Addison's Disease in Dogs: What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Enfermedad de Addison en Perros: Qué es, Causas, Síntomas y Tratamiento

Welcome Waggyfriends! On this occasion, we will explain in depth Addison's disease in dogs, a condition that, although rare, can significantly affect the health and well-being of our furry friends. We will discuss the causes of this condition, symptoms to look out for, diagnostic methods, and available treatment options. Additionally, we will offer tips on how to manage the daily life of a dog with Addison's to ensure they live a happy and healthy life. Join us to discover everything you need to know to take care of your pet!

What is Addison's disease in dogs?

Addison's disease in dogs, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones. These hormones are essential for regulating many body functions, including mineral balance and stress response.

Causes of Addison's disease in dogs

Causes of this adrenal insufficiency may include:

  • Autoimmune Destruction: The most common cause is that the dog's immune system mistakenly attacks the adrenal glands, destroying them and preventing them from producing the necessary hormones.
  • Infections or Diseases: Some serious infections or diseases can damage the adrenal glands, preventing their normal functioning.
  • Medications: Long-term use of certain medications, especially steroids, can suppress adrenal gland function. If they are stopped suddenly, the glands may not recover properly.
  • Tumors: Tumors in the adrenal glands or other parts of the body can interfere with hormone production.
  • Genetics: In some dog breeds, Addison's disease may have a genetic component. Breeds such as the Standard Poodle, West Highland White Terrier and Bearded Collie are more likely to develop it.
  • Other Causes: Although less common, severe physical trauma, hemorrhage or diseases of the central nervous system can also affect the adrenal glands.

If you suspect your dog may have Addison's disease, it is important to take him to the veterinarian for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

How do I know if my dog ​​has Addison's? Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of Addison's disease in dogs can be difficult because they can be vague and similar to other diseases. So that they can be better distinguished, we will separate them into common symptoms and serious symptoms:

Common Symptoms

  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea in dogs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weightloss
  • Dehydration
  • You may suffer from muscle weakness or see that your dog is shaking
  • Apathy or depression
  • Abdominal pain

Serious Symptoms

  • Collapse
  • Abnormally low heart rate
  • electrolyte imbalance

What test detects Addison's disease in dogs?

The main test to detect Addison's disease in dogs is the ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) stimulation test. This test measures the ability of the adrenal glands to produce cortisol in response to stimulation. First, a blood sample is taken from the dog to measure basal cortisol levels. Next, an injection of synthetic ACTH is given. After a specific period of time, usually between 30 minutes and 1 hour, another blood sample is taken to measure the cortisol level after stimulation. In dogs with Addison's, the adrenal glands do not respond adequately to ACTH, and cortisol levels remain low, confirming the diagnosis. This test is crucial because it allows for an accurate assessment of adrenal gland function and helps differentiate Addison's disease from other conditions with similar symptoms.

How long does a dog live with Addison?

With early diagnosis and proper treatment, a dog with Addison's disease can live a long and relatively normal life. The dog's quality of life also depends on the owner's dedication to following the treatment regimen and monitoring any changes in the animal's health. Dogs with Addison's need regular visits to the veterinarian to monitor electrolyte levels and adjust medication doses as necessary. With proper management, many dogs with Addison's can participate in normal activities, play, and have a good quality of life similar to that of a dog without this condition.

Treatment for Addison's disease in dogs

Treatment for Addison's disease in dogs involves replacing hormones that the adrenal glands do not produce properly, primarily cortisol and aldosterone. The main components of the treatment are detailed below:

Synthetic corticosteroids: These medications are used to replace cortisol. They are generally administered daily in doses adjusted according to the dog's needs and the level of stress and anxiety in dogs . During stressful situations, such as surgery, illness, or traumatic events, it may be necessary to temporarily increase the dosage. Remember not to medicate your pet and always go to your veterinarian.

Electrolyte Management: Sodium and potassium levels should be monitored regularly through blood tests to ensure they are within normal ranges. Adjustments in medication dosage are based on these results.

Veterinary visits: Regular visits are necessary to perform blood tests and adjust medication doses. Close monitoring is crucial to avoid Addisonian crises, which can be life-threatening.

Observation at Home: Owners should be alert to any changes in their dog's behavior, appetite, weight, and energy levels, and report any abnormalities to the veterinarian.

What can a dog with Addison's eat?

The barf diet of a dog with Addison's disease is similar to that of a healthy dog, but it is important to ensure that it is balanced in nutrients to support his overall health.

High-Quality Commercial Dog Foods: Commercial dog foods, both dry and wet, that are complete and balanced can be a good option. Look for brands that use high-quality ingredients and avoid unnecessary fillers and additives.

Waggy's Bites Salmon or Tuna flavor treats are an exceptional choice for your dog, made with 100% natural protein that will not only delight his palate, but will also give you the peace of mind of feeding him with the best on the market. These natural treats for dogs are ideal both to use during training, due to their irresistible flavor that motivates and reinforces positive behaviors, and to offer them as an everyday reward to strengthen the emotional bond with your pet. Each bite is carefully formulated to ensure quality and well-being for your dog, making them a healthy and delicious option that your canine companion will love.

Homemade Diet: If you prefer to prepare homemade food for your dog, consult with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to ensure that the diet is balanced and contains all the essential nutrients.

Proteins: The diet should be rich in high-quality proteins from lean meats, fish, eggs and plant sources.

Healthy Fats: Fats are important for energy and skin and coat health. Include sources of healthy fats such as fish oil, coconut oil, and chicken fat.

Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, can provide sustained energy.

Vitamins and Minerals: Make sure the diet includes a variety of dog-safe fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, blueberries, spinach and broccoli, to provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Electrolytes: Dogs with Addison's may have imbalances in sodium and potassium. It is essential to monitor these levels and adjust the diet if necessary, under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Hydration: Make sure your dog has constant access to fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration, which is a concern in dogs with Addison's.

Supplements: Some dogs may benefit from specific supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and vitamins, but always consult with your veterinarian before adding supplements to your dog's diet.

Discover the benefits of Waggy's Wellness for your furry friend. These treats are not only enriched with HEMP, but also include soluble fiber from pumpkin and Omega 3 for dogs, 6 and 9, essential ingredients for good digestive tract health, especially in this hot season. Made with 100% natural ingredients such as CBD for dogs and Omega 3 for dogs , Waggy's Wellness is dedicated to the general well-being of your canine, providing a nutritious supplement that promotes their digestive health and daily vitality. Give your pet the best with Waggy's Wellness.


In summary, Addison's disease in dogs is a condition that, although challenging, can be managed effectively with proper care and consistent treatment. Knowing the causes, symptoms and treatment options is essential to guarantee the health and well-being of our beloved companions. At Waggy's, we believe that with the right information and the support of a good veterinarian, pet owners can provide the care their dogs need to live long, happy and active lives despite this condition.

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