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Endocrine diseases in dogs

Endocrine diseases don’t just affect humans. The dog can also be affected by this type of pathology, and to allow him to live as well as possible despite a hormonal disease, it is essential that he receives treatment. From diabetes to Cushing’s syndrome via hyperthyroidism and Addison’s disease, let’s discover the main pathologies caused in dogs by a dysfunction of the endocrine glands.

What is an endocrine disease?

When the endocrine system does not function normally, secretes too much or not enoughhormones, different symptoms appear. The dog may show signs of deficiency in the event of a defect in hormonal secretion, or on the contrary manifestations suggesting an exacerbated functioning of the endocrine glands. In either case, a consultation with the veterinarian is necessary in order to identify the endocrine disease from which the animal suffers and that a treatment protocol is put in place as quickly as possible.


There are several forms of diabetes in dogs.

Diabetes insipidus

Due to a failure of ADH, a hormone secreted bypituitary, this diabetes is quite rare in dogs. It is manifested by an abnormally high thirst and an increase in the volume of urine since the animal drinks a lot.

In some cases, diabetes insipidus originates from a problem with thehypothalamus who does not make enough antidiuretic hormone. We then speak of central diabetes insipidus the cause of which may be head trauma, hypothalamus failure or even a congenital malformation. This form of diabetes requires lifelong treatment.

As to nephrologic diabetes insipidus, it is due to the presence in the blood of the antidiuretic hormone due to a deficiency of the renal glands. At present, there is no specific treatment for this type of diabetes in dogs.

Finally, in certain cases, a psychological problem can be at the origin of a diabetes insipidus called psychogenic, but this disruption is fortunately limited in time. The dog must be followed by a veterinary behaviorist and benefit from a temporary treatment based on anxiolytics.

Diabetes mellitus

It should not be confused with diabetes insipidus. It is quite common in dogs (females being predominant in this area), especially from the age of 6, and certain canine breeds are more predisposed to it (Poodle, Dachshund, Beagle …).

Diabetes mellitus is manifested by having too much glucose in the blood because the pancreas does not make enough insulin or because the cells are using glucose poorly. Three types of diabetes mellitus are identified: insulin-dependent diabetes also called type I diabetes (this is the most common), type II diabetes or non-insulinodependant diabetes and type III diabetes or transient diabetes.

It can be noted that type II diabetes is more particularly detected in dogs suffering from obesity and that type III diabetes may be linked to fibrosis, pancreatic disease or simply be the consequence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

The main symptoms of diabetes mellitus are intense thirst, sticky urine, weight loss, digestive problems, a high level of fat in the blood, cataracts …

Cushing’s syndrome or hypercorticism

The cause of this endocrine disease lies in the adrenal glands which produce too much cortisol, a hormone secreted from cholesterol. But there is also a pituitary form, from afar the most frequent in dogs. In this case, it is the hormone adrenocorticotropin (ACTH or corticotropic hormone) which is produced in excess by the pituitary gland.

We can also detect a adrenal gland dysfunction due to a benign tumor or cancer disrupting the regulation of cortisol synthesis. It is then an adrenal form of Cushing’s syndrome, but this case is very rare in dogs.

Whatever the origin of thehypercorticism, the manifestations of the disease are numerous and very varied: increased hunger and thirst, larger urine volume, abdominal distension, hair loss, intense fatigue, breathing difficulties, muscle wasting… The diversity of symptoms can be explained by the fact that cortisol has an impact on the whole organism. Treatment may be with corticosteroids and in the event of a tumor, surgery and sometimes radiotherapy may be necessary.

Thyroid pathologies in dogs

Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are two endocrine diseases that can be encountered in dogs.


Uncommon in canines, it is due to excessive production of thyroid hormones the cause of which may be, for example, an adenoma or cancer. This causes many symptoms such as weight loss despite the increase in the dog’s appetite, tremors, excessive thirst, increased urine volume. There is a change in behavior: the dog becomes agitated, becomes irritable, even aggressive.


it’s about the most common hormonal pathology in canines. It manifests itself especially from the age of 3, in dogs and bitches, affects all breeds although some are more predisposed to it, as is the case with the Golden Retriever, the Beagle or the Doberman. Hypothyroidism causes slowing of metabolism.

The symptoms are extremely diverse because all organs are affected by this hormonal dysfunction. We note among other things: hair loss, heart problems, change in voice, eye problems, weakness of the hind limbs, change in appetite (loss or increase) but in all cases the dog is gaining weight … Synthetic hormones are prescribed for life.

Note that the dog may suffer from primary hypothyroidism when their immune system is malfunctioning. Antibodies are then produced in large quantities and destroy the cells of the thyroid. This form, which is designated by the term lymphocytic thyroid is asymptomatic, at least initially, and develops slowly. No treatment can cure her. When the manifestations of the disease appear, it is anyway too late to save the animal since the destruction of the thyroid is already complete.

Addison’s disease

This is how theadrenal insufficiency also called hypocorticism. It is quite common in dogs and should not be confused with the hypercorticism we discussed above. In the majority of cases, it is due to autoimmune disease that impacts the adrenal glands so that they no longer produce enoughadrenal cortex hormones. Natural corticosteroids are therefore in deficit.

The dogs mainly affected by Addison’s disease are females between 2 and 6 years old, belonging to certain very specific breeds such as the Great Dane, the Bearded Collie and the Poodle, even if all canine breeds are susceptible to developing this condition. endocrine disease.

Symptoms that should alert are for example anorexia, weight loss of the dog, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting, tremors, abdominal pain, increased thirst and the volume of urine … manifestations that may appear cyclically, but the disease can also be chronic or acute. Either way, it requires a urgent consultation because it can lead to the death of the dog following a violent drop in blood plasma in the veins called hypovolaemia or hypovolemic shock.

Treatment may be based on rehydration of the animal through an infusion, intravenous corticosteroid intake, and lifelong corticosteroid drug therapy is often required.

No dog is immune to an endocrine disease whose consequences can be very serious for the animal. It is therefore essential to think about insuring your animal as soon as possible with a mutual health insurance for dogs. This makes it possible to ensure the follow-up of his little companion, to watch over his health, to identify an illness early and to seek treatment at a lower cost if he becomes ill or has an accident. The treatment of an endocrine disease can indeed be long and very expensive if the veterinary procedures are not covered by an insurance company.

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