This past year two of my friends' dogs' were diagnosed with Cushing's disease. Sadly, one friend lost her dog to the disease after just a few months. My other friend is working to manage Cushing's disease in her dog, helping her dog get through it while maintaining as much quality of life for him as possible. Cushing's Disease in dogs isn't an automatic death sentence, there are treatments available. However, it's not that simple and there doesn't appear to be an actual "cure". 

Treatment options depend on which type of Cushing's disease a dog has. Treatment for Cushing's in most cases relies on providing dogs with medication to control the symptoms of the disease, rather than providing an actual cure.

Watching my friends go through the anguish of Cushing's disease with their dogs really rattled me. Both friends' dogs' were senior dogs and my Husky, Icy, is 13 years old. So at Icy's next Veterinary visit I asked about Cushing's and expressed my concern about it.

Cushing's Disease in Dogs
My precious dog Icy. I always worry about her health!

Our Vet explained what Cushing's disease was, and that there are two main different types of Cushing's disease that dogs get. She discussed the symptoms of Cushing's disease in dogs. She also informed me that it typically effects middle aged and senior dogs.

At my request, our Veterinarian did a full blood panel on Icy. I was relieved when she reported back several days later, that nothing in Icy's bloodwork indicated she might have Cushing's. Whew! When it comes to my girl Icy, I am a serious worry-wart! I take no chances when it comes to her health. 

I've learned a lot about Cushing's disease in dogs, and I want to share that information with you here. So let's jump in.

What Is Cushing's Disease In Dogs?

Cushing's disease in dogs, also known as Hyperadrenocorticism, is due to the overproduction of the cortisol hormone, which is produced by the adrenal glands. There are two types of Cushing's disease in dogs.

Two Main Types of Cushing's Disease Effect Dogs

There are two main types of Cushing's disease in dogs.  Pituitary-Dependent Cushing's disease and Adrenal-Dependent Cushing's disease. 

Pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease 

Occurs when there is a tumor in the dog's pituitary gland, a pea sized gland at the base of the brain. The tumor causes a dog's body to produce excess amounts of Cortisol. Medication can be prescribed to inhibit the production of cortisol.

Adrenal-dependent Cushing's disease 

Is caused by a tumor on one of the dog's adrenal glands, that causes the dog's body to produce excess amounts of Cortisol. In the case of Adrenal-dependent Cushing's disease you can surgically remove the tumor on the affected adrenal gland, but if the tumor has spread this surgery may not be feasible for your dog. If surgery can't be performed, medication to control the symptoms may be the best treatment option for the dog.

It is possible to remove the adrenal tumor if the Cushing's disease is adrenal-dependent and the tumor hasn't spread. However, it may not cure the disease. But it can usually extend the dog's life by a year or more. The surgery is complex and there are risks. Some dog owners, together with their Veterinarian, choose to treat with medication instead.

Symptoms of Cushing's Disease in Dogs

The below symptoms may mean that your dog is suffering from Cushing's disease:

Symptoms of Cushing's Disease in Dogs
Symptoms of Cushing's Disease in Dogs

If you see these typical Cushing's symptoms in your dog, contact your Veterinarian right away and bring your dog in for an exam.

How is Cushing's Disease diagnosed in dogs?

To provide a diagnosis of Cushing's disease in your dog, your Vet will likely start with the following:

> Bloodwork

> Urinalysis to measure amounts of Cortisol in the urine

> Abdominal Ultrasound to see if adrenal gland enlargement or any tumors are present

Cushing's disease is something that will stay keenly on my radar. I'll watch carefully for any of the potential symptoms of Cushing's in my dog.


You can find more detailed information about Cushing's disease in dogs on PetMd's web site 

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Although it is estimated that more than half of dogs in the U.S. have been microchipped, there are still many people who wonder whether or not they should microchip their dog. Microchipping your dog is a permanent way to identify your dog as belonging to you, and is one of the best ways for your dog to be returned to you if they get lost.  As an animal shelter volunteer for 8 years, I can attest to the importance and success of microchipping dogs (and cats!) In this post I'll share the benefits and cost of microchipping a dog, and why I feel so strongly about dogs being microchipped.


Why Microchip Dogs?

Should You Microchip Your Dog? 

In my opinion, the statistics in the above graphic alone should make any dog owner want to run and get their dog microchipped!  

When I was volunteering at the animal shelter, it was always so heart-wrenching when a sweet, adorable dog arrived with no identification. Collars and tags can break off, and frightened dogs can suddenly become little Houdini's, wriggling out of collars or harnesses!  In addition, a dog's ID tags and collars can be inadvertently removed by someone, or become worn out and unreadable over time.

If there isn't a tag with updated (readable) contact information associated with him, the dog is scanned for a microchip at the shelter. If there are no tags and no microchip on the dog, there is no way to identify the owner. Shelter staff have to hope an owner makes their way to the shelter on their own in search of their missing dog.

It's a heartbreak when you can't identify a dog's owner, and a joy when you can. Once a dog ends up at a shelter, there are only a few short days before the dog is put up for adoption if the owner isn't found.  Would you want to take that risk with your furbaby? I know I wouldn't.  All my dogs and cats have been microchipped and wear ID tags. Pets should have both!

What Is Microchipping A Dog? 

Microchipping a dog entails a Veterinarian or other qualified pet health individual inserting a tiny chip, about the size of a grain of rice underneath the skin, usually between the shoulder blades.  A microchip for dogs is a permanent way to identify and link your dog to you. Having your dog microchipped could mean the difference between your lost (or even stolen) dog being returned to you, or ending up as someone else's pet.  

How Do Microchips Work In Dogs? 

The microchip, a tiny chip the size of a grain of rice, is permanently inserted into your pet using a syringe, placed just under their skin. Each chip has a unique identification number that links your pet to the information you provide at the time you register your dog's chip with the microchip manufacturer, or other pet microchip registration.

Microchipping dogs is a simple procedure requiring No anesthesia or incision. It can be done during a routine Veterinary visit in just a few minutes. It's as quick & easy as getting vaccinated.

BENEFITS AND COST OF MICROCHIPPING A DOG   What is microchipping a dog?
Microchipping permanently links your dog to you

Loose skin between the shoulder blades is pulled up, and a needle is inserted. The applicator trigger is squeezed, injecting the microchip into the tissue. This procedure doesn't cause your dog pain or discomfort, they won't even know it's there! Microchips are non-toxic, so your dog shouldn't experience any allergic reaction once the chip is implanted.

Keeping your dog's profile up to date with your current contact information is critical. When a veterinarian or shelter finds a lost or missing dog, they can use a scanner to read their chip. They can then contact the microchip company's recovery service informing them that they have located a lost pet that has one of their chip's implanted. The chip company will then contact the dog owner and facilitate reuniting them with their dog.

Can Microchipped Dogs Be Tracked? 

No, a microchip isn't a tracking device or GPS. Microchips use Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology enabling the chip to be scanned, using a microchip reader. The microchip stores the chip manufacturer's contact information and information that enables that dog owner to be identified and notified by the chip's recovery team.  A microchip by itself can't figure out your dog's location if they get lost. Someone needs to locate your dog, have him scanned for a microchip, and read the contact information stored on the microchip, which leads to the dog's safe return.

How long does a microchip last in a dog?

A microchip should last the life of your dog, whether you have them microchipped as a puppy or an adult dog. 

People often ask, What is the best age to microchip a dog?  A dog can be microchipped at virtually any age, from a puppy (about 8 weeks old) to a senior dog. No matter when you have your dog microchipped, the important thing is to have it done! It's never too late to get dogs microchipped - as long as your dog's Veterinarian doesn't think your particular dog has any medical reason why your dog shouldn't be chipped.  I've never heard of that happening, but you should always check with your Veterinarian whenever you make changes that concern your dog.

How Can I Find Out Where To Microchip Dogs Near Me? 

You can have your dog microchipped in a variety of places. Your Veterinarian is the first logical place to contact. You can also contact your community's animal shelters and see if any of them offer pet microchipping services at a lower cost.  Several retail pet supply stores offer both vaccinations and microchipping for pets. 

Your puppy or dog may already have a microchip. Many puppy breeders, animal shelters and rescues have begun microchipping their puppies and dogs, or offering it as a service. It's very important to note that although a chip has been implanted in the dog you're bringing home, you are usually responsible for contacting the microchip company's pet registry and providing them with your contact information. Don't skip this step! A microchip is useless without your contact information attached to it.

You can also use a separate microchip registry service. You may want to do this if, for example, the microchip company charges a registration fee you don't wish to pay. Search online for free pet microchip registries, but beware of scam sites! Make sure they are legitimate. I heard from one rescue group that is a legitimate free pet microchip registry.

How Much Does It Cost To Microchip A Dog? 

The price of microchipping dogs can range depending on where you have it done. From what I've seen, most Veterinarians will charge anywhere from $25 to $75.  Some pet supply retailers, such as Petco, have Veterinary clinics and offer this service at select store locations as well. However, your pet usually needs to be a patient of theirs.  The Petco near us charges $55 to microchip a dog, and the dog must be a patient of theirs and the dog must also have a Vet exam at the same time, so the cost of the microchip visit is considerably higher! PetSmart offers microchipping as well through their in-store Banfield Veterinary clinics, but I don't have pricing information for them.

How To Find Low Cost Microchipping For Dogs and Cats 

There are a number of places you should be able to find low cost microchipping for your dog.  I have seen these range from about $15 to $25.  In my area of South Florida one animal rescue organization charges $25, and one in the next county charges $20.  I searched and found that Los Angeles Animal Services Centers in California charges about $15. They sometimes offer free microchipping as a special event. You can search online for "low cost microchipping in [your county, town, or city name]".

Free microchipping events may not be given year round, but many areas offer free microchips for pets at various times throughout the year.  Try searching online for "free microchipping clinics near me" or "free microchipping in [your county, town, or city name].  You may find one or more free microchipping events happening in your area.  

Here's a YouTube video that demonstrates a dog receiving a microchip at a veterinary office.  You can see how quick and easy it is to microchip a dog!

NOTE: It is illegal for anyone other than a pet's owner to request that a microchip be removed from a pet. If a dog's owner changes, the new owner information needs to be updated with the microchip company with whom the chip is registered. It's important to always keep your contact information updated with the microchip recovery service (or whichever pet recovery service you have registered the chip with).

I hope this information helps explain why it's important to have your dog or cat microchipped, and gives folks some useful pet microchipping facts. If your dog isn't already microchipped, I hope you will consider it. Don't risk losing your precious dog because you can't be reliably linked together!

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