“Angie” is a 5 year old Sharpei cross. She’s a timid dog and her mum had been keen bringing her into our newly opened surgery to weigh her and accustom her to the new surgery.
We were surprised when Angie came in one day for an appointment as she was so sick. She had not eaten much over the last few days, had vomited once and appeared very depressed. Angie did not move around much nor show any of her usual nervous behaviour, as well she had lost 10% of her body weight. This collection of signs is quite vague and could be due to any number of diseases.
Our first response was to take some blood for testing and then to admit her to our hospital so that we could administer intravenous fluids. We knew she was dehydrated when we had difficulty in getting enough blood from her for the pathology tests, however her owner had only seen her vomit the once. Her body temperature was low and we could see that Angie’s tummy was tucked up.
(Angie not interested in anything much at all)
The intravenous fluids improved her condition rapidly and by that evening she was a lot brighter. The blood tests suggested she may have an adrenal gland deficiency and a further test, the ACTH stimulation test confirmed it! Angie’s adrenal glands had almost no function at all. She was started on tablets to replace the adrenal hormones. The tablets and regular check ups will allow Angie to lead a perfectly normal life, but without them she would definitely die.
What do the adrenal glands do?
The adrenal glands lie just in front of the kidney and their function is to produce several vital hormones. The inner part of the adrenal produces adrenalin in times of stress – the flight or fight response. The outer part has 3 zones and produce 3 hormones
: aldosterone – controls the salt and fluid balance
: glucocorticoids – (cortisol) – control of sugar, protein and fat metabolism and are released during stress
: some sex hormones.
Angie has Addison’s disease or hypoadrencocorticism. Her adrenal glands have been damaged by an immune mechanism not fully understood at this stage. Without aldosterone she became dehydrated and had serious salt imbalances in her blood. Without cortisol, Angie was anorexic, depressed and lethargic.
Addisson’s disease is not common but it is very rewarding to treat because a life & death situation can be easily turned around with fluid therapy and tablets!
Angie has regained her lost weight, and a bit more! She is still a little nervous when she comes in for her weigh in and check up, but she loves the attention when she visits. And her mum is so pleased to have her “Angie Baby” back in good health!
(Angie - 12 days later, playful again)
These photos of Angie were all taken by her proud owner.
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