One of the most common hormonal imbalances is the over-functioning of the adrenal cortex, known as Cushing’s syndrome.
Cushing’s syndrome occurs particularly in smaller breeds of dog. The symptoms of this disease are relatively easy to recognise and should be discussed at an early stage with a vet. The excess of hormone, produced in the adrenal cortex, is the consequence of either a benign tumour in the adrenal gland itself or in the pituitary gland, the ‘master’ control organ. Initially the effects only become noticeable gradually but are usually very easy to recognise once the disease is more advanced.
Typically the sick dog will drink a lot and, accordingly, urinate frequently, and have an increased appetite. In the area of the stomach and flanks the skin is furless, thin and dark. The limbs become thinner and weaker, and a sagging ‘pot’ belly forms. The dog becomes listless and gets tired quickly.
Fatigue is a typical symptom in Cushing's syndrome
There are a range of other conditions which can also involve an increase in water consumption - and all of them are to be taken seriously. If you notice your dog is drinking more, you should discuss this with your vet immediately. If an examination and, where relevant, subsequent tests reveal that your pet does have a disorder of the adrenal cortex, your vet will be able to influence the disease with medication and help return some vigour and vitality to your dog.