Addison's Disease in Dogs and Cats

What is Addison's disease?

Addison's Disease is a deficiency of cortisol (a glucocorticoid) and/or aldosterone (a mineralocorticoid). The deficiency can be caused by faulty brain (pituitary) signals to the adrenal glands or by faulty adrenal glands. Cortisol and aldosterone deficiencies cause the levels of sodium and potassium to be abnormal.

Key facts about Addison's disease in dogs and cats
  • Addison's disease is a rare disease.
  • Although it is rare, Addison's Disease in dogs and cats is sometimes difficult to diagnose.

Both dogs and cats develop Addison's disease, and the following breeds have a higher incidence than normal of canine Addison's Disease:

  • Great Danes
  • Rottweilers
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Standard Poodles
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Wheaten Terriers
Recommended pet medications for dogs and cats with Addison's disease:
Why is Addison's disease bad for my pet?

Addison's disease can be fatal. The adrenal hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) that are diminished with Addison's Disease are necessary for maintaining normal health, including blood pressure, kidney filtration, and a strong heartbeat. Without cortisol and aldosterone, your pet will be weak and may vomit. Their heart won't beat normally; they can shake, and become dehydrated. If your pet is not treated with fluids and cortisol, he or she may die.

Max's Tip

Pets diagnosed with Addison's Disease will generally require lifelong treatment.