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Canine Cushing’s Disease on the Rise

METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) - Like a lot of pampered pooches, Gigi, a Maltese, wears a little crown on top of her long, cream-colored hair. But under her hair is a clue to a disease which Gigi’s owners didn’t realize she had.

In the dermatology department at Southeast Veterinary Specialists in Metairie, Dr. Steve Lemarie showed us some bumps along Gigi’s back.  But Dr. Lemarie doesn’t believe the bumps are the result of a skin condition.  Instead, he says the bumps are a clue — what he calls “a little window, a little peek into what’s going on” internally.

Dr. Lemarie suspected Gigi had an abnormal level of cortisol, and a subsequent blood test and ultrasound confirmed his suspicion.

Gigi has Cushing’s Disease, one of the most common diseases in dogs.  In fact, Dr. LeMarie says he told us he sees at least one new case of Cushing’s Disease each week.

He says it’s an endocrine system disease, in which the pet’s level of the cortisol hormone is “out of balance in some way.”

The good news is, Cushing’s is easily managed with a daily dose of medication.

Dr. Lemarie assures pet owners that the symptoms of Cushing’s can be subtle, and slow to develop.  Skin lesions and changes in weight or appetite are a few of the common signs he says  pet owners should be aware of, but there is no known cause.

However, with the right treatment, Dr. Lemarie says Gigi can wear her crown with confidence.   “She’s a cute little dog,” he says, “but she’s a little spitfire.”