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Published: Jun 14, 2012

Addison's disease in dogs is a potentially life-threatening condition with clinical signs that are shared with many other conditions. This means pet owners need to have a good understanding of what Addison's disease is in order to catch it early.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, Addison's disease is also referred to as hypoadrenocorticism and relates to a problem in which the dog’s adrenal glands do not produce sufficient  hormones in order to maintain health.  Addison's disease may be triggered by a number of factors, including injury to the glands, tumors in the area, and most commonly autoimmune destruction of the gland.

The clinical signs of Addison's disease are shared with many other more common problems, meaning it likely won't be the first consideration for the animal. Clinical signs include weakness, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Canines may also urinate or drink excessively.  Many dogs also lose a significant amount of weight in a short time because of the disease.

In some cases, these symptoms can progress to a much more serious situation. Sudden weakness, severe diarrhea or vomiting leading to collapse is referred to as an Addisonian crisis. This is considered a medical emergency and the dog should be brought to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible.

The good news is that Addison's disease is very treatable, once it is diagnosed. The prognosis for dogs suffering from the disease is very good once they begin and respond to medication, even if they previously suffered from an Addisonian crisis.