Addison’s is more commonly seen in young to middle aged dogs, often female. The breeds which are more likely to have Addison’s disease include; Poodles, Bearded Collies, Rottweilers and West Highland White Terriers.
Dogs with Addison’s disease have lower than normal levels of glucocorticoids (cortisol), an important hormone that helps regulate the body’s metabolism and its ability to cope with stress; and mineralocorticoids (aldosterone) which regulate levels of salt and water in the body, these hormones are vital in allowing the body to function normally.
The adrenal glands are two small glands which sit either side of the kidneys. They produce essential hormones, including cortisol and aldosterone. When a dog has Addison’s disease the adrenal glands have been damaged and are not working as they should.
The adrenal glands can become damaged as a result of a number of things:
When the adrenal glands are damaged they do not produce enough cortisol and aldosterone, sometimes not producing any at all.
These hormones are vital to regulate many bodily functions such as metabolism, blood pressure, hydration and response to stress.
When a dog doesn’t produce enough of these hormones it will become unwell and if the levels become very low it can become life-threatening.