Ask the Vet Archive

Your chance to ask Dr. Mindy Cohan, VMD, our resident pet health expert, what's on your mind!

Topic: Canine Addison's Disease

Question from Melisa in Claymont:
Recently my dog Mischief was diagnosed with Addison's disease. I was told that he would have to have a shot once a month for the rest of his life as well as a steroid pill on a daily basis to keep him alive. The cost is running about $350.00 per month and I feel like I am being ripped off. Due to the high cost, Mischief has not had a shot in two months, but remains on the steroid pill. Since he is doing okay and not having any of the problems seen at the time when we learned of his disease, is it possible to give the shot every 3 months or so?

Answer from Dr. Mindy Cohan:
Addison's disease is caused by a deficiency of the body's natural steroid hormones. The adrenal glands, located just in front of the kidneys, are responsible for the production of the glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid hormones. These hormones enable the body to respond to stress.

The clinical signs of Addison's disease include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. Many dogs will quickly become extremely sick and present to a veterinarian in what is called an "Addisonian crisis". These dogs require treatment for shock which usually includes intravenous fluids and injectable steroids.

Treatment for Addison's is very important to prevent future crises. The injection your vet has recommended is unfortunately very costly, but the right therapy for Mischief. The larger the dog, the more expensive the treatment. The injection will ensure that your dog's sodium and potassium (electrolytes) levels remain normal. Your veterinarian's treatment recommendations are appropriate, but if you have concerns about the cost, you should get a second opinion. If the injections are not given as recommended every 25-28 days, Mischief is at risk for becoming very sick and could possibly die.

Posted April 16, 2006

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