A Holistic Approach to Cushing’s Disease

holistic approach cushings disease boulderholisticvet blog post

Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) is a common hormonal imbalance in middle-aged and older dogs. It can be difficult to diagnose and can require harsh drugs to treat. Fortunately, I have seen much success with Cushing’s disease using diet and alternative therapies. If your dog has been diagnosed with Cushing’s, you can skip right to the treatment section of this article.

What is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s Disease or Hyperadrenocorticism occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Dogs have two adrenal glands located next to the kidneys. These glands are part of the hormonal system and produce substances such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. Cortisol is a natural hormone needed to keep the body balanced.

The adrenal glands may produce too much cortisol either because the pituitary gland (located in the brain) signals the overproduction or because the adrenal gland produces too much on its own accord.

How do I know if my dog has Cushing’s Disease

Many dogs will have very mild cases of Cushing’s Disease with little to no symptoms. If there are no bothersome symptoms or troubling lab values, a diagnostic workup is not indicated.

Here is a list of common symptoms that can become quite bothersome to both the dog and family:

Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased water consumption and urination
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Large (pendulous) belly
  • Increased tendency to ligament and tendon injury
  • Muscle loss

Diagnostic Tests

This is a tricky disease to diagnose definitively. The good news is that the battery of tests used to diagnose Cushing’s Disease are noninvasive. There is not agreement among the veterinary profession about the best way to diagnose Cushing’s Disease.

Below is a list of tests that are often used to make the diagnosis.

  • Complete Blood Count (elevated platelets, increased white cells)
  • Chemistry (liver enzymes)
  • Urinalysis (looking for protein)
  • Abdominal ultrasound (evaluate liver size and texture, evaluate adrenal gland size and check for adrenal tumors)
  • ACTH Stimulation Test (How do adrenal respond to hormone produced by pituitary gland)
  • Low Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test (Similar to the previous test, with different advantages and disadvantages)

How is Cushing’s Disease Treated?

Diet

I have seen many cases of Cushing’s Disease disappear with diet alone. It’s all about the reduction of carbohydrates. Unfortunately simply switching to a grain free kibble is rarely successful. This is because the nature of a kibble is high in carbohydrate. Grains are simply replaced by pea, potatoes or beans. Raw diets or grain free cooked diets have the highest rate of success. I would stick with a grain free formulation for raw and home cooked diets when possible.

Make sure that the diet you use is balanced for extended use. Pet food manufacturers are required to label their foods as balanced to AAFCO requirements for all life stages.

Herbs

This is one instance when Chinese Herbal medicine can be tremendously helpful. I use one formula, Si Miao San as a common starting point. This a Traditional Chinese herbal formula that eliminates Dampness (Traditional Chinese Medical Diagnosis) and has very few side effects.

In about 50% of my cases of Cushing’s Disease, a different or modified formula is required to help control symptoms. This is when you need a veterinarian trained in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. You can find a practitioner near you using the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society or The Chi Institute.

Supplements

There are two supplements that I think are worth using for every Cushing’s patient. Both of these involve balancing the bacteria in the gut.

  1. Nutrigest (Powder or Capsules). This is a great supplement that helps heal the digestive tract and promote beneficial but bacterial.
  2. Probiotics. There are many varieties available that help your pet’s digestive tract become more balanced. I like RxBiotic and Culturelle.
Western Treatment

Sometimes diet and herbs are not enough. In my ten years of practice, I have seen a few dogs that were refractory to these treatments and needed to use pharmaceuticals. Trilostane is the most current medication used to treat Cushing’s Disease. While it certainly is not natural, it can greatly help some of the symptoms that make dogs with Cushing’s Disease so miserable. So, if you need to use, please so. Your dog deserves to feel good.

Does your dog have Cushing’s Disease? Tell me how it’s going by commenting below.

Sending you and your pets lots of love!

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101 thoughts on “A Holistic Approach to Cushing’s Disease”

  1. Hello!
    My Shih Tzu was diagnosed with Cushings and for a year has been doing well on Vetoryl. Recently she has been getting drinks again during the night like she was when first diagnosed. Is she developing immunity? Other ideas for treating?
    Thank You!

    1. Hi Syndey,

      That is a tough one!

      I’m not sure if she’s developing immunity or if her condition is changing. What does your girl’s veterinarian think of the symptom re-emerging?

      Are you trying any of the holistic options mentioned here in Dr. Angie’s blog?

      Big hugs!
      Claire

  2. Hi, Is it possible for a two year old dog have Cushing’s? My girl has had a horrible itchy skin, aggressive, always hungry. Her new symptom is excessive drinking and urinating. This new symptom raised my concern immensely. Before I thought she had a yeast issue. Once I started researching she fits so many symptoms of cushings. I’m in search for a holistic vet in southeast Michigan. My vet charged me $200 for allergy pill and two shots.

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Anything is possible. Have you been successful in your search for a holistic vet in your area? What is your pup’s regular vet suggesting? Another potentially valuable person on your team may be a veterinary internal medicine specialist.

      Will you keep us posted?!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  3. My dog was just diagnosed with pituitary Cushing’s. I am heart broken. Though I can afford the medicine, I can’t afford the tests and their frequency. I am at a loss. He’s all I have and I can’t help him.

    1. Hi Kim,

      I am so so sorry!

      Is your veterinarian willing to help you treat him, and/or prioritize what tests are necessary (or not necessary) to help get treatment started?

      Have you searched for a holistic or integrative veterinarian to join your pup’s team as well?

      You are doing a great job, and I am sending you such big hugs.

      Love,
      Claire

  4. Jennifer Rae Winchel

    We’ve had issues with our lab since we got him at age 4. Constant skin infection, hes overweight, lazy as heck (unless there’s a tennis ball in the area) that has only gotten much worse as hes gotten older. Currently almost 8. We’ve spent over 15k in vet bills, meds, testing, shampoos, topical and special foods. We’ve been told it’s allergies and that’s it. Even went to a dermatologist. Nothing helped other than some immunotherapy for staph. Recently, due to him being put on cyclosporine, we had blood work done. Tests with weird liver numbers made the vet suggest, with everything else, he may ha e Cushings. Once I read about it, we check almost every single box. We can’t currently afford the testing required he takes Trilostane. We will try herbal remedies first and I will make him food to ensure we know exactly what hes eating. Any suggestion for a supplement to ensure he gets the nutrients he needs? Hes currently about 130 pounds. :/

  5. I am wondering if you are able to site any scientific studies to support the use of these treatments for dogs with Cushing’s disease?

    1. Hi Jen,

      That is an excellent question that I don’t know the answer to! I know that she has seen great success using these alternative therapies, but I will check in with Dr. Angie regarding scientific studies!

      Have you tried any of these treatments, and how did it go for your pup?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  6. What does a raw diet for cushingings disease consist of. Raw meat and vegetables? What exactly should I cook up for my dog on a daily basis. If I can control her simptums with a diet I’d rather do that then give her the chemo drugs.. Please advise. Thank you…

    1. Hi Pam,

      Thank you for reaching you!

      Yes, generally a raw diet for dogs consists of meat, veggies, and a often a carbohydrate source.

      There are many REALLY great commercial raw food diets on the market (like I and Love and You, Stella and Chewy, The Honest Kitchen.. to name a few!). You can also balance a home cooked diet using http://www.balanceit.com‘s website and supplement.

      I hope that this helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  7. I just discovered today that my dorkie (Dachsund/Yorkie) may have Cushings. He has all the symptoms. Fortunately I have only fed him grain free, all natural food for years. He is 13 now. Currently I cook beef liver and add brown rice & veggies. I don’t see liver on the list for protein on the natural diet website. I would think it would be great for them. Is it not? I am SO GLAD to have found this page!!!

  8. Melissa Dittmore

    Hi there! My 12 year old Boston terrier has pretty officially been diagnosed with Cushings. His cortisol count in his blood testing came out with no drops in the three draws they did, but with the ultrasound the6 decided it was enough to diagnose him. He is on Vetoryl as of today, I’m curious if any herbal supplements are not good to take with Vetoryl from what you have seen? Are they benefiting him with Vetoryl and the supplements or shou,d we focus on one or the other? Thanks!

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      If your pup is on Vetoryl, it may be worth sticking to his primary veterinarians recommendations, and looking for a holistic vet you can add onto his team as well! This way you can navigate both options together, it so hard to know what would be best for your pup without seeing him in person!

      Here are a few resources to use when searching for a local veterinarian:
      1) The Chi Institute (website here).
      2) Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (website here).

      I hope that this information is helpful! You are doing a great job!

      Warmly,
      Claire

      STICK W VETORYZ AND VET REC AND ADD HOZLISTIC BET

  9. Hi , I have my dog who has the high liver enzymes and showing a little low white blood cell too. They wanted to do more testing but it was making her worse all the pokes. I have her on Dr Harvey’s paradigm but I do add a little brown rice. A lot of liver diets recommend the rice to help with ammonia toxicity from the high liver enzymes? Just wanted your opinion? Maybe I should quit the rice ? Thank you! We also have her on milk thistle. Her eyes are off too. I’m hoping with the good nutrition and lowering of enzymes they might come back? Thanks

    1. Hi Debbie,

      This is such a tough question!

      High liver values are so nonspecific. It often depends on what values are elevated, along with a variety of other good information!

      If you haven’t yet, we usually recommend starting with a bile acids test and ultrasound. Adding a veterinary internal medicine specialist onto your pup’s team would be a great idea too, if possible!

      Please keep us posted!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  10. My dog has cushings and diabetes. She is 11 years old. She has been on Trilostane and Vetsulin for 6-7 weeks. Her ACTH stim test shows normal ranges. Her glucose is still high 300+. Low carb diet, lots of chicken. She is losing muscle still has panting spells, drinks and pees more than normal but better. I’m heartbroken. She was a wonderful dog and I want her to be comfortable. Not sure I am helping much however. Suggestions? Also using Adrenal Balance for the last week. Not really seeing a difference. She is starving all the time. Eats well.

    1. Hi Debbie,

      I know this is overwhelming and scary. I just want to start by telling you that you are doing an amazing job. It can be so difficult to navigate these diagnostics and treatments with an aching heart, and you are doing it! Big hugs.

      One suggestion, if you haven’t already, is to add a veterinary internist onto your girl’s team. Their knowledge may provide insight on how to best move forward. Another suggestion or option is to add an integrative vet onto your team, someone who may have a different perspective to add to your girl’s care.

      Big hugs to you and your sweet pup!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  11. I appreciate this entire post so much. My dog has every single symptom. And I am afraid to take him to the vet and be charged for tests and then put on medications. I am a believer in natural medicine. Are these things recommended to try without a vet visit? The diet, the herb and the digestive support and probiotics. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Karla,

      Is there a holistic or integrative veterinarian in your area who can help support you and your pup, and also support the holistic approach that you would like to take?

      A few areas to search for one:
      1) American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (website here) under “Find a Vet”.
      2) TCVM/The Chi Institute (website here) under “Resources”.

      I hope this helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  12. Terrie Critchfield

    My dog is almost 10 years old and has cushing and needs some help ,but I am on a shoestring budget ,what do you suggest?

    1. Hi Terrie,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      I’m so sorry that you are put in this tough situation! If you are able to address diet first, that would be great! None of the holistic approaches work as well without the diet change first! Ideally, removing carbohydrates and moving from kibble to canned would be a great first step!

      Will you keep us posted?

      Big hugs,
      Claire

  13. Hi – My dog was just diagnosed with Cushings. I tried trilostane and she couldn’t handle it. We took her off of it and she is doing OK. I decided to take the holistic approach. I ordered grain free dog food as you indicated above and melatonin and some treatment drops for Cushings.

    With a holistic approach, is there still a threat that she could go the other way and into and Addisonian crisis? I’m just wondering if we should still get her tested if we are going to treat her naturally…referring to the ACTH test.

    1. Hi Beth!

      There would likely not be a threat to your pup going into an Addisonian crisis while taking a holistic approach to treating your pup’s Cushing’s Disease.

      We would definitely recommend still testing and doing the ACTH stim test!

      Will you keep us posted?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  14. I have a Carin Terrier who was diagnosed 7 years ago. He has diabetes and is prone to pancreatitis. Right now he is on a raw diet. I supplement with Cush Away( ingredients based on Univ Tennessee study for
    Cushings treatment. Lignans, melatonin, and probiotics). I have started digestive enzymes as he has moved to muscle wasting and am looking for a way to help with weight gain.

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Baxter,

      Thank you for reaching out! It sounds like you are doing an amazing job with your pup.

      Have you added a veterinary internal medicine specialist onto your pup’s team? They may be a great asset!

      It also may be worth looking to see if there is a veterinarian in your area who practices Chinese medicine and/or holistic medicine, to add an alternative approach on for your pup (ie: Chinese herbs, etc).

      I usually recommend the following websites when searching for a practitioner in the area who practices Chinese medicine or holistic medicine:
      1) TCVM (under “resources”).
      2) American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (under “find a vet” tab).

      I hope that this information helps! Please keep us posted!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  15. My dog was recently on prednisone for pneumonia which triggered excessive panting. After reviewing his current symptoms and history, the vet believes he has Cushing’s. However he cannot be tested until 7 days free from the prednisone. He pants all day every day even in his sleep. The vet seemed to think this would get better as the steroids got out of his system but it hasn’t so far. I’m freaking out but everyone else just keeps telling me to wait it out. He seems absolutely miserable. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi Nora,

      I am so sorry to hear your sweet pup has pneumonia!

      How is he doing today?

      One symptom from steroid use can be excessive panting. That said, I know it’s alarming and it’s completely understandable that it makes you feel uncomfortable. How is he today?

      I would continue working with your regular veterinarian, and it also wouldn’t be wrong to get the opinion of an veterinary internal medicine specialist too.

      Big hugs – you are doing a great job! Keep us posted!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  16. Hi Dr. Angie,

    I believe my dog has Cushings. He had enlarged pituitary gland and adrenal glands, His urinalysis values for proteins were high and now we are looking to do a further test to confirm. For my dot, he is incredibly fear aggressive and terrified of the vet. So whatever solution has to be one that does not include a number of prolonged vet visits. I have asked my vet about holistic treatments as I had read a few articles mentioning Si Miao San. She advised she does not have the training to advise me in herbal medicine and encouraged me to seek the advice of a vet who is. She also warned me that supplements are not regulated so it is hard to know the values of various herbs in products. That said, I have found a product called Cush X which seems to have amazing reviews. Do you have any experience with this product? Do you know if it is helpful for bushin

    1. Hi Christi,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      Is there a mobile vet in your area who can come to your home to help with some of your pup’s veterinary care? Does he still display fear aggression in this scenario? Also, do you know if your veterinarian practices “Fear Free”? This is a new movement in the veterinary community that focuses on reducing fear and anxiety in animals during their veterinary visits. It doesn’t necessarily take away the fear aggression, however this type of clinic will have tools and protocols in place to support your dog as best they can while also ensuring he gets the best medical care possible.

      Chinese herbs are not regulated, so it is important to get these from a source you feel safe and comfortable with. Are there any holistic veterinarians in your area, or vets who practice Chinese medicine?

      I have not heard of Cush X, but will you keep us posted?

      You are doing such an amazing job!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  17. I have a 14.75 year old Bichon Lexie who was diagnosed with Cushings disease about 2+ years ago. Her ALP # has decreased from 4500 down to.800-900 and she no longer has the symptoms and is comfortable and plays like a much younger dog. I found a holistic veterinarian that prescribed the chinese herb, Si Maio San. He also told me to give her Answers Raw Fermented Goat Milk daily (made for dogs & probiotic) and that I should cook for her. I give her lean ground turkey or chicken mixed with Dr. Harvey’s super green mix “Paradigm” which is grain free. Lexie years ago was a pancreatic dog and also has gastric issues so she is currently taking RX Ursodial + recently added RX Benazapril due to slightly increased kidney levels and now those levels have come down within normal range. She is also on supplements Hepato, Nussentia Digestive Enzymes powder in food, Omega Benefits oil. The above routine has saved my dog and everyone can’t believe that she’ll be turning 15 in February. I have her bloodwork tested every 6 months, and urinalysis every 3 months to make sure her numbers are in line. Sharing Lexie’s story in hopes of helping others.

  18. He was on anabiotic’s for a while for skin infecti

    My dog has lost weight over the last year. His skin is dry & scaly. He eats well but sometimes drinks a lot. He was on anabiotic’s for a while for skin infection and it seem to help a little bit but he has lost weight & list patches of fur. He doesn’t itch or scratch he did have a hotspot for a while that was really bad but that healed. So I’m wondering if it’s Cushing’s and I don’t want to put him on any more prescription medication

    1. Hi there,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      Have you tried any of the holistic treatments recommended by Dr. Angie in this blog? Has your pup’s veterinarian done a work up to rule out (or confirm!) Cushings Disease? Is there a holistic veterinarian in your area who can join your pup’s team for an additional perspective and approach?

      Please keep us posted!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  19. Danny Connaughton

    Our 14.5 yr old mixed breed (terrier, collie, German Shepherd?) Lucy has shown some signs of Cushings in the past couple of months with symptoms including:

    – Frequent panting (particularly early evening) and trembling – but this has almost stopped in the past week or so.
    – Increased water consumption and urination
    – Achillees tendon problems (starting >2 yrs ago)
    – Increased hunger
    – Anxiety/mood changes
    – Raised liver enzymes Alk.P, ALT and Billirubin eg AlkP 593 (max normal=130), ALT 435 (max N=124). All OK July ’19.
    – 20% >max protein, 50% >max globulin plus other, smaller high readings NB Others not indicative eg white cells normal

    We noted some of symptoms soon after giving a daily turmeric capsule for 5 days for joint problems exacerbated by CCL operation in July. Note that she has been on a raw diet for ~2 years (which may explain her symptoms being mild?) and suffered from pancreatitis in the past.

    We plan to have bloods retested in ~3weeks’ time and probably urine too eg cortisol/creatinine, but my main queries are:

    1. The vet has advised that Cushings is difficult to diagnose (as Ive read) and mis-treatment can cause Addisons which is worse. If so, could that also be the case with natural treatments proposed on this site and others?
    2. The vet also believes that urine SG would be ~1.07 for Cushings whereas Lucy’s 1st-flow is 1.024. Is that so?
    3. Should we be concerned about turmeric in some reported natural remedies (for inflammation) bearing in mind the above?

    1. Hi Danny,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      Here are some answers to your questions:
      1) Cushings Disease can be difficult to diagnosis! Using the holistic options mentioned in this blog would not in and of itself cause Addisons.
      2) This is a difficult question to answer! It may be worth adding a veterinary internist onto Lucy’s team if you haven’t already. One thing to remember about USGs is that they are constantly changing!
      3) We wouldn’t be concerned about turmeric. I understand you said Lucy’s symptoms started after use. When and if you discontinued the turmeric, do the symptoms lessen or resolve?

      I hope this helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

      1. Danny Connaughton

        Many thanks for replying. In reply to your question about turmeric: As indicated earlier, the trembling became minimal ~5 weeks after starting (~4 weeks after stopping) turmeric. Note that I found internet info that turmeric could raise liver enzymes in ~5% of cases e.g. a lady whose enzymes took ~1 mth to fall back. Though the vet was unsure about a relationship between trembling and enzymes, it seems uncanny (Note that it’s also possible we overdosed Lucy with 1 turmeric capsule/day which is a human dose not for an average sized dog).

        However, as of today, I am DELIGHTED to report that all liver enzymes are back to normal except ALP which is slightly (<2%) over range and the test lab/vet believe that's clinically insignificant with no need for retests. The vet now thinks the problem may have been a viral infection (though I personally cannot discount the turmeric effect). Furthermore, she has ruled out Cushings based on the urine SG being ~1.024 again.

        Had we not got today's good news and following your positive reply in (1), I may have tried the Si Miao San and/or gut supplements in the blog and/or liver support supplements e.g. SAMe or Denamarin, before a 3rd liver enzyme test after ~1-2 months – or wait to see if her condition continues. For my records, would you recommend trying 1 herb/supplement at a time (so as not to overload the liver) and, if so, in which order? Obviously I wont now act on your advice personally at the present time following the latest results but maybe another reader would find your reply useful (or me if CD is diagnosed in future).

          1. Danny Connaughton

            Hi Claire
            Many thanks. Not sure what helped Lucy’s enzymes recovery – the only thing “treatment” we’ve applied is a few 24h fasts (Lucy doesnt like!) to give the liver and pancreas a break.
            We will continue to monitor her symptoms eg some minor mood changes noted, but no plans to redo any bloods, particularly as she hates the vets! We’ll surely keep you posted, as appropriate.

            Have a great festive period & keep up the good work!

            Best Regards
            Danny

  20. Our 8-3/4 year old dog Penny was diagnosed with Cushing’s a little over a year and a half ago. We have been giving her Trilostane which seemed to get everything under control. I actually suspected Cushing’s was her issue but we didn’t do the blood tests for a couple of months. First we ruled out diabetes. We give her a diet consisting of either a turkey, pork, chicken thigh meatloaf (before we did mostly chicken breast) or salmon as protein. After recent research on her need for certain amino acids, I added the meatloaf concoction to add Taurine and Arginine to her diet. We then add either pumpkin or sweet potato and green beans, broccoli or peas. We used to give her egg and also add yogurt but now she won’t eat them. Our concern now is that she has lost a lot of weight and we want find out how we can put some of it back on safely. We have been getting her blood tested on a regular basis. We have not had a scan. Also, her water intake has decreased. Some of her issues with the water I think are do to the fact that we recently got a kitten who wants to be with her for everything. We separate them when we feed them now because it appeared to disturb her. Her spirits are good and her energy level seems normal. She is always up for her 1.5 mile plus walks sometimes two times a day. Her coat has also changed drastically. It used to be sleek, shiny and short. Now, it is fluffy and dull, but still soft. Are there any suggestions that you may have for helping her gain weight and perhaps bringing a shine back to her coat?

    1. Hi Judy,

      It sounds like you are doing an absolutely AMAZING job! It’s not always easy creating a balanced diet in situations like this, so very well done!

      Have you confirmed that the your girl’s daily caloric intake matches what she should be receiving? Does your veterinarian have any thoughts on why she isn’t gaining weight, or whether a 3rd meal in the day may help?

      Is she on omegas? This can sometimes help with the coat!

      Please keep us posted.

      Big hugs,
      Claire

  21. Our 9 year old Sheltie has been diagnosed with a functional adrenal tumor that is causing Cushings. He does drink more water than average and pants some, but otherwise is doing fine. The ultrasound also confirmed that he has a classic mucocele in his gall bladder. Of course, we are very sad/worried for him. He is also began taking thyroid medicine for a hypothyroid condition.

    In consulting with my vet, we feel what is best for him is to not do surgery on the adrenal tumor. Mostly like remove his gall bladder, but I’d be interested in knowing if there is a holistic approach to try 1st. Because he currently does not have symptoms that are causing him distress, we were taking a wait and see approach on medicinally treating cushings.

    Are the supplements, herbs, and diet changes you describe in this article ok to pursue with his thyroid, gallbladder, adrenal tumor issues? Is there additional information you can point me to that address the other conditions.

    My reluctance to try treatments that are more invasive are me not wanting to introduce treatment that lowers his current quality of life. We understand that if the tumor is malignant, then his prognosis is not good. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the average survival time after a Cushings diagnosis is two years, with about 10 percent living beyond four years. My goal is to give him the best quality life we can without causing him to deteriorate with the side effects of the traditional drugs used to treat cushings.

    If we see a TCVM practitioner, will she/he be able to deal with all his conditions?

    Your thoughts are much appreciated. Thank you – Sue

    1. Hi Sue,

      Thank you for reaching out! You are doing an amazing job caring for your pup. Way to go!

      You can certainly pursue the supplements However, it may not be necessary at this time if no symptoms are present!

      Whether the TCVM practitioner can address all conditions will really depend on the practitioner themselves. However, I am absolutely hopeful that you can find someone who can cover all of your boy’s conditions.

      Will you keep us posted?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  22. my jack Russell Dodger is 12 going 13 and he was diagnosed with cushings back in march-april 2019. He has been taking the vets prescribed meds but I would like a more holistic/natural way to treat my fur baby. I see a lot of useful information and I will start making his food from scratch with lean meats and some of the natural herbs listed in this article. He is always famished and eats anything he can find. its depressing to watch him search for food all day every day. I just want to help him as much as I can. Thank you for any information that will help me help him.

  23. Denise Munsterman

    I just got a diagnose of Cushings but he does not have much in the way of symptoms. He does drink water and pee a bit more but usually goes all night. The vet is not recommending any treatment at this time but I am hoping we can find a way to keep it from getting worse with holistic approach.

  24. My 11 year old Norfolk terrier or similarly cute terrier mix started begging for food 1.5 years ago and in the last month, is drinking a lot more water than normal (seems to be drinking about 1 cup – 1.25 cup/ a day). The begging is most concerning to me because it’s irritating to me and if I feed him as much kibble as he wants, he’ll have to poop in the middle of the night which means a 3 AM dog walk. As all of you are, I’m also concerned for my dogs comfort and health.

    I intend to treat any old age diseases he may be developing with alternative therapies that I learn about. I’ve begun to supplement with a few pieces of cooked zucchini, few pieces of broccoli, canned pumpkin, egg yolk or whole egg, 1 mg melatonin per day, 1 tsp to 2 tsp ground flax (is that sufficient for lignans??), cookied turkey, chicken, or rarely beef, whole milk goat yogurt, 1/2 capsule of probotics. Along with these supplements, I’m feeding Wellness Healthy Weight -turkey/brown rice, at about 1/3 cup total per day (water mixed into the dry kibble). I’m feeding tiny portions about 4-6 little portions per day. He seems to beg less with the additional supplements, especially the vegetables. I’ll continue to add whatever supplements I find to manage what I suspect could be cushings or possibly diabetes?

    My vet has not evaluated him for cushings yet, but if I knew a local vet experienced in alternative treatments for aging dogs- I’d consult with them. I’m likely to try the Chinese remedy Si Miao San along with the herbs burdock, milk thistle, gingko biloba (testing these out during the weekends when I can detect any digestive side effects). Can you recommend which single herbs may be most useful to address is current thirst, begging, and likely underlying issues? Also, if I don’t plan to treat him traditionally for cushings, is there a particularly good diagnostic test that’s cost effective to do, if knowing what he’s got helps my plan?

    Apart from the recent thirst and begging issues, my dog was recently treated for an ulcer he developed from long term Carprofen/anti-inflamatory for arthritis (I’ve discontinued that medication now because of the ulcer). He also has seasonal fall allergies which I’ve managed with Benedryl and small doses of predisone when itching is severe. My dog has been on the chubby side, about 19 lbs. He lost 2 lbs several months ago when I switched him to mainly chicken and vegetables. (That was before the experimental diet I have going above).

    I’m very open to any insights you may offer. I won’t buy CBD products at the moment- because of career issues/legalities now.

    1. Hi Sara,

      These are all great questions.

      You can absolutely use your veterinarian’s traditional diagnostic testing to rule out (or confirm!) Cushing’s Disease. Western diagnostics can be extremely helpful in identifying what’s going on, and utilized in the creating of a holistic or integrative plan.

      It’s hard to know which of the herbs would be recommended first for your pup! Is there a veterinarian in your area who practices holistic or Chinese medicine? We always suggest starting with one at a time to see how your pet responds before adding additionals in.

      I hope that this helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  25. Is Cushing’s in dogs the same as Cushing’s/PPID in horses? How would you recommend proceeding with herbs for an older horse with Cushing’s/PPID? He doesn’t have a problem with insulin/glucose, as I’ve kept him on a relatively low-carb diet, but the bloodwork says that he definitely has Cushing’s. Thank you!

  26. Hi I have a very sick girl at home whom I suspect may have cushings, my question is do the fur kids have to have all the symptoms to be diagnosed?

  27. Beverley LaBrosse

    My 10 yr, old furbaby, Mowgli, has been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. He has no symptoms, and I will not be treating him with the dangerous drugs. I have gone to a Vet who was trained at the Chi Institute. She has prescribed a Chinese herbal supplement and a raw, high protein diet. Hopefully this treatment will make him comfortable for a long time. Anyone have experience with Cushing’s and/or this type of treatment?

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Beverley,

      Yes, Dr. Angie has absolutely seen Cushing Disease respond to both diet and Chinese herbs (she also studied at the Chi Institute!).

      I hope you’re able to utilize the thoughts and tips in our blog, to help Mewgli.

      Please keep us posted!

      Hugs,
      Claire

  28. My cat (8 yo, male) just got diagnosed with adrenal dependent cushing’s. Both his adrenals are enlarged. The vet has started him on vetoryl.
    The hospital here in CT have never done removal of both adrenals in cats. And are not really recommending surgery.

    I have been researching but there isn’t a lot of info available for cats with cushing’s. Are there resources you would recommend for holistic remedies and any hospitals in northeast US that may have the experience in feline cushing’s.

    Thanks!

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Sushama,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      I am so sorry to hear about your kitty’s Cushing’s diagnosis. Dr. Angie has also never seen a kitty with Cushings! Her recommendation would be to visit either a veterinary internist or a teaching hospital.

      I hope this helps, and keep us posted!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  29. We would like to switch to cooking our dogs’ food rather than purchasing ready made. Do you have any recipe recommendations to support liver function and make sure the dog is getting the right nutrients? Thank you!

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Anne,

      Great question!

      We refer most folks over to http://www.balanceit.com. This website will help you create a balanced home cooked diet, and they even have recipes specifically for different medical conditions. Here is a blog, where Dr. Angie goes over how to utilize the website.

      I hope this helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  30. James Zimmerman

    My beautiful fur baby Nigel, the light of my life, went to a vet for advice and they told me most likely it is Cushing’s, I kind of knew doing my own research. He has every symptom unfortunately he is quite thirsty, he was restless especially at night he has a potbelly, the hair around his neck is rather thick, he hasn’t lost hair and doesn’t show any abnormal urination but pants very much!! Instantly I did major research and started him on a regimented CBD plan. Not everybody agrees with this but I have seen amazing results!!! Being torn on decisions for your fur baby is difficult. The description of the vet’s opinion on treatment sounded very painful and very very dark, I just can’t afford that crazy amount of money plus I just can’t put my boy thru that especially since the Vet said it might not even work. I’m looking to soften some of his other issues like the panting, so in another article I read that melatonin is good and flaxseed oil helps but I am reaching out to you… to give me the best advise or maybe a few pointers to help my boy and I thru… The sad party is he also lost his vision within this last year. Also I’ve heard about stuff like Cush-X or Cushex, if you have heard or if anybody has heard about this please give me some feedback. I cry myself to sleep singing my boy to sleep every night.. He is my life, the most important thing in the whole world! I tell him I wish I could trade some of my human years for his dog years but unfortunately that’s not how life works. I know I ramble but I love him so….
    ~ James ~

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi James,

      I am so sorry to hear how hard this new diagnosis has been for both you and Nigel. I know that our pets are our family, and news like this is big and overwhelming. It sounds like you are doing an incredible job!

      We have heard of using Melatonin with Cushings Disease, however Dr. Angie has not tried it. If you try it, will you keep us posted on how it helps? She has not used Flaxseed oil.

      I hope Dr. Angie’s blog discussing her approach to Cushing’s Disease is helpful, and that you are able to find a plan that supports both you nd Nigel!

      Big hugs!
      Claire

  31. Our 12 lb poodle was diagnosed with atypical cushings. He had the big belly, lost weight so that he was skin and bones. He lost a lot of hair and had sores on his belly. He did poorly on Trilostane so our vet said not to treat him at all. We said that was NOT an option so we took him to the U of MN Veterinary School where they put him on melatonin and flax oil with lignans. He recovered 110%!!

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Marilyn,

      Wow! This is an INCREDIBLE story!

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  32. i have a 9 yr old yorkie poo who was recently diagnosed with Cushings, they put her on Vetoryl. Can i use culturelle along with it? How much do I give her, she weighs 15 lbs. I believe she has had this for a very long time but was not diagnosed until I got a different doctor at the same practice. She is also eating Royal Canin Urinary SO due to bladder stones. Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Diane!

      Yes, you should absolutely be able to use Culturelle. For your pup, a good place to start is 1/2 capsule once daily.

      I hope this helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  33. Lori Beckelman

    I give my dog The Gift of Life supplement, Would it be safe to give him Si Miao San as well, or should I stop The Gift of LIfe? Thank you very much.

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Lori,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      We are not familiar with the Gift of Life supplement.

      If you try them together, will you keep us posted on how they help your pup?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  34. My dog has Cushings. He pants, is thirsty and has leg weakness and just began limping. Would melatonin help him? If so, where do I buy it and what mg for a 15-pound dog? Thanks.

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Joline!

      We have heard some reports of Melatonin helping pups with Cushings, but Dr. Angie has never used it specifically. If you try it, will you keep us posted on how it helps?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  35. My 12 year-old mixed-breed guy was diagnosed recently with Cushings Disease. He is a mix of beagle, Jack Russell or Fox terrier, and maybe Pointer. He definitely shows the symptoms, but I am leary to try the conventional treatments. My vet recommended a low-protein senior food, but that seems to be opposite of what would be best. I don’t feel that I can spend the time cooking all of my dog’s food right now, so am considering purchasing grain-free food, as you recommend. Would you be willing to recommend some brands of food? I am also plannng to try the Chinese herbs, and am considering melatonin. Do you have any recommendations about that idea? Also: My dog’s liver values have gone up since his initial diagnosis about 3 months ago and the change in diet. We had tried Denamarin for 2 1/2 months, and only saw liver values go up. Should we continue the Denamarin, or drop it?
    Thank you so much for any advice!

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for reaching gout!

      Some of the brands that we like include I & Love & You, Wellness, Orijin and Fromm.

      Do you have a holistic veterinarian in your area who also practices TCM and can help identify a good Chinese herb specifically for your pup? Check out the Chi Institute’s website here, to search for veterinary practitioners in your area! They are a great resource!

      I hope that this helps! Please keep us posted on your little guy!

      Big hugs,
      Claire

  36. My 13 year old Westie Jax was diagnosed with Cushing disease. We went through all the tests to be sure. He was put on vetoryl 30 mg. On day 3 he was so sick, shaking , vomiting, panting., weakness. Rushed to vet . Took him off this chemical, and the vet now has him on Chinese ophiopogon formula. I’m not seeing much of an improvement after 4 weeks. We did do a acth test after 3 weeks and the vet wants him to continue on these herbs. My question is how long does it take before I see improvement ? Thanks

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Suzy,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      Generally, you will see a response within 4-6 weeks.

      Will you keep us posted?!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  37. My dog was just confirmed to have Cushings and we are going to start her on Vetoryl. It was me that looked up her symptoms and then requested the test for Cushings. I’d taken her to the vet over the last year for skin conditions and they’d mentioned her weight gain, but nothing else. I’d bought the shampoo and did skin wipes of chlorhexidine. She was given 3 lots of antibiotics for the skin, to no avail. Then she was put on thyroid meds, twice a day, even though her thyroid levels are just below normal levels. I don’t understand why my vet didn’t pick up on any of the symptoms for Cushings based on her weight and skin problems, she’d put on 12lbs. Anyway, I don’t want to keep her on Vetory for a long time, I would like to go the natural route if possible. I already feed my dogs raw and canned food and the Cushing’s dog gets a little dry food too, which I will now stop. I would appreciate any other information, if that’s possible regarding this condition. It’s no use talking to my vets about diet, as they will usually recommend Science Diet and I will not have anything to do with that company. I very much any and all information that anyone has to offer.

    Thank you,

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Victoria,

      It sounds like you are an amazing advocate for your sweet pup, and taking excellent care of her!

      Dr. Angie uses the protocol mentioned in the blog for patients in her practice with Cushings.

      Will you keep us posted on how your pup does?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  38. Hello,
    Our 11 year old Mini Poodle got hungrier and hungrier until he was eating poop and always licking his bowl and the floor. Then he started peeing massive amounts in the house and then he started getting skin lesions and losing weight. He was diagnosed with a likely pituitary tumor caused Cushings. We have started using Trilostane as we didn’t know there were any alternative treatments. So far he has stopped peeing in the house and is gaining weight but he is still super hungry all the time. Can we add natural supplements on top of the Trilostane? We also want to start making their food as much as possible.
    Thank you so much for making this information available!!!
    Ananda

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      H Ananda!

      Thank you for reaching out!

      You can absolutely use the same supplements that Dr. Angie recommends in this blog!

      For a home cooked diet, we recommend http://www.balanceit.com. They will help you formulate a home cooked diet personalize for your pup, that is balanced with all the necessary vitamins and minerals!

      I hope this helps – please keep us posted!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  39. My labradoodle was diagnosed with Cushing’s last September. Her symptoms were drinking more water and panting. The vet put her on Vetoryl and her cortisol levels came back down. Now, 7 months later, she has lost weight which is most likely due to muscle loss and she is very stiff when rising. I can tell that she has become very boney. She is a picky eater, as well. I continue to experiment supplemental aids for her but not too sure how well they are working. They don’t seem to assist with her stiffness, but then again they maybe slowing her digression. I’ve had her on cbd oil, mushroom complex and green lipped mussel. Wondered if Boulder Holistic pre and probiotic supplements mentioned above might help, but didn’t know if these are okay to supplement with Vetoryl. Thank you. Joanne

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Joanne,

      These are great questions!

      Dr. Angie loves probiotics, and they may very well be worth trying! We’ve not seen any issue with giving them in conjunction with Vetoryl.

      Will you keep us posted? You are doing a great job!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  40. My 11 year old boxer male was recently diagnosed with Cushings. The local vet does not have any other dogs in treatment and not sure if experienced. She is calling a larger city (we are rural) to see about costs and experience. I started him on an adrenal supplement with minimal improvement but after reading comments, he may have needed to been on them for longer. I started giving him melatonin 2mg twice daily and what a difference. He is not panting, seems to feel better and is not drinking or peeing as much. His back legs seem to not bother him as much. He weighs 75#. I have ordered the flaxseed lignans and am waiting on delivery. At this point in time, I prefer to try a holistic approach to his treatment. Am curious about colloidal silver to help keep infection away.

    1. Jacquie Edie, Veterinary Nurse for BHV

      Hi Deby,

      Thank you for your comment on Dr. Angie’s Cushing’s Disease blog!

      I’m so glad to hear that your boxer is experiencing fewer symptoms with the use of melatonin! Dr. Angie doesn’t usually use melatonin for treatment of Cushing’s so it is interesting to hear of your success in using it for your guy. Thanks for sharing! Flaxseed lignans will provide a good source of fiber and may be beneficial for your dog’s gut health. It may also help with the condition of his skin and coat. Dr. Angie doesn’t typically use colloidal silver in practice. When giving orally it has been shown to build up in the body tissues and may become toxic. We have however had some guardians apply it topically to wounds and felt that it helped prevent infection.

      I’m curious as to what adrenal supplement you tried? There are several on the market with various active ingredients. It can be difficult to know if it was the supplement itself that didn’t work or if it wasn’t given for long enough of a duration to take effect. Some supplements can often take 8-12 weeks to take effect. You may consider the Chinese herbal supplement Si Miao San as mentioned in the blog. Do you think you might try some of the other suggestions from the blog such as diet or probiotics?

      Please keep us posted and let us know if you have any other questions!

      Warmly,
      Jacquie

  41. Our dog was just diagnosed but she doesn’t have any symptoms. Is it worth trying the supplements and changing her diet? Her current vet just want to monitor her for any symptoms before putting on medication. Thoughts??

    1. Hi there!

      Dr. Angie would tend to agree that treatment isn’t necessary without symptoms. That said, all of diet changes discussed in the blog are great for overall health!

      Keep us posted!

  42. My 8 Year Old Boy was diagnosed with cushings a few months ago. After a hard year of an unmanagable diagnosis of diabetes we have now added trilostane to his list of meds and so far from what I have noticed (symptom wise) it doesnt seem to be helping all that much. He lost eye sight in his left eye rather quickly (normal to full blindness within a month) shortly after the cushings diagnosis and now the other eye is failing quickly too. It has been heartbreaking trying everything imaginable and feeling like hes still deteriorating. I am currently researching to change him over to a raw diet and he has a follow up schedule to retest his ACTH and reasses his trilostane dose. My boy means the world to me and to feel like hes suffering without much relief has been extremely overwhelming for me. This article was helpful and I am thankful I stumbled upon it. With fingers crossed, I am going to try some of the things mentioned to hopefully get my best friend some relief.

    1. Hi Heather,

      Your boy is SO lucky to have you advocating for him!

      We are so, so glad that you found this article to be helpful – please keep us posted! Lots of love to you and your sweet boy!

      1. Hi, I have cushings afflicted baby too. I decided to go the holistic route from the beginning.
        I used the flax and melatonin treatment which worked great for about a year. It controlled symptoms. It stopped working about 2 months ago. I am researching a new holistic treatment now. Grain free food is good. High protein is helping as well.

        1. I’m doing like 4 supplements abd my senior lab is starting to bounce back. He’s been on natural balance limited ingredient diet for years but after being on steroids so long it sent him into cushings. He’s responding to melatonin twice a day, flax seed hulls given in yogurt as a snack once a day, milk thistle twice a day, cbd oil once a day, and phosphatidyl-serine given with hard boiled eggs once a day.

          1. Jacquie Edie, Veterinary Nurse for BHV

            Hi,

            I am so sorry to hear that your lab developed Cushing’s from steroids. I’m so glad that you found a regimen that works to regulate your guy! Thanks for sharing!

            Jacquie

        2. Ronald Wardynski

          We think are dog has it to but will know for sure in a few days. I like what read by you. Can you tell me more about flax and melatonin and how used. We love our boy and are willing to try anything to help.

          Thank Ron

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