We reviewed normal endocrinology, or hormonal function, last week. Things can really go awry when the hormones get out of whack. Dogs are quite susceptible to low thyroid problems. this can lead to hair loss, weight gain, lethargy and even neurologic issues such as seizures. Cats tend to get high thyroid levels and become more active, hungry and yet lose weight. Luckily, both of these conditions are often quite easy to treat. Diabetes is another common problem with our pets. Overweight cats, such as the one seen here, are particularly susceptible. Low insulin levels will cause them to have signs of increased thirst and urination, weakness, appetite changes, weight loss and even the development of cataracts almost overnight. It is very important to get the excess weight off of cats before this happens. Adrenal gland problems can be very serious. Overproduction of cortisol, Cushing’s disease, can be caused by a primary tumor of either the adrenal gland or the pituitary gland. Typical signs include increased thirst and urination, weakness, hair loss and other skin or neurologic changes. This can be a tricky disease to treat in some cases, but we are usually quite successful. Addison ™s disease is a decreased production of adrenal gland hormones and can cause a waxing and waning diarrhea and vomiting, heart problems, weakness, severe dehydration and even aggression.
Diagnosis of endocrine disease generally begins with labwork and almost always requires more involved lab testing and often advanced imaging such as ultrasound or MR scans. Treatment and prognosis are quite variable based on the entire health picture of the pet. The doctors at Animal Care Clinic are very good with these diseases.
by Bonnie, Markoff, DVM, ABVP