Diagnosing Cushing's

The symptoms of hyperadrenocorticism (HAC) are fairly non-specific and never conclusive for diagnosing the disease. However, clinical signs and patient history remain the best way to determine the occurrence of HAC and the first step in the diagnosis process.

  • Polydipsia
  • Polyuria
  • Polyphagia
  • Hypertension
  • Pot belly
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Recurrent skin diseases      
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting

Other less common clinical signs include*:

  • Heat intolerance
  • Seborrhea
  • Comedones
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Calcinosis cutis
  • Bruising
  • Testicular atrophy
  • Failure to cycle
  • Clitoral hypertrophy
  • Facial paralysis

Some signs of Cushing’s syndrome may be confused with normal aging, which can make it particularly difficult to diagnose. Several tests are available to aid in the diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome. However, because cortisol levels in the blood of both normal dogs and dogs with hyperadrenocorticism fluctuate greatly throughout the day, a diagnosis cannot be confirmed by simply measuring the concentration of cortisol in the blood.

There are a number of diagnostic tests for Cushing’s sydrome available, including the ACTH Stimulation Test, Low-Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test, and Urinary Cortisol:Creatinine Ratio.

More information about these tests can be found in the  VETORYL Capsules Technical Brochure and by accessing the ACVIM Consensus Statement online. Further help can be obtained by contacting Dechra Veterinary Technical Services at (866) 933-2472 or support@dechra.com.

*Reusch CE (2005). Hyperadrenocorticism. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 6th Ed., Ed SJ Ettinger, EC Feldman, pp. 1592-1612.