Most Effective Natural Remedies for Dogs with Cushing's Disease

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.
- Feb 6, 2024

Cushing's disease in dogs is one of the health issues that your canine best friend can possibly be at risk of at some point in his life.

It affects your pet's endocrine system, particularly the pituitary or adrenal glands, and may even lead to life-threatening consequences if left unchecked.

Unlike what a lot of dog parents mistakenly think, immediately resorting to conventional treatments when canine Cushing's disease gets in the picture is not your only option.

We've put together this blog post to walk you through the best natural remedies that you can use to help your pooch overcome this health problem.

Why don't we start things off by having a quick overview of what Cushing's disease in dogs is?


What is Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?

dog on leash outdoors

Technically referred to in veterinary medicine as "hyperadrenocorticism," dogs Cushing's disease is characterized by excessive amounts of the stress hormone called cortisol in the body.

It is the adrenal glands, which are located right in front of your pet's kidneys, which produce cortisol.

While normal quantities of cortisol are needed to support a dog's physiological functions like regulating the metabolism, as well as the absorption of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, having excessive cortisol levels in the body is already counterproductive.

It is important to take note that when it comes to Cushing's disease in dogs, there are two significant "triggers" that can result in the onset of this health problem: the adrenal function is on overdrive or a pituitary tumor is present.

Triggered by overactive adrenal glands

As explained earlier, the stress hormone called cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland.

When a dog's cortisol levels reach excessive amounts, it will already disrupt a number of physiological functions, such as the ability of the body to heal irritated skin or to regulate the blood pressure. One of the situations where this may happen is when an adrenal gland tumor or cancer is present.

Involves issues with the pituitary gland

Another trigger that can lead to Cushing's disease in dogs is an issue with the pituitary gland, particularly the presence of pituitary tumors.

This forces the pituitary gland to release excessive amounts of a hormone called ACTH (or adrenocorticotropic hormone), which, in turn, stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol than what a dog's body needs.


What are the Types of Cushing's Disease in Dogs?

cheerful dog with healthy coat

What's really interesting is that the term "Cushing's disease" covers three (3) different types of this health issue. While a dog's body produces too much cortisol, they also have clear distinctions that we will go over in this part of our discussion:

Adrenal-dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (ADH)

Adrenal-dependent Cushing's disease results from the presence of an adrenal tumor or cancer in your pet's body.

Excessive cortisol production can already result in the manifestation of a dog's Cushing's symptoms in a short period. Moreover, your pet's estrogen production may also be affected when this happens.

Pituitary-dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (PDH)

Pituitary-dependent canine Cushing's disease is another type that results from the presence of a pituitary tumor.

Dogs diagnosed with pituitary tumors often have too much adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH levels compared to a normal dog.

Iatrogenic Cushing’s Syndrome

This type of Cushing's disease in canines stems from the prolonged or frequent use of steroids, whether it is administered orally or through injections.

While the giving of steroids may be to support a dog during a certain medical issue, such as problems involving the endocrine system or to stimulate adrenal activity, it has already produced adverse effects in the body.

Moreover, this may also lead to findings of canine "atypical" Cushing's disease in some cases, which is characterized by high cortisol levels, but falsely show up as normal during testing.


Is Cushing's Disease the Same With Cushing's Syndrome?

sick dog taking a rest

The short answer is no.

Cushing's dog disease is just one of the health issues that can be classified as part of Cushing's syndrome. While the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol in both scenarios, they are not one and the same.

One easy way to distinguish these two is by keeping in mind that Cushing's syndrome is the manifestation of symptoms that are the result of excess cortisol production in the canine body, while dog Cushing's disease pertains to when adrenal tumors or a similar adrenal disease like cancer is present.


Does Canine Cushing's Disease Have to Do With Pituitary or Adrenal Tumors?

happy dog with white and black fur

As we've emphasized earlier, tumors and cancers affecting either the pituitary gland or the adrenal gland play a key role in the development of dog's Cushing's disease. They typically lead to excess hormones being produced by a dog's body, particularly cortisol.

There is Adrenal-Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (ADH) when an adrenal tumor or cancer in a dog's body is present. On the other hand, there is Pituitary-Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) when pituitary tumors are present.

Regardless if it is either ADH or PDH, the cortisol levels in your dog's body will reach excessive amounts and Cushing's symptoms will subsequently get in the picture. It is crucial to keep in mind that your pet needs proper and immediate care when this situation occurs.

Contrary to popular belief, though, conventional treatments are not just your only recourse when your pooch is afflicted with dog Cushing's disease. Besides walking you through the natural remedies for canine Cushing disease, we will also give you the lowdown on the highlights of each natural treatment in just a bit.


How is Cushing's Disease in Canines Diagnosed?

golden retriever on outdoors

If we're being honest, there is no single test that can completely determine if your dog is afflicted with Cushing's disease. Below you will find the most common series or combinations of tests used to check the existence of this health issue in canines:

ACTH stimulation test

This type of test is generally used to screen for various health issues concerning adrenal function, particularly iatrogenic hyperadrenocorticism, as well as excessive cortisol production in dogs that occur spontaneously.

It basically measures the levels of the adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH in a dog's body to check if they are within normal limits.

Low-dose dexamethasone suppression (LDDS) test

Considered as the "test of choice" by veterinarians with respect to Cushing's disease in dogs, this involves an assessment if there is a "lack of suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis by exogenous corticosteroids."

What's really important to take note of when it comes to the LDDS test is that results may yield a false negative or positive if the dog assessed is suffering from a health problem not related with the adrenal glands or does not involve canine adrenal support.

Urine cortisol to creatinine ratio (UCCR) test

This type of test involves checking the urine of a dog suspected to have Cushing's disease while simultaneously administering oral dexamethasone for a few days. The baseline values are compared each day.

However, it is crucial to keep in mind that spikes in a dog's stress levels can affect the results and may even lead to a false positive or negative in some cases. Other tests like checking for irregularities in alkaline phosphatase levels and the conduct of abdominal ultrasound are also used to really come up with an accurate diagnosis.

A holistic vet may also recommend some other tests to determine if your dog is afflicted with Cushing's disease. He or she may suggest some natural treatments to deal with the same. You can schedule an online consultation right now to get started.


What are the Causes of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?

hands of the fur parents with the paw of their pet

What's alarming about Cushing's disease in dogs is that it can affect your canine best friend without a warning.

However, there are some factors that are theorized to possibly increase the risk of your pet as regards being afflicted with this health issue, which are as follows:


Older dogs are rather vulnerable to Cushing's disease due to the various physiological changes that are happening in their bodies. One of these changes involves sudden dips and spikes in hormonal levels that they produce.

While elevated cortisol levels do not automatically mean that your pet is already going through this health problem, not being able to immediately and properly manage Cushing's disease can aggravate the same.


Although all dogs are susceptible to Cushing's disease, the typical breeds diagnosed with this health issue are Boston Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, Australian Shepherds, Maltese dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Dandie Dinmonts, Beagles, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Poodles, and Boxers.

Overall immune system health

Issues with the endocrine system, such as adrenal tumors, can stem from poor immune system health. Having an ideal immune response helps your pooch keep the onset of disease and illness in check, which may include those from Cushing's symptoms.

It is crucial that you boost your dog's overall immune system health as early as now.


What are the Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?

golden retriever lying on the grassWhat's rather surprising about the clinical signs of canine Cushing's disease is that they can be similar to the symptoms of other health issues in dogs.

Make sure you take note of the following indicators since these are the most common symptoms that your pooch is going through this wellness problem:

  • Excessive thirst and increased appetite

  • Frequent urination or excessive urination (usually accompanied by bouts of incontinence)

  • Hair loss or the development of bald patches

  • Recurring issues with the skin like inflammation, lesions, and rashes

  • Lethargy (the imbalance of hormones can make your dog excessively sleepy)

  • Having a pot belly

  • Persistent bouts of stress and anxiety

  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss

  • Too much panting (even during rest)

  • Significant changes in mood and behavior

As we've highlighted earlier, conventional options aren't just your only recourse when dealing with Cushing's disease in dogs.

We're now going to go over the natural treatments for this health issue for the next part of our discussion.


6 Natural Remedies for Cushing's Disease in Dogs

cheerful dog looking at the camera

Just to reiterate, there are natural remedies for Cushing's disease in dogs that a lot of pooch parents seem to overlook.

While we believe that veterinary science plays a key role in helping keep our pets in tiptop shape, we'd also like to share that you can also use a natural treatment or two when taking care of disease and illness in dogs.

Below you will find the best natural treatment plan for Cushing's disease should your canine best friend be afflicted with the same:

#1: Increase your pet's intake of fish oil and antioxidants.

Your dog's diet is crucial when it comes to managing Cushing's disease. Integrating Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids won't just help him become more resilient against sickness due to their antioxidant benefits, but also assist in dealing with other symptoms of this health problem like hair loss.

See, fatty acids from fish oil keep hair follicles strong while staving off inflammation and dryness.

These issues not just encourage hair loss, but also aggravate it if not dealt with the right way. Simply adding fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout, among others, to your dog's meals will already do the trick.

#2: Dandelion helps support ideal adrenal gland function.

Although a lot of people consider the dandelion as a "nuisance" in the yard or garden, it is actually loaded with D, C, B, and A vitamins, not to mention potassium, zinc, and iron that the adrenal glands need to keep functioning properly.

Interestingly, you can use all of the dandelion plants—from the roots, leaves, and all the way to the flowers—either as tea or dried powder for this application.

You can also mix it with your dog's water to deal with frequent urination.

#3: Milk thistle helps keep too much cortisol levels in check.

Milk thistle seeds have been found to contain a compound called silibinin, which can help keep the excessive production and release of adrenocorticotropic hormones, or ACTH in check. Studies even show that this plant has potential when it comes to dealing with pituitary gland tumors.

A quick reminder, though. This natural treatment is not recommended for lactating or pregnant dogs.

#4: Turmeric assists in maintaining healthy adrenal function.

Apart from having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, curcumin in turmeric has also been seen to "inhibit the unnecessary secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormones or ACTH," as reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

You can already pull this off by adding a small amount of turmeric powder to your dog's food or water. Just remember not to use too much since turmeric has a slightly spicy kick that your pet may not find pleasing in excessive amounts.

#5: Greek propolis can help improve the wellness of adrenal and pituitary glands.

Known as "bee glue," Greek propolis is found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral, as well as antibacterial properties. It has also been discovered to contain compounds that may help prevent tumor and cancer cells from "communicating" with one another.

This attribute can be really helpful, especially when there exists an adrenal gland tumor or a pituitary tumor, which can disrupt the normal production of cortisol levels in the body of a dog.

You can mix Greek propolis with either your pet's food or water for this application.

#6: Piptopet is designed to naturally support your dog during tumor and cancer.

Zumalka's PIPTOPET is made from a mushroom called Fomitopsis betulina (formerly Piptoporus betulinus), which has been seen to have "antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties," according to another study published by the NCBI.

PIPTOPET is formulated to primarily bolster your pet's overall immune system health so his body can effectively deal with illnesses and diseases on its own. Additionally, this premium natural product helps reduce oxidative stress, provides antioxidant benefits, and supports vital systems of detoxification in the process.

Unlike human chemotherapy drug-based Trilostane and Mitotane, PIPTOPET does not trigger side effects like seizures, vomiting, and dips in blood sugar levels. If you're still having a tricky time zeroing in on a natural remedy for Cushing's disease in dogs, this premium product is one you should consider.


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

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