Addison’s Disease, sometimes called hypoadrenocorticism can be a primary autoimmune disease that attacks the adrenal glands or secondary to pituitary disease or steroid therapy. It mostly affects young to middle-aged females but can occur in either gender or at any age. Dogs with Addison’s may exhibit various types of gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, neuromuscular effects, low body temperature, low heart rate, or hindquarter pain. The disease is easily mistaken for a variety of other conditions including infections, poisoning, seizure disorders and pancreatic tumors.
Addison’s tends to be underdiagnosed in dogs, so ruling-out other potential causes of its symptoms is important. Positive diagnosis is made with an ACTH stimulation test. The disease can be treated with medication. Long term care requires limiting stress.
Addison’s Disease is a type of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are genetically predisposed; if a dog has the disease, it has the genes. Dogs affected with Addison’s should not be bred. Their near relatives should not be bred to mates with a family history of any autoimmune disease.