease. Now at least there is hope for her as long as I get her through this latest crash and we get the meds started soon (pending official diagnosis). It is extremely difficult for me to even think of Sat. and what I would have felt had she not made it. I hope that is the hardest day I will face with Addison's Disease.

jodi on May 04, 2010:

I lost my beloved lab and border collie cross to addison's disease in Dec 2006. One of the worst day of my life!! that morning Lady had been sitting on the couch and just rolled off into the Christmas tree. I disregarded it as she was sleeping. By noon when I came home for lunch she had no movement in her back legs and had lost all control of her fluids. I took her to the vet and they told me she was crashing, meaning her organs were shutting down. She died that night. It went so fast!

Debi on March 18, 2010:

Our dog Spirit is on Florinef and Prednisone. The florinef is about 35 dollars a month and he weighs 100 pounds. He was diagnosed about 6 weeks ago and is doing well on this. The shot would have been about 300 dollars.

Jerry on February 19, 2010:

Our Dog Roxie,American Bulldog,Rott weiler mix has had addison for over 2 years ,the shots have went from 100 dollars a month to over 187 a month not including the daily predisone which is additional 32 dollars a month . My question is there any alternative treatment or help, I am retired and on a Fixed income, we love Roxie but the costs are so high we are now having to put the meds on a credit card and make minimum payments to continue treatment.

Dink96 from Phoenix, AZ on February 14, 2010:

akirchner, my sincerest condolences on the loss of your Kodi last year. Managing an Addison's dog is labor of love. Our girl has been on Percorten shots every 30 days with prednisone every other day and has been doing very well on that regimen. When she gets off the pred ev. other day, she begins to shake and the lethargy sets in. We have been blessed with vets who understand the latest advances in treating Addison's and she's been doing very well at 14 years!

This is an excellent article and I come back to it from time to time for a refresher. I highly recommend it if you have an Addison's dog.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on October 08, 2009:

We just lost our Kodi in May to Addison's but he lasted 5 years, while they predicted he would only get 2 out of the monthly shots and lifelong prednisone. He actually was playing until 48 hours before he basically collapsed and we had to put him down - and rough playing! He was such a treasure and all the care was worth it to prolong his life. We found that diet and keeping stress to a minimum were key as with the prednisone, they can develop steroid "psychosis" or become very hyper over things they were never hyper over before. Excellent hub though and so personal for me! He was such a sweetheart.

Lori on September 01, 2009:

My 3 year old female Chihuahua was diagnosed about 1 month ago and she is on Prednisone and Fludricordisone. The vet was pretty quick to diagnose her and now it is a matter of playing with the meds to get them right. She does have tremors and leg shakes and is lethargic. Much better since on medication but seems to be going downhill again. Back to the vet for another check I guess. She is also being very picky about eating much of anything. Hope that helps you out.

Claudia Lanenberger on July 30, 2009:

I have a dog with Addisons, and want to know if any of the other pets with Addisons shake, or have tremors, while on the Florinef and Prednisone.

Dink96 from Phoenix, AZ on June 13, 2009:

Thank you so much for a very well-researched hub on a topic that is very pertinent to this household!

On behalf of our little Chiquita, muchas gracias!  She has lived with her disease for about 8 years now.  It's a disease of subtleties and I have learned to "read" her, but without some very good vets, particularly Dr. Jeffrey Hirsch (who recently relocated to Cedaredge, Colorado), we could have lost her a long time ago.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 13, 2009:

rb11 it is good that you have the condition in control for the most part.

rnmsn it is all research. Luckily my dogs do not have Addison's.

Ethel, it's actually more common than people think but because it's commonly misdiagnosed many don't realize it.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 12, 2009:

Touch wood my dogs do not get Addisons. Very informative hub though

rnmsn on June 11, 2009:

As a nurse I must tell you this is absolutely perfect!! Very well researched, well written, flows well. but oh my I do hope this information was not obtained first hand? I hope your canine is in wonderful health!

rb11 from Las Vegas on June 11, 2009:

Having a addisionian dog I have been through pretty much everything you described. She gets a DOCP shot every 30days, and we keep prednisone on hand in case she has a sudden attack. Besides diet we have had success giving her a B5 supplement along with a smaller dose of B-complex. As you mentioned renal failure is the mask that is often misdiagnoised in these cases. 3 years, so far so good.


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