Canine Addison's Disease FAQ

Q. How can I tell good stress from bad and what do I do?

A. Please don't worry - it's not that we have to remove all stress from their lives. It's just that a non-Addisonian's adrenals would respond to stress by releasing more cortisol. (And that's what the ACTH stimulation test measures - the body's ability to respond to stress by releasing more cortisol.)

Anyway, we have to either anticipate stress, or spot the early signs of stress, and supplement with a little extra medicine - specifically prednisone or hydrocortisone or one of the other synthetic glucocorticoids.

The experience of the k9Addisons list is simply that bad stress - injury, illness or something that's very upsetting like, for some dogs, a trip to the vets or the groomers or a thunderstorm tends to show up quickly as a need for more glucocorticoids.

But happy stress - a big play date, a house full of company, a joyous vacation racing around - may also deplete their reserves of cortisol. It just takes a little longer to show up. So if you see your dog on Monday is turning up its nose at food, or is especially quiet, or the eyes don't have their normal sparkle, usually you can look back and see something in the past couple of days that caused the dog some form of stress - either happy stress or worried stress. And that's when a small boost of prednisone is in order to bring things around.

Some people automatically give their dog a little extra pred before a day at the groomers. In our case, we always gave some extra pred on the day of an Agility trial (generally just an extra 1 or 2 mgs was sufficient). If it was a two day trial and there was also a long drive and nights in a motel, we might have to give that much extra pred for two days in a row.

I just cut up lots of pills into tiny pieces with my handy-dandy razor and carried them in a pill box in my purse. That way I could give a tiny boost whenever it seemed appropriate, without waiting until the symptoms became too pronounced.

(courtesy Mary Ann)

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