Cushing disease is hyperadrenocorticism caused by an ACTH-secreting tumor of the pituitary gland. Clinical signs include polyuria, polydipsia, alopecia, and muscle weakness. A low-dose dexamethasone suppression test is the preferred diagnostic test. Treatment options include medical therapy, radiation, and surgery.
Breeds in which Cushing disease is commonly seen include:
Poodles, especially miniature poodles
Large-breed dogs often have adrenal tumors, and there is a distinct predilection in females (3:1). In cats, hyperadrenocorticism is found in middle-aged to older cats, with a slight predilection in females (60%).
The most common clinical signs of Cushing disease in dogs and cats are:
abdominal enlargement (“pot-belly”)
panting (dogs only)
recurrent urinary tract infections
thin, fragile skin (especially cats)
dermal atrophy (especially around scars)
In cats, the most striking dermatologic sign is increased skin fragility; many cats present with self-inflicted cutaneous wounds. Secondary infections (especially respiratory) are also common in cats.
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