Q. My dog has been tested for Cushing's. Her test came back affirming possible Cushing's but she doesn't have symptoms, only panting. What if untreated?
JESSICA L DESROSIERS
A. Cushing's Disease can result in a wide range of symptoms from panting, changes in thirst and urination, hair loss along the flanks, and even skin and body changes. If it hasn't been done already, there are more specific blood tests that can be done to confirm a Cushing's diagnosis if your dog's previous bloodwork was on the fence regarding it. Urine cortisol tests, Dex-suppression tests and ACTH stimulation tests are all specific tests that can confirm a Cushing's diagnosis.
There are also two forms of Cushing's, one based on a pituitary problem and one caused by prolonged use of corticosteroids. If your dog has been on a long-term steroid medication, your vet may wish to discontinue or test again after a period to confirm the diagnosis.
Not treating Cushing's can result in permanent changes to the skin and coat, and may also cause problems with the bladder and kidneys. As it is a metabolic disease, leaving it untreated may also cause other metabolic issues further in the future. Treatment is usually just a daily medication to bring the hormones in the body back to normal.