Today’s guest was Lori Basher, President and Co-Founder of Canine Addison’s Resources & Education (CARE), a 501c3 not for profit organization whose mission is to provide resources and education to improve the lives of dogs with Addison’s disease and empower owners to advocate on their behalf. Lori became acquainted with Canine Addison’s Disease when her beloved dog, Mack was diagnosed at age two. Since then, she has dedicated her time and energy to educating others about the disease, its treatment and celebrating the lives of dogs with Addison’s Disease.
Addison’s Disease is a chronic endocrine system disorder. The disease occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce sufficient hormones required to sustain life. Lori explained there are essentially three different types of Canine Addison’s: 1. Atypical Addison’s where there is insufficient production of cortisol. 2. Typical Addison’s where there is a deficiency in both cortisol and aldosterone. Dogs that have Typical Addison’s may show reduced sodium and increased potassium in a blood profile. 3. Secondary Addison’s where the deficiency is a pituitary gland problem.
When an animal is diagnosed with Addison’s, generally IV fluids will be administered to balance the electrolytes. Ongoing treatment can include either a daily Prednisone pill or a monthly shot of Percorten or Zycortal plus a daily glucocorticoid or daily Florinef tablet depending on the whether it is Atypical or Typical Addison’s.
Addison’s Disease is sometimes referred to as “the Great Pretender” because it can mimic other diseases. Symptoms can include lethargy, muscle weakness, lack of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors or shaking and frequent drinking or urination. This list is not exhaustive, but it is easy to see where symptoms of other illnesses could be confused with Addison’s. The only definitive test for diagnosing Addison’s Disease is the ACTH stimulation test, which is typically accompanied by a blood profile.
CARE has an active FaceBook group and has members for all over the world. These dog lovers help support and educate each other about diagnosing, treating and living with Addison’s Disease. The disease is highly represented by a few breeds including Standard Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, West Highland Terriers, Great Dames, Saint Bernards, Germain Shorthaired Points, Bearded Collies and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. It is also starting to show up in the “Doodle” breeds including Labradoodles and Goldendoodles. However, any breed of dog can be affected by Addison’s Disease. Lori told us she is even aware of a cat that has Addison’s Disease.
Treatment for Canine Addison’s Disease is both manageable and affordable. CARE is available to help dog owners learn all they need to know. CARE has also published a variety of materials that can be downloaded from their site. One in particular is their Fillable Emergency Preparedness Form for Dogs with Addison’s. You can also download their manual, COVID-19 Preparedness for Dogs with Addison’s Disease (& Other Pets). In the event of a natural disaster or other pet parent emergency, animals with Addison’s Disease need daily treatment and making sure there is a plan is very important. Animal Care Trust USA supports the efforts of CARE in educating pet parents about the importance of making sure there is both a short term and a long term plan for the lifetime love and care of all pets.