Does My Dog Have A Skin Allergy, Cushing’s Disease, Or Worse?

by tessa

Over the last 6 months Annie (pictured at right) has been in, what we thought, was a simple aggravating battle with skin allergies. Just another annoying case of dog allergies that often plague our pets, right?

Her symptoms at various times were:

  • chewing herself, primarily around her rump
  • dandruff which would not be washed away
  • skin pustules: small round spots all over her back that would flake, turn red, and then potentially bleed and get infected
  • increased water intake
  • increased food intake
  • abdominal enlargement

We explored solutions that included:

  • testing her diet for allergic reactions by eliminating treats, canned food and dry kibble and moving to a rice and ground turkey diet
  • periodic treatments with prednisone – steroids
  • ten day doses of Cipro – antibiotic
  • medicated shampoos

While most of these provided some form of temporary relief, none of these resulted in sustainable solutions to Annie’s problems.

Shortly after the loss of our Golden Retriever we decided to get more aggressive with finding out what was causing these outbreaks.

Annie was taken to a veterinary practice that specialized in animal dermatology and was given a blood workup, to check liver value, along with biopsies of 3 of the skin sores. The results showed signs of Cushing’s disease. As a follow up, and to confirm the diagnosis, an ACTH Stimulation Test was performed.

This lead to a positive diagnosis for Cushing’s disease.

In order to identify whether the disease was caused by a tumor on the adrenal gland, 20% of cases, or over secretion of ACTH by the pituitary gland, 80% of cases, additional testing was required. There are a number of possible tests including an abdominal ultrasound to determine the size of both of the adrenal glands and to compare the glands against each other.

Abdominal ultrasound is helpful in three respects. First, it is a good test to evaluate all of the abdominal organs in the dog. Secondly, it is used to study the size and shape of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands in pituitary dependent Cushing’s are usually normal in size or enlarged. If a tumor is present however, one adrenal gland is often abnormally large or of uneven shape. Finally, if a tumor is suspected, ultrasound can help identify any metastasis to other organs.

In Annie’s case the ultrasound had good news…..and bad.

The good news was that the root cause of the disease was not based on a tumor on her adrenal gland.

The bad news is that during the ultrasound a mass was detected on her spleen

Splenic tumors are treated as a fairly serious condition as the spleen can rupture due to the mass and causes massive bleeding. This meant Annie would need immediate surgery to have her spleen removed, a splenectomy.

The operation was complicated as the mass had grown in a star shaped pattern over and around her spleen. The fortunate news is that no other organs appeared to be affected by the mass.

The patient is resting comfortably as we nervously await the results of the biopsy that was performed on the mass to determine if it will be benign or malignant.

All dog owners are recommended to have their dogs properly evaluated by veterinary professional for root causes to allergy symptoms. What may appear to be one heath issue related to dog allergies may reveal another issue that may save your dogs life.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dog rescue March 4, 2016 at 1:53 PM

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