Chatham Animal Rescue and Education, Inc.
Addison's Disease

Addison's disease is a chronic illness that affects the Adrenal glands. (Endocrine glands located above the kidneys, which secrete several types of steroid hormones required by the body.) While the cause of Addison's disease is not known, in most cases it is probably due to an autoimmune response (an immune response by the body against one of its own tissues or types of cells). This disease is rare in canines, and eighty percent of affected dogs are females. The majority of dogs with Addison's disease, who are treated, live a normal lifespan, and are otherwise healthy and active.

Dogs diagnosed with Addison's disease must be treated with medications which replace the glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids normally produced by the Adrenal glands. These supplements allow the dog to respond to stresses, both environmental and physiological. The fatality result for untreated dogs is 100%. Two medications are prescribed and must be administered for the lifetime of the dog. Low dose Prednisone, a relatively inexpensive drug, is given orally in pill form on a daily basis. An injection of DOCP is administered on an average of every 25 days. This medication is very costly. (At his current weight, the cost of one injection for Sawyer is eighty dollars.) In addition, bloodwork is required every three months to ensure that the dosage of medication is adequate.

For more in depth details on Addison's disease, go to: http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/40204.htm.