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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just heard from the vet (not the one from yesterday :evil: ) that saw Annabelle on Weds. She said that the only thing the blood results point to is Cushing's Disease. :cry: The only way to find out for sure is to do a $150.00 all day blood test. Or I can have an ultrasound done for $375 that will tell if the adrenal gland is enlarged (hopefully it would tell that) or is she has some type of stones in her bladder (which could also be a possibilty).

If she does have Cushing's it will be very expensive to treat her. Approximately $1500.00 a year. We do not have that. I would of course try everything to scape up the money but my husband is not so willing. I'm just going to think about which test to do over the weekend and call the vet back next week. I just don't know what to do. I would appreciate any experience that any of you have with this disease and if you have any advise I am open to that too. Thanks everyone! :cry:
 

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Oh no. That is so sad to hear. I hope it's possibly just stones in her bladder. I don't know about that disease, but I think I've heard it mentioned on here before. I'm sure someone on here can give you some good advice. I hope there is a way for you to work it out. You and annabelle are in my thoughts.
:cry:
Meg
 

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Is it the meds that cost so much? Perhaps the meds can be found elsewhere cheaper or is it more than that (tests etc) I am very sad to hear that. I would go for the blood test since the other sounds iffy. Prayers are with you all the way.
What can they do for her pain in the meantime anything?
 

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so sorry

Oh SC, I am so very sorry to hear about Anabelle. I can imagine how hard this must be for you. I'm not even sure what to say, but my thoughts are with you and Anabelle.

I imagine that it must be very frustrating to have waited for the results only to find out you need another test. Ugh.

Have you looked into pet insurance? I looked into it for Carlota and almost applied, but then we moved out of the country for a while. It could be an option for you guys, if it does turn out that Anabelle needs treatment.

Well, I wish I had better advice or ways to help. I'll be thinking of you and Anabelle and hoping for the best. Please keep us posted.

Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys!

Lee thanks for reminding me about the insurance. We definitely need to look into that. I think you have to get it BEFORE they are diagnosed though.

KB mamma, the way that I understand it, the treatment for the disease itself is expensive. The dosage has to be just right so there are lots of vet visits and blood tests done for the rest of her life. Annabelle just turned 4 years old June 9th. She's still pretty young. Poor baby. :( She is getting too much cortisol in her body. The only way they can make her feel better is to stop that. They can't treat without having a definite diagnosis.

Cushing's is caused by a tumor in the adrenal gland or the pituitary gland. (I've gotten most of my info from the net. It's all new to me and I could be wrong about some of this.) The vet only mentioned the adrenal gland to me so I think for some reason she must be leaning toward that being where Annabelle's problem is. The ultrasound would show if the tumor has spread to other parts of her body.
 

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Yeah the ins would consider that a pre exsisting condition....for a year minimum but after that I am not sure.....

Can the tumor be removed if it hasnt spread? We have to find an answer for her :(
 

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Can you consider a visit to a holistic vet as an alternative...? not sure what they can do but its an option I would try once you have all the test results in
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If it is in her adrenal gland and hasn't spread, it can be removed. If it is in her pituitary gland, they only treat with medicine.

I've never thought about holistic medicine but at this point I'm open to almost anything.
 

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I am so sorry - atleast if you have the USS done you will know what the cause of it is and they will be able to check for bladder stones at the same time - i really hope it is that , here is some info I have found I hope it helps :

Cushing's disease is probably more accurately referred to as hyperadrenocorticism -- the production of
too much adrenal hormone, in particular corticosteroids. It can be naturally occurring or due to over
administration of corticosteroids such as prednisone (iatrogenic Cushings). The latter is easy to cure -
just cut out the corticosteroid administration slowly to allow the body to return to normal function. The
former is more difficult.

Hyperadrenocorticism occurs for two reasons --- a tumor of the adrenal gland that produces adrenal
hormones or stimulation of the normal adrenal glands from the hormones that control it. The primary reason
for this to occur is a pituitary gland tumor that produces excessive ACTH, which stimulates the adrenal
gland to produce corticosteroids. Adrenal gland tumors account for 15% of the cases of spontaneous
hyperadrenocorticism. Pituitary tumors account for 85%.

Cushing's disease causes increased drinking, increased urination, increased appetite, panting, high blood
pressure, hair loss - usually evenly distributed on both sides of the body, pendulous abdomen, thinning
of the skin, calcified lumps in the skin, susceptibility to skin infections and diabetes, weakening of the heart
and skeletal muscles, nervous system disease and other symptoms. Most owners reach a point where the
water consumption and urination become bothersome to them.

The diagnosis of Cushing's can be done with several blood tests. A general hint of Cushing's can be obtained
by a blood panel. To confirm it, a test known as a low dose dexamethasone test is done. A baseline blood
sample is drawn in the morning, an injection of dexamethasone given and a follow-up blood test done 8 hours
later. In a normal dog, the dexamethasone should suppress cortisol levels in the blood stream. In Cushing's
disease this effect does not occur. Once the disease is diagnosed, it is possible to differentiate between the
adrenal tumors and pituitary gland tumors using a second test, a high dose dexamethasone suppression test.
Most dogs with pituitary tumors will have cortisol suppression on this test. There are other tests used, including
ACTH response tests and urine cortisol/creatinine ratios to diagnose this disease. X-rays and ultrasonography
can help determine if an adrenal gland tumor is present.

If it can be determined that there is an adrenal gland tumor, it can be removed. Many veterinarians prefer to have
a specialist attempt this since the surgical risks can be high. Pituitary gland tumors are not usually removed in
veterinary medicine. This situation is treated using Lysodren (o'p'-DDD, which is a relative of DDT) or ketaconazole.
Some research with Deprenyl for treatment of this is being done, too, I think. Lysodren selectively kills the outer layer of the adrenal gland that produces corticosteroids. By administering it in proper amounts it is possible to kill just enough of the gland off to keep the production of corticosteroids to normal levels. Obviously, close regulation of this using blood testing is necessary since overdoing it can cause severe problems with Addison's disease - hypoadrenocorticism. Adverse reactions to Lysodren occur at times but it is the standard treatment at this time. Over medication with Lysodren can cause inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and weakness. If any of these signs occur then your veterinarian should be immediately notified.

Treatment of Cushing's disease caused by pituitary tumors is symptomatic therapy -- it does not cure the pituitary tumor.
The average lifespan of dogs diagnosed with Cushing's, with or without treatment is estimated at 2 years by Dr. Mark Peterson, but in a recent conversation with another endocrinologist I came away with the impression that this was an "educated guess" rather than the result of extensive survey of Cushing's patients. At present, though, I think that treatment should be viewed as a means of providing a better quality lifestyle rather than as a method of extending longevity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Clare. :( 2 years with or without treatment? :( I keep thinking well maybe it is just stones in her bladder but that wouldn't explain her muscle loss evident from the blood work (would it?) or her puffy, droopy face. Then I think well maybe it is just pancreatitis. I don't know if that would have been evident in the blood work. That wouldn't explain the muscle loss or droopy face either though.
 

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SC, maybe I can help you. I understand Cushing's. My dog Dumpling (Samoyed/terrier mix) was diagnosed with Cushing's at age 13. I know she had it earlier because she had symptoms.

I gotta say this is hard for me to talk about because I only lost Dumpy 5 months ago. She lived to be 16 - that was two and half years after the formal diagnoses. She was diagnosed from a simple blood panel. Her levels - trying to remember - I'm thinking cortizone - were so high that combined with her sympotms it was obvious.

General symptoms that I recall:

1. excessive panting for no obvious reason (she began this at age 8) she'd pant so hard that the entire bed would literally sway back and forth

2. obsessive-compulsive behaviors can be a side effect (someone on this forum said that was not possible but my vet said it is what was happening and I watched it occur for years) Her obsession was licking carpet. It didn't have to be a spot where something was dropped - she just had to lick.

3. excessive drinking and urinating - a dog with Cushing's doesn't just drink, they ravenously consume water in huge quantities.

At age 13 I was given the option of further testing and medications. I learned that the medications are difficult to diagnose and adjust, that we'd have to do weekly or monthly tests, and that it was expensive. I would have paid anything to save her, but I chose not to do this because this dog's sister died of kidney disease at age 13. Her name was Doodle. She was sickly all her life. I spent thousands of dollars and I personally gave her subcantaneous (SP) fluids 2 times per day. All that increased her life by about 3 months. Doodle had been sickly all her life and was used to me treating her for various aiments. Dumpy was always healthy and never even took a pill except for antibiotics after tooth cleaning. I decided not to put her through that at age 13.

So, she began to eat Science Diet L/D and nothing else. This worked well - she was a happy girl at age 13 and 14. Before her 15th birthday she slipped on the steps and made her tumor bleed. I was told to take her home and make the decision about quality of life. Much to our surprise and our great joy she lived another year. At 15 and 1/2 she lost so much weight that she looked like a concentration camp survivor. I began to feed her anything she wanted. She regained some weight and was so happy.

The tumor was so large at this point, I could see it on her side. Soon after her 16th birthday the Cushing's, which had primarily effected her liver to that point, overtook her kidneys. She began to swell and could not walk. She laid on a cushion in whatever room I was in and wagged her tail alot. Finally one morning she wasn't wagging and was in pain and I made the call and .. you know.. stopped the pain before it increased.

My vet said if you had to pick a disease for your elderly dog - Cushing's would be your choice. It's easier than some others. However, this is heartbreaking because your baby is so young. Mine was already 13. But, my point is that she lived happily for many years and was not dragged back and forth to the vet continously. If it would help you to talk to someone who has gone through this you can PM me. If you want we can do something online like MSN or yahoo for a live chat or the chat room here. Or if you really want, I would PM you my phone number.

One questions about your vet - you're being offered lots of expensive alternatives. Was a food change mentioned?

Your pup will be in my prayers and I'm here if you want to talk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you so much for the info Frasier's mom! I was really hoping someone would have some experience with this although how sad that someone does. I'm sorry. :(

Something that bugs me is that we don't notice Annabelle drinking excessive amounts of water. She is beginning to have accidents though so mabye we just haven't noticed. :?: Mainly she "looks" ill. She has the Cushing's look. Her face is puffy and droopy and she has a saggy belly. She's gained 1lb. in 2 weeks! She's always had the thin hair and bare spots so that is not new. She does the obsessive licking that you mentioned. Other than that she just feels bad. She does nothing but sleep and occasionally will hide in the corner. She hasn't done that today, thank goodness.

As far as diet, I specifically asked the vet today about diet and she acted like it had no significance. Annabelle was on Science Diet z/d until about 3 months ago for skin rashes that we thought might be food allergies. I switched her to the Royal Canin Chihuahua because she kept stealing Cody and Callie's food. I think I'll switch her to the Science Diet l/d since you had luck with that. Do you know what the l/d stands for?
 

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I don't want to encourage you to switch vets since I know you just did. But, it's bugging me that your vet doesn't see diet as significant.

Dumpy's liver was the initial organ affected. The L/d stands for liver diet. When the kidney's are affected they need (I think) i/d and I don't know what it stands for. Both are strictly prescription and your vet will have to prescribe them. They're expensive, but no more than Annabelle will eat at her size, that's not gonna matter. Dumpy weighed 30 lbs. So we spent about $40 a month on the food.

I'm not sure if this is relevant at all to Dumpy's longevity with the disease but because of a disease her sister had, her sister had to eat Science Diet R/D (restrictive diet). So, Dumpy ate it too all of her life until the diagnosis. [Just in case anyone has a fit about a dog eating R/D when she doesn't actually need it - she had supplements in her diet and also treats with fat content to make up the difference and this was done with vet approval.]

If I recall the difference in L/D and I/D is not significant, except with certain diagnoses. Nate?

I'm crying my eyes out here because talking about this is bringing back thoughts I've tried to forget about. But, if talking to me can help you to help Annabelle I'm all for that.

Dumpy felt bad, she threw up a lot - especially bile, until we went to the L/D.

I'm thinking Annabelle in the corner might be security for her, or a developing obsession. If you don't think it's security and it hurts you to watch her sit there - block off that corner. I know she's your priority but you can make this easier for yourself in little ways too. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Annabelle throws up bile every now and then. When I took her to the vet 2 weeks ago he gave her some tummy med and some of the canned Science Diet i/d. She wouldn't touch it. Maybe if I get the dry food? She's used to dry. We were just beginning to try to figure out what was wrong with her. He was scheduled back from his vacation on Weds and a jet ski ran into him in the water and broke his pelvis. He'll be out for 3 months. Therefore the new vet. They are alternating vets until he gets back. Although I like this woman much more than the idiot yesterday, it sounds like I need to find a good one that can see us thru this.

I'm sorry this is upsetting you. I think you've given me enough info to start with. We don't have talk about it anymore. It sounds like you did the right thing with your dog and he lived a long life despite his illness. Hugs to you.
 

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ah darn it. cushings can be expensive to treat and i hoped that this wouldn't be the case. i had the cushings scare with rolo and he had to have a few blood tests (with his overall look and symptoms we weren't believing that he didn't have cushings so he did the all day tests twice.) but it turned out he doesn't have it. the all day blood tests are the better way to go since it's hard to get things on the x-ray. however if it is cushings, your baby can live a regular life with meds. i read that 2 year stuff on the web and went to my vet almost in tears when we were waiting for the results and he was like 2 years hu? that's bull sh*t. with meds he can be kept comfortable and expect to live much longer than 2 years.
 
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