Tag Archives: canine addisons

Canine Addison’s a letter to owners of any breed that is known to carry Addison’s

As I hear about illnesses (there are very few) in the Australian Labradoodle and Labradoodle I go back and forth with the idea of telling everyone and risking worry or not passing on the information and risk a possible (even if a miniscule chance) health issue.  Obvious we all hear about health symptoms online or on TV, even in humans, and think that sounds like me or my mom, or my daughter and run off worried to the doctor.   So that said I don’t want to cause panic, everyone please relax, I do not believe your dog is not at risk, we have NOT found any illness in our parent dogs, puppies or pedigree lines. I am just passing the word as I think a good breeder should do.

Most health concerns in the Poodle, Labrador or even Cocker spaniel can be removed from lines or greatly reduced incidence thru health testing.  As you all know we do extensive health testing of our parent dogs and continue contact with you all in hopes of hearing about the long term health of your puppies, thus helping us be better breeders.  Currently we are happy to say all are happy and healthy.  In 10 years of breeding (about 2-3 litters a year on average) we have only lost one offspring to cancer and one wonderful breeding dog was lost to an obstruction in his bowel (not health related but environmental).  I would have to assume I have not heard of all losses, aches or pains but I would also have to assume those were environmental (accident related).  So health testing is the main line of defense; however some illnesses have yet to have DNA or testing available to predetermine a condition and direct our breeding strategies.  Currently I am aware of some labradoodles (again NOT in our program) with seizure disorders (I have written an article on seizures available online) and some dogs with Addison’s (again NOT in our program).  But I would have to say never say never these issues cannot be predetermined so it is always possible in any breed whereas some (poodles and Labradors) are predisposed to these conditions.

So I have determined to send out this update from Rainmaker Ranch Labradoodles this year on canine Addison’s.

Canine Addison’s a letter to owners of any breed that is known to carry Addison’s

Where is Addison’s centered?

Addison’s is an imbalance in the adrenal glands; it is an imbalance in hormone levels.  Addison’s is believed to be primarily genetic with environmental triggers.  The adrenal glands are located in front of the canine kidneys and produce hormones.  These hormones are important in a body’s ability to cope with stress (physical and psycholocigal) plus balance minerals critical to life.  Of the two adrenal glands, the Adrenal cortex produces hormones essential to life, including mineralocorticoid, glucocorticoid.  Addison’s is basically hyposecretion of the hormones or the lack of mineralocorticoids whereas the result is a loss of sodium, and the ability of the body to retain potassium and water.  All of the various adrenal produced hormones (there are more than just mineralocorticoid) need to be balanced, the increase in one or decrease in one hormone causes illness.  Commercial drugs (corticosteroids or steroids) are available to substitute for the lack of mineralocorticoids produced naturally.  However, while low levels of mineralocorticoid causes illness (Addison’s), high levels of these steroids (given for other reasons) has a profound effect in the opposite direction and can actually trigger Addison’s or bring on an Addison’s crisis in dogs that carry the genetics for Addison’s.   Simply put Addison’s is believed to be genetic, even requiring two or more specific genes; however environmental factors are believed to trigger these genes.  Without the trigger even those with Addison’s genetics may never have or even know they carry Addison’s.

When would you see the signs?

Usually after a stressful situation (psychically or psychological) in dogs between the age of 18 months to 7 years of age Addison’s symptoms may arrive.  The younger age in that range occurs if, for other reasons, steroids have been given to the dog.

The problem with Addison’s is that many times it goes undiagnosed until it is too late.  What to look for are the commonly reported symptoms, which can vary from dog to dog, and include loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, hind-end pain, muscle weakness, tremors, shivering, increased thirst, dehydration, excessive urination, a painful or sensitive abdomen, muscle or joint pain, and changes in coat, which may become thicker, thinner, longer, or even curly and about 15 to 20 percent of Addisonian dogs will have dark, tarry stools or blood in their vomit, mental depression, patches of darkened skin, a slow and weak pulse, low body temperature, low blood pressure, and pale mucous membranes. These symptoms usually come in waves; the dog is sick and then seems to get over it for no apparent reason multiple times over a year or longer.   Many owners miss these bouts as they can be short in time. This temporary illness is when the adrenal functions are fluctuating but not yet at a critical stage.  As the illness progresses a lack mineralocorticoid results in marked changes in blood serum levels (potassium, sodium and chloride).  Excess potassium causes a decrease in heart rate leaving the dog predisposed to circulatory collapse and renal failure (acute renal failure is a common misdiagnosis).  An adrenal crisis is an acute medical emergency. The dog will need fluids, emergency doses of glucose and perhaps glucocorticoid.  This is sometimes given even if the ATCH (Addison’s test) is not back yet but blood levels indicate changes in levels of potassium, sodium and chloride (specifically elevated potassium, low sodium, elevated BUN and creatinine, elevated liver enzymes, low glucose, high calcium, low protein (albumin and globulin), anemia, low cholesterol, and metabolic acidosis. A sodium/potassium ratio of less than 27 is strongly indicator of Addison’s) indicating Addison’s.  Once these drugs are given the dog will be over the crisis and seem back to normal.  This of course is a preliminary indication that the problem is indeed Addison’s.  Note, only an ACTH stimulation test can determine positive Addison’s.   Currently there is NO test to determine if your dog carries the necessary genetics for Addison’s.  UCDavis is working on this test but it may be years before one is available.  Currently, prior to any illness the best you can do is follow the recommendations:

  • ·         Always keep your dog on high quality foods low in grains (no wheat, corn, and soy); I cannot say this enough; a good food is well worth the price in exchange for long term health.  Dogs are carnivores not omnivores, they are not able to digest grains and making a canine body to digest grain causes daily stress on the dogs complete system.
  • If you are worried, because a dog in your dog’s pedigree line has Addison’s, you can supplement with licorice root (pill or liquid) daily (consult a holistic vet) to help your dogs body deal with stress. Research has shown that licorice helps prolong the activity of natural (and synthetic) corticosteroids like hydrocortisone.
  • Digestive enzyme powders (probiotics or good bacteria) are a sensible addition for any dog with digestive problems and can be found at almost all pet stores.
  • Melatonin (consult a holistic vet) is recommended occasionally (one 3-mg tablet or capsule for a medium-sized dog) 20 to 30 minutes before stressful events such as fireworks, thunder, long distance moves, etc., if a dog has reactions.
  • ·         Be aware of Addison’s symptoms
  • ·         IF a crisis arrives along checking for other issues (obstructions, etc) request a blood test be preformed to check potassium, sodium and chloride levels.  If levels indicate possible Addison’s, run a ACTH test (this test is two blood draws one hour apart, after the first an injection is given to stimulate cortisol both blood tests check for cortisol levels) and IF the crisis is a critical situation treat for Addison’s with fluids and glucocorticoid.  The ACTH test is a blood test and can take up to 24 hours to get the results, the time some dogs do not have.

IF your dog has been diagnosed with Addison’s the recommendation is to move to a holistic veterinarians for long term treatment.   A dog on long term treatment can lead a normal happy life.  Treatments vary depending on a dog’s size and the extent of illness plus a negotiated price at your vet for blood work and finding the lowest cost treatments. But in general, long term treatment can be holistic or commercial drugs or usually best a combination of both to reduce dependence on synthetic drugs and lower costs, all and all about $30/month on average.  Addison’s groups on line can help find the lowest prices for long term treatments.  Each dog will vary on what is effective and what is not so obviously that cost varies as well.

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Addison’s Disease, Canine Health Issue

Addison’s disease has been detected in a limited number of the Australian Labradoodles and Labradoodles.  Addison’s disease is a disease that cannot yet be detected prior to the expression of the disease. The Poodle Club of America and UC Davis (http://cgap.ucdavis.edu/Default.htm), among others, are currently funding and undertaking research to detect the DNA specific to Addisons. When discovered this will allow breeders to pinpoint Addisons affected and Addisons carrier dogs prior to the expression of the disease.   

Until that time the only available breeding strategy for breeders of any breed where Addisons has been discovered (which includes Poodles and Poodle mixes) is to identify publically and remove from breeding programs dogs that have actually produced Addison’s offspring and to study their pedigrees to understand higher risk pedigree lines.  Higher risk pedigree lines would be those that include parents and grandparents of dogs that have Addisons.  Due to current research indicating Addisons is genetic, polygenic (involves multiple genes) and autosomal recessive (must be inherited from both parents); these ancestor dogs could carry the disease.

Two actions will greatly enhance a breeder’s ability to develop breeding strategies that include the breeding of high risk pedigree dogs; lowering inbreeding (http://www.canine-genetics.com/Price.htm ), and line breeding in these higher risk pedigree lines by out crossing (breeding to unrelated dogs) and studying Addisons watch databases (http://www.phrdatabase.com/ ) comparing them to your pedigrees.  At this point, with a minimal number of Australian Labradoodle and Labradoodle offspring with Addison’s to consider, pedigree research is in its infancy.   

 

Dr. Jerold Bell writes about polygenic disease in the following article, entitled

Managing Polygenic Disease and he uses hip dysplasia as an example:

http://www.vin.com/proceedings/Proceedings.plx?CID=TUFTSBG2003&PID=5115&O=Generic.  Applying Dr Bell’s breeding advice to Addison’s disease, breeders can follow thesame strategy they employ to avoid hip dysplasia and thereby improve their risks:

 

      Affected dogs should not be bred.

      A dog with close and/or multiple Addisonian relatives should not be bred to another with similar risks.

      Only very high quality dogs with close Addisonian relatives should be bred.

      High risk dogs should be bred sparingly and only to those with very few

Addisonians in their lines.

      Producers and offspring of Addisonians should be replaced with a lower risk offspring or parents of the same quality.

      In addition to numbers of related Addisonians, breeders should consider each affected dog’s age of onset, severity of onset and any extreme environmental exposure to determine different levels of risk when assessing depth and breadth of pedigree.

 

In order for breeders to make the safest breeding choices possible, ALL Addison’s Disease must be publicly reported. For Standard Poodles, the best and most reliable method of tracking most health issues is the Poodle Health Registry, www.poodlehealthregistry.org.” written by Natalie Green Tessier http://www.poodlehealthregistry.org/docs/Standard/Addison_Files/AddisonResearch_Request.pdf

 

As consumers you should be talking to your breeder about this issue, and breeders should be aware of current research.  Health testing, awareness of the issue and selective breeding strategies are what set breeders apart, so select wisely.

 

What is Addison’s?

 

Addisons is the common name for hypoadrenocorticism, or adrenal insufficiency.  It is a disease with symptoms that are common to many other ailments, making diagnosis difficult and at times a process of elimination.  But once Addison’s is correctly diagnosed, with a ACTH test, a properly treated pet dog can live a normal, active life (http://www.addisondogs.com/ ).

 

“The adrenal, one on each kidney, is made up of two layers, the cortex and the medulla.  The outer area, or cortex, secretes corticosteroid hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone.  The medulla, part of the sympathetic nervous system, secretes epinephrine (adrenaline), which is generally not affected by Addison’s.” written at http://www.addisondogs.com/.  

 Of the three types of Addison’s (Primary, Secondary and Atypical) Poodles and Poodle crosses are considered by experts capable of inheriting Primary Addison’s. Diagnosis is based on the ACTH “stimulation” test that measures cortisol levels before and after stimulation by an injection of artificial ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). In addition to distinguish between Primary and Secondary Addison’s, it’s necessary to measure endogenous (natural) ACTH levels. An Addison’s affected dog can show signs at any age, but most likely between the ages of 4-7 unless illness and/or medication has shortened the time period at which Addison’s would eventually be expressed.   Due to its late expression, lack of DNA testing prior to the actual expression of the disease, and no DNA testing for carrier dogs, an Addison’s affected or carrier breeding dog could have a normal undiagnosed breeding life without the knowledge of the breeder.

Symptoms of Addison’s disease can be vague.  Initially, the dog may be listless, or seem depressed.  Many dogs are described as just seeming off.  Lack of appetite is also an indicator.  Other symptoms include gastro-intestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea.  Pain in the hindquarters, or generalized muscle weakness, such as a dog that can’t jump onto the bed as he has done in the past.  Shivering or muscle tremors may also be present. 

 These symptoms may come and go over months or years making diagnosis difficult.  If the adrenals continue deteriorating, ultimately the dog will have an acute episode called an Addisonian crisis (Potassium levels elevate and disrupt normal function of the heart).  Arrhythmias can result and blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels.  BUN and creatinine levels, generally indicators of kidney function, are often elevated.  At this point many animals are diagnosed with renal failure, as the kidneys are unable to function properly.  Typically animals are given IV solutions for rehydration, which may produce an almost miraculous recovery.  This too, is a great indication that the failure of the adrenals rather than of the kidneys is creating the symptoms.  

 

How can addisons be avoided?  Well reducing physical stress can help.

Nutrition is always a concern. Diet cannot cure Addison’s disease, however, foods made of poor-quality ingredients or diets that lead to nutritional deficiencies are a significant source of stress, and additional stress is just what Addison’s dogs don’t need. Because wheat, corn, and soy are problem ingredients for some dogs, many holistic veterinarians recommend avoiding them. I would always avoid grains and feed a high quality food. In general, foods made from high-quality animal-source ingredients that are easy to digest work best, but because individual responses vary.  It seems obvious to avoid ingredients that seem to trigger symptoms. I would also recommend considering holistic approaches to reducing possible incidents in all breeds whereas this is possible.  We love the whole dog journal and here is an interesting article of many. http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/6_1/features/5510-1.html

Explanation and Breeding Strategies  

 

The main goal of the Addison’s Breeding Strategies below are to guide breeders to never produce any affected puppies, however until DNA testing is available no one can ensure any Poodle or Poodle cross is not a carrier and therefore will not be affected by Addisons.

 

We must rely on two current detection methods:

 

  • Assumed Carrier – Assumed carriers are dogs that have produced Addison’s offspring. If a Labradoodle, Australian Labradoodle or Poodle has produced an Addison’s offspring it is suggested that the dog no longer be bred. 

 

  • Higher Risk Pedigree – Higher risk pedigrees are those that have the same pedigree lines as those dogs that are assumed carriers, and in many cases have been inbred or line bred thus increasing these higher risk pedigrees in multitude. In addition, higher risk pedigrees have assumed Addisons carriers closer in relation to the current breeding dog, i.e. parent or grandparent. Production of affected dogs should be prevented by ensuring to the best of ones ability that at least one parent is not of a higher risk pedigree. 

 

In summary, most of the Australian Labradoodle and Labradoodle breeding stock, even those with higher risk pedigrees may continue to be used for breeding, thus maintaining genetic diversity within our breed. Armed new information we can attempt to prevent breeding a puppy that will be affected with the disease as it ages.

 

Where do we recommend breeders go from here?

 

Experts recommend breeders study their pedigrees and have a full knowledge of current assumed carriers.  Poodle pedigrees should be studied in relation to the Poodle Club of America Addison’s database.  Breeding dogs should have yearly CBC and TgAA testing via Antech NY labs or Dr. Dodds, Hemopets.  If any offspring is diagnosed with this condition, notify others so that they may benefit from adjusting their own breeding strategies.

 

All stud dogs should be tested yearly; every breeder should require this test of studs in service. Note yearly testing cannot fully indicate if the dog is a carrier or affected but will give yearly indicators that may lead to prior or future detection.

 

That stated, please proceed to expert sources for updates on Addisons diagnostic testing.  Dr. Jean Dodds of Hemopets (http://www.hemopet.org)  and UC Davis (http://cgap.ucdavis.edu ) are currently leading the charge.  Please note I am not a veterinarian, I am a dog breeder.  The information provided here is a collection of published information on Addisons produced by experts in the field, links to some of those are provided.  This article is NOT an attempt to provide new information (as I am not qualified to do so), but to gather current research for breeders and consumers.