Question: My 12-year-old dachshund has just been diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. We are clueless about the diagnosis and wondering if you can give us any information? — Elaine

Answer: Cushing’s disease is caused by an excess of cortisol (a natural steroid) in the body. This affects the body’s metabolism, immune system, urinary system and skin. Common clinical signs are drinking a lot and peeing a lot, loss of hair on the flanks with thin skin, and a pot-bellied appearance. Often, increased panting is also seen.

Cushing’s disease can be caused by two things: a pituitary tumor and an adrenal tumor. Pituitary tumors are generally benign and treated with oral medication (trilostane — brand name Vetoryl). Adrenal tumors are more often malignant and treated surgically. 

Generally, Cushing’s disease has a good prognosis as long as it is treated and the patient receives followup care. It can be a long, often expensive process, but Cushing’s disease patients tend to feel so much better after treatment. Good luck! — Jillian McGregor, DVM of Gruda Veterinary Hospital

Gruda Veterinary Hospital, established in 2001, is a full-service small-animal veterinary hospital in Santa Fe. Services include routine medical care, general surgery, dentistry, ultrasound, orthopedics, chiropractic and acupuncture, and the hospital is fully equipped with modern technology. Email your pet questions, along with your name and contact information, to

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