Pebble is a 5 year old Cavoodle who had been spending a lot of time at Reservoir Vet Clinic in the last few weeks. Pebble's owner brought her to see us after she went off her food, not even wanting her dentabone treats. Dr Bree examined Pebble and couldn't find a specific problem but suggested it was best to admit Pebble to hospital to treat any dehydration she was experiencing from the lack of food.
Pebble was admitted to hospital and placed on intravenous fluids for the day to keep her hydrated. Pain relief was also prescribed to make Pebble feel more comfortable. We also took x-rays of her abdomen to ensure there was nothing unusual and there wasn't. She was fed a bland food - a special chicken and rice diet called Royal Canin Sensitivity diet.
After 24 hours in hospital Pebble was looking brighter and had started to eat again. She was discharged and sent home.
A few days later Pebble was back to see Dr Raj. She was still not herself, very quiet, without her normal appetite and vomiting after eating. She was admitted into hospital again for intravenous fluids and pain relief. A blood sample was taken and sent to the laboratory for testing. The next day the results came back and showed that Pebble had an electrolyte imbalance. Her potassium levels were high and her sodium levels were low. This was suggestive of a condition called Addison's disease, a condition in which the adrenal glands are producing insufficient levels of cortisone, also known as hypoadrenocorticism. Symptoms of Addison's disease are often vague but can include listlessness, gasto-intestinal upsets and abdominal pain. As a result, it is often diagnosed only after a lot of other illnesses are ruled out.
To be certain of the diagnosis, Dr Raj performed a blood test called an ACTH stimulation test. This involves taking a blood sample from Pebble, giving a form of pituitary hormone (ACTH) that tells the adrenals to produce cortisol. After an hour, blood is drawn again and the cortisol level measured and compared with the first sample. If Pebble had Addison's disease, we would expect no rise in the level of cortisol in her blood. The results of Pebble's ACTH stimulation test confirmed that she has Addison's disease.
Treatment was begun with cortisol-containing drugs which she will need to take every day for the rest of her life. Prognosis for dogs with this condition is good with proper drug therapy and Pebble is expected to live a pretty normal life for years to come.