Sometimes, dog owners have to face one of the most difficult decisions of their lives. There are occasions in which pets are suffering from a terminal illness and need to be euthanized. If your furry friend has Cushing's disease and you are wondering “when to put a dog down with Cushing's disease?” Don’t worry. Here you will find all the information you need to know!

What Is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing's disease in dogs could be defined as the disease of excess cortisol. What happens to pets fighting off this pathology is that their body secretes an excess of this hormone. Despite being a chronic and life-threatening condition, the dog can enjoy a good quality of life with proper treatment.

Cushing's disease normally affects canines over six years of age and may therefore be associated with other disorders typical of old age, such as liver or kidney problems. Dog breeds such as the poodle, Yorkshire, Maltese, Schnauzer, German Shepherd, and Labrador are likely to have Cushing’s disease

This affliction is diagnosed through blood tests and ultrasound. There are two types of Cushing’s disease: pituitary-dependent and adrenal-dependent.


Pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. This tumor triggers an overproduction of the ACTH hormone, which leads to an overabundance of cortisol in the puppy’s body.

It is estimated that about 80 to 85 percent of dogs with Cushing's disease are pituitary-dependent.


Adrenal-dependent Cushing’s disease is the result of a tumor on the adrenal glands, which are found above the kidney. This tumor brings about an overproduction of cortisol as well. This type of Cushing's disease affects approximately 20 percent of dogs with this pathology

Symptoms of Cushing's disease

Cushing's disease usually affects middle-aged to older canines. This condition progresses slowly and early symptoms are not always detectable.

One of the most obvious signs of Cushing's disease in dogs is hair loss in a very peculiar way. The hair is lost symmetrically (symmetrical alopecia) on both sides of the body. The puppy's tail is deprived of fur and, because of its characteristic appearance, is referred to as "rat tail". This usually occurs when the disease is at a very advanced stage.

The initial and most frequent signs are increased thirst (polydipsia) and urination (polyuria), an insatiable appetite, a swollen abdomen (abdominal distention), weakness or listlessness, and dermatological symptoms such as alopecia and loss of skin thickness. On the other hand, the dog may be weak and therefore shy away from physical exercise.

If he shows these symptoms or some of them, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian promptly.

Treatment of Cushing’s disease

The hormone cortisol, which regulates the dog's endocrine system, is the key to this disorder, as excess production of this hormone causes it. There are treatments that may help control the symptoms of this pathology. However, in order to keep this malady under control pets will need check-ups for the rest of their lives.

The treatment for both types of Cushing’s disease is either carried out with drugs or surgery. The use of medication can relieve many of the symptoms of this condition, but that will rely upon the pup and the severity of the illness.

In the case of surgery, it is necessary when tumors are way too large and when the medication is not effective. Nonetheless, surgery is not always a successful way to cure Cushing’s disease.

So, When to Put Down a Dog With Cushing’s Disease?

Even though Cushing's disease is treatable, it will frequently affect the pet’s quality of life. Canines with this pathology can live several years if they receive medical care. Nevertheless, there is no specific estimation when it comes to sacrificing a pet with Cushing’s disease. It depends on how advanced this condition is and how the dog endures.

Some signs that indicate that owners should think about euthanasia are loss of weight, pain, breathing difficulties, lack of thirst, and appetite among others.

Putting down the man's best friend is very tough, but sometimes owners must make this decision in order to end their furry friend’s suffering. Everybody does want their pets to be eternal because they are our companions in life.

If you are about to put a dog down with Cushing’s disease, you should consult a vet in order to get the advice of an expert in this matter. Do not feel guilty for making this decision, life is cruel and unfair. This is why sometimes owners have to decide on their pet’s life.