Both dogs and humans are susceptible to Cushing’s disease. Middle-aged and older dogs are more likely to develop the disease. Can you treat canine Cushing’s Disease with CBD? Learn about Cushing’s Disease and discover how to bring relief to your canine friend by using CBD oil.
CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s disease
In dogs, hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s Disease occurs due to an overabundance of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol comes from the adrenal glands, which are found above the kidneys in mammals.
Both dogs and humans are susceptible to Cushing’s disease. Middle-aged and older dogs are more likely to develop the disease, with risk categories beginning around the age of six.
According to Washington State University, an estimated 100,000 dogs are diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in the United States every year.
Cortisol: An explainer
The mainstream understanding of cortisol is related to the concept of stress—which is partly true. In a healthy body, cortisol is released when waking up, exercising, or going through some form of exertion. It also plays a role in signaling the fight or flight response.
But the true role of cortisol in the body is much wider. According to the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, cortisol can be thought of as a natural steroid, not only helping the body adapt to stress but also regulating body weight, tissues, skin health, and a host of other features of related to proper functioning, such as the metabolism and blood pressure.
Too much cortisol in the body and the immune system is likely to become stressed, which in turn makes animals and humans more susceptible to outside infections. When the adrenal glands consistently overproduce cortisol, the body can also begin to experience other forms of disruption, which will continue to worsen until cortisol levels are reduced.
What does Cushing’s disease look like in dogs?
Most of the time, Cushing’s has a slow onset, meaning that owners may not know exactly when symptoms begin to emerge in their dog. According to VCA Hospitals, by the time that symptoms are noticeable, they usually include:
Thirst to the point of franticness
Increased urination (often as a result of overhydration)
Large increases or decreases in appetite (stress eating)
Lethargy, listlessness, and reduced activity
Panting without a clear reason
Thinner skin, noticeable upon picking a dog up
Hair loss, primarily on the body rather than legs
An enlarged abdomen that results in a ‘potbelly’ appearance
How is it treated by veterinarians?
Treatment for Cushing’s will depend partly on the source behind your dog’s increased cortisol levels.
Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease results from disruption to the pituitary gland at the base of the brain—often due to a tumor, trauma, or separate disease. When disrupted, the pituitary gland can overproduce something called the adrenocorticotropic hormone, which in turn signals the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. The FDA estimates that up to 85 percent of dogs with Cushing’s have this sort of pituitary-dependent form.
Adrenal-dependent Cushing’s disease results from disruption to the adrenal glands themselves—again, usually due to a tumor. This causes the glands to become confused and overproduce cortisol, which builds in the bloodstream.
Completely curing Cushing’s disease requires removing the tumor or other disruption to the affected gland before the tumor spreads. In adrenal-dependent cases, this may be possible through surgery, however, surgical techniques for the pituitary-dependent disease are not viable options for dogs in the majority of situations.
Most of the time, dogs with Cushing’s will be treated via a lifelong management plan, consisting of courses of medication that are designed to inhibit cortisol production, as well as frequent checkups from their veterinarian. Handled correctly, this treatment can ensure a relatively high quality of life for dogs living with the disease.
Where does CBD come into the picture?
There’s some indication that CBD may directly affect the size and growth of tumors, which could be good news for dogs with Cushing’s as a result of cancerous growths. However, the real value of CBD products for dogs overproducing cortisol is threefold:
CBD oil may be able to counteract the side effects of drugs commonly prescribed to dogs for Cushing’s. These include reduced appetite, vomiting, and lack of energy.
Second, CBD oil may be able to counteract the effects of increased cortisol levels. Working through the endocannabinoid system, CBD is able to affect receptors in the brain, nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract, reducing inflammation and irritation.
And finally, some research suggests that CBD oil may be able to help reduce hormonal imbalances and lower cortisol levels in the body. Cannabinoid receptors, which are affected by CBD, are expressed throughout the body, including the pituitary gland, and are able to influence the stress response.
And does it work?
The only true way to find out if CBD will have a beneficial effect on your dog is to try it out—starting with small daily dosages and moving from there. For some dogs, CBD may not prove effective, but the chances of your pup having a negative reaction are small to non-existent.
Until clinical evidence catches up with mainstream use, we won’t know for sure whether CBD is a viable treatment for Cushing’s disease in dogs. But, given substantial proof of CBD’s ability to work on cortisol levels through the endocrine and endocannabinoid systems, there’s definitely a good reason to be optimistic.
Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone related to the management of stress inside the body.
Cushing’s disease occurs when cortisol levels increase, due to the presence of a tumor or other disruption to the adrenal or pituitary glands.
CBD is unlikely to cure Cushing’s disease, but it should help with many of the resulting symptoms, as well as reducing levels of cortisol and overall hormone imbalances in a dog’s body.
While CBD is a good option for pet owners looking to supplement their dog’s treatment plan, it shouldn’t replace any existing treatment without extensive prior consultation with a veterinarian.
Can CBD Help a Dog with Cushing’s Disease?
Dogs who have been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease display a variety of symptoms that make this health condition a serious issue for concerned pet owners. In an effort to help their canine friend find relief, many owners have researched and started administering CBD oil for their dog with Cushing’s Disease. Because it has become a popular treatment option, it’s good to be informed about canine Cushing’s Disease, and CBD oil for Cushing’s Disease in dogs as a medical route.
What is Canine Cushing Disease?
Cushing’s Disease, or Cushing’s Syndrome is a health issue that occurs when a dog’s body produces too much cortisol. While cortisol is a necessary hormone that is responsible for stress response, weight management, blood sugar levels, and the ability to fight infections, too much or too little can lead to lasting health issues.
Cushing’s Disease is not an easy condition to diagnose, being that many of the symptoms associated with it mimic other diseases and conditions. However, once Cushing’s Disease is diagnosed, there are options to consider that will help a dog live a healthier life. In some situations, surgery can cure Cushing’s Disease by removing the disease-causing tumors on the adrenal or pituitary glands. However, not every dog is a candidate for surgery. When operations are not a viable treatment, medication is recommended in order to control canine cortisol levels.
Symptoms of Canine Cushing’s Disease
A dog with Cushing’s Disease might experience a variety of different symptoms, some of which may include
- Increased thirst
- Increased appetite
- Increased urination
- Hair loss
- Thinning skin
- Decreased activity
- Increased fatigue
- Bloating or “potbelly”
- Frequent panting
- Skin infections
CBD Oil for a Dog with Cushing Disease
If surgery is not a viable option for Cushing’s Disease treatment, medication is often the next step in the treatment process, though there are sometimes issues related to this approach as well. It’s not uncommon for medications that treat Cushing’s Disease to be hard on a dog’s liver, and for this reason, many dog owners seek a more natural treatment option.
In the search for natural treatments, CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease is often researched and considered. But what is CBD oil?
CBD is an abbreviated term that’s short for cannabidiol, which is a compound that is derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Though it is found in the same herb that produces THC-containing cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive and will not cause the “high” sensation associated with marijuana.
Instead, CBD oil is often used to treat chronic pain affecting both the musculoskeletal system and nervous system, and other health conditions that impact both human beings and domestic animals like dogs and cats.
Can You Treat Canine Cushing Disease with CBD?
CBD oil has been and is currently being used by many owners to treat Cushing’s Disease in their dogs. Because of its unique properties, CBD oil can treat Cushing’s disease in two different ways. It can be used to correct the hormonal imbalances caused by the pituitary or adrenal tumors in canine Cushing’s Disease, or it may even shrink the tumors that are causing the hormonal imbalance in the first place.
CBD Oil and Hormonal Imbalance in Cushing Disease
CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease can help reduce the symptoms brought on by hormonal imbalance by working to regulate the body’s hormones. Using CBD oil as a treatment can help a dog create enough hormones to balance its hormonal fluctuations, thus ensuring that enough of each hormone is being produced. With the correct number of active, healthy hormones, a dog’s body will begin to behave normally, despite having Cushing’s Disease.
CBD Oil and Tumor Shrinkage in Cushing Disease
Using CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease can work beyond treating hormonal imbalances in some cases. According to studies, CBD oil has been shown to reduce the size of cancerous and noncancerous tumors, including the tumors associated with Cushing’s Disease.
Because of the ability to shrink tumors, even to the point of completely eliminating them in some patients, CBD oil for dogs with Cushing’s Disease is likely to be an invaluable treatment option. Once the tumors have shrunk or been eliminated, the hormonal imbalance that causes the pet’s unpleasant symptoms will then be reduced or eliminated as well.
Considering CBD Oil for Cushing Disease in Dogs?
Pet owners who are thinking about using CBD oil to help alleviate the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in their dogs should first discuss their option with their pet’s veterinary doctor. While CBD oil is not harmful to a pet’s health, it’s still beneficial to get the most out of the pet’s treatment by using it alongside a doctor’s recommendation. This way, veterinary professionals and dog owners can monitor the dog’s treatment together and gauge improvements as they develop. Ask your chosen veterinary doctor about using CBD oil for your dog with Cushing’s Disease at your next visit to learn more about this treatment option.