Enfield Veterinary Hospital
94 Coronation Parade
Enfield, NSW, 2136

enfieldvet@bigpond.com.au
Phone: 02 9747 3999
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Friends and Pets,

Welcome to our exciting April edition. This month’s issue is all about endocrine disorders, a group of conditions that commonly affect animals of all kinds (including humans!) Endocrine disorders are the result of hormone imbalances and can cause problems with your pet’s metabolism, skin, coat, weight, behaviour and many other important bodily functions. Whilst most endocrine disorders can be controlled well with medication, if left untreated some can cause serious health problems.

 

To learn more about the common endocrine disorders we see on a daily basis in pet cats and dogs, and some of the signs to look out for, please read on!

Contents of this newsletter

01  What's an endocrine disease?

02  Cushings Disease: a common problem

03  Diabetes case study

04  A bit about Addison's disease

05  How blood testing works

06  Announcing the new Fortekor plus

07  The super helpful pooch!

01 What's an endocrine disease?
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An endocrine disease is a fancy medical term used to describe a disease caused by a hormonal imbalance. These diseases are pretty common and can unfortunately affect your pet’s quality of llife.

Endocrine diseases can even be life threatening if they are not diagnosed and treated correctly (diabetes and Addison's disease are good examples).

Endocrine diseases can develop because 1) a gland is not functioning properly or 2) the control of the gland is faulty.

When too much hormone is produced, the disease is referred to as a hyper disease. Tumours and abnormal tissue growth commonly cause an overproduction of hormone.

A hypo disease occurs when too little hormone is produced. Endocrine glands that are destroyed, removed, or simply stop working cause these diseases.

The following changes may be an early indication of an endocrine problem:

  • Changes in appetite and thirst
  • Changes in weight
  • Changes in coat and skin
  • Changes in behaviour

Diagnosis of the cause of the endocrine disease is absolutely essential if treatment is to be successful. Sometimes diagnosis and treatment can be costly and not all endocrine diseases behave as we predict they will, so communication between vet and owner is very important. Management of these disease may involve multiple vet visits and blood tests until the disease is under control. 

If you notice any of the mentioned changes above, phone us to arrange a check up for your pet. Early intervention is very helpful when it come to the treatment of endocrine disease.

02 Cushings Disease: a common problem
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 Also known as “hyperadrenocorticism”, Cushings disease is a disorder of the adrenal gland and one of the most common endocrine disorders of dogs. In this disease, the adrenal gland produces too much of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol normally plays an important role in regulating the body’s metabolism, so too much of this hormone can cause problems with almost every body system.

 

 Common signs to watch out for include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • A "pot belly"
  • Changes to the skin such as darkening, hardening or thinning of the skin; blackheads; or hair loss

 

If Cushings disease is suspected, diagnosis by your veterinarian involves performing a full blood biochemistry profile and a test to measure blood cortisol levels. Whilst the most common cause of Cushings disease is a benign tumour of the pituitary gland, treatment usually requires daily medication rather than surgery. However, it may take several blood tests and medication adjustments to get things back to normal, and treatment is usually life-long.

 

03 Diabetes case study
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Molly the Cairn Terrier visited late one afternoon. She had been ‘off colour’ for a few days. Molly usually had an excellent appetite but over the past few weeks she had lost a lot of weight. 

On examination, Molly was dehydrated and had lost 20% of her body weight over three months. A blood test revealed her blood sugar levels were very high and a diagnosis of diabetes was made.

A quick urine test also showed that there was glucose in her urine and unfortunately confirmed the presence of ketones, a potentially life threatening condition that can occur when the body can no longer cope with the disease. 

Diabetes in pets is similar to type 1 diabetes in people and generally needs administration of insulin once or twice daily to control the condition. The body fails to produce enough insulin to help move sugar from the blood stream into the cells for energy.

The four main signs include:

  1. Increased appetite
  2. Weight loss
  3. Increased thirst
  4. Increased urination

Molly needed intensive care. She was placed on an intravenous drip and insulin therapy was commenced. Thankfully she responded well and started to improve overnight.

Treatment of diabetes is life long and involves regular blood tests and monitoring. Some patients do not respond as we would expect and further investigation into other diseases sometimes needs to be considered.

If you notice any changes to your pet’s daily habits such as a change in appetite or thirst, it’s a good idea to arrange a check up with us as soon as possible.

04 A bit about Addison's disease
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Addison’s disease (or hypoadrenocorticism) is a sneaky endocrine disease that can be confusing as it often mimics other conditions. The disease is results in a reduction in corticosteroid and mineralocorticoid secretion from the adrenal gland.

Deficient production of both these hormones can produce a wide range of often vague symptoms including:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Dehydration and weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Shaking
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite

Patients will often present in an acute crisis and need critical care to save their life. 

After they are stabilised, treatment involves daily medication as well as regular blood tests to ensure electrolyte levels are kept in check. Some animals will need additional medication during more stressful times (such as car trips). There is also an injection available that can be given every 25-28 days and many dogs respond very well to this.

Addison's disease is a perfect example of why regular check ups with us are important.

If you notice any changes in your pet (as subtle as you may think they are), it's always a good idea to mention them to us. Routine blood tests may be all that is needed to detect a disease and treatment can start to improve your pet’s quality of life. 

05 How blood testing works
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Have you ever wondered what happens when we take blood from your pet?

Most blood samples are taken from the jugular vein in the neck. This vein is large enough to provide a good sample and allows us to collect the blood as quickly as possible. This is important as blood will start to clot if it is not collected quickly enough and this can affect the results.

Most pets are also more relaxed when blood is taken from their jugular however, if necessary, a smaller sample can be taken from a vein in the leg.

Once the blood has been collected we place pressure over the vein for a minute or so to prevent any bruising. This can sometimes be hard in wriggly patients!

The blood is placed into tubes appropriate for required tests. Some tests can be run on machines we have in house but there are certain tests that require more extensive machinery and so the blood sample is sent to an external laboratory.

Blood tests can give us a wealth of information about your pet's health. For example, we can work out if your pet is dehydrated, has underlying kidney disease or liver changes and we can get lots of information about your pet's red and white blood cells. All of this helps diagnose any underlying health problems and will improve the level of care we can provide to your pet.

If you have any questions about your pet's blood tests we are always happy to help.

06 Announcing the new Fortekor plus

Is your dog being treated for heart failure with a combination of “Vetmedin” (pimobendan) and “Fortekor” (benazepril) tablets? The new Fortekor plus formulation contains both in one easy tablet: pimobendan to help the failing heart pump more strongly, and benazepril to lower blood pressure and reduce fluid retention. If you think your dog could benefit from changing to Fortekor Plus, or for more information, don’t hesitate to phone our friendly team!

07 The super helpful pooch!

Is this the most helpful dog ever? We couldn't believe it when we saw what Grace the Golden Retriever was capable of! Click here to see the video on YouTube.