Addison’s Disease in Dogs

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A simple test can confirm whether or not your dog has Addison’s disease.

Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticsm, or adrenocortical insufficiency) is an uncommon but potentially fatal disorder in which the adrenal glands do not secrete enough gluco- and mineralo-corticoids. Without these hormones, death will occur.


The symptoms are vague and nonspecific, so it’s easy for the disease to become life-threatening before it is diagnosed.

Symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Shivering

A veterinarian may find decreased mental ability, a slow heart rate, poor pulse quality, and low body temperature.

Blood tests may reveal increased kidney indices and electrolyte imbalances of low sodium and chlorine and high potassium. A simple test called ACTH stimulation confirms the disease.


Treatment traditionally involves replacing mineralocorticoids with fludrocortisone acetate (Florenef Acetate). Glucocorticoids may also be replaced depending on the dog’s condition.

Dogs tend to be resistant to the desired effects of Florenef, thus high doses are required and side effects include increased thirst, urination, and urinary incontinence in some cases.

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