The endocrine tissue is a collection of organs or groups of cells that have in common the ability to produce chemical messages in the form of hormones. The endocrine disease in dogs result from excess or deficiency in hormonal secretion.
Causes of the endocrine disease in dogs
Diseases of the endocrine system result either from a defect in hormonal secretion, resulting in signs of deficiency, or on the contrary from exacerbated functioning which causes symptoms related to excess hormones.
Dogs can present abnormalities in the development of the glands or disorders in their functioning, and the hormonal deficit is generally more serious when the animal is young. Unfortunately, most puppies with these glandular conditions die early.
In adult dogs, the origin of endocrine hypofunction, namely insufficient functioning of the endocrine glands, remains generally unknown, especially since the signs appear later in the life of the animal.
As for the excess secretions, they are often the consequences of a dog tumor. However, the functioning of the endocrine glands can also simply be disrupted by the administration of hormonal drugs.
Endocrine disease in dogs: Veterinary examinations and diagnosis
Most symptoms, such as hair loss or behavior disorders, are not necessarily typical of a specific hormonal impairment, and biological abnormalities are sometimes more characteristic of the condition. Hormone levels fluctuate continuously over the course of a day. Dynamic or functional explorations are necessary to find out the real condition of the gland functions.
A stimulation test by the administration of a special solution makes it possible to evaluate the maximum secretion capacity of the gland. Due to hormonal interactions, and the possible imprecision of clinical signs, it is often necessary to test several glands during the examination. Also, the pituitary gland, located in the cranial box, is only visible by CT or MRI.
As for scintigraphy, it makes it possible to explore rare thyroid tumors, and therefore assess their extent. You should also know that unlike humans or cats, thyroid tumors in dogs are not secretory.
Treatment of the Endocrine disease
The objectives of a treatment of diseases of the dog’s endocrine system are aimed at compensating for production deficits, or on the contrary to limit their excess.
This takes the form of an hormone replacement therapy through the administration of substances similar to the missing hormones to compensate for a deficiency. These treatments are most often permanent, for the balance of a dog’s life. Hormone replacement therapy is used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus in dogs, hyperthyroidism or even hypocorticism.
Surgery is also an option and consists in removing the tumor(s) responsible for the increased production of hormones. Also, radiation therapy can be offered to treat pituitary tumors.
Unfortunately, an endocrine disease in dogs often leads to complications, such as infection, which requires additional medical treatment until hormonal stabilization.
The origin the disease
When the thyroid glands are gradually destroyed or they no longer function properly, thyroid hormones are no longer produced in sufficient quantity, if at all, and all the functioning of the organism is affected. This translates into disruptions in the regulation of the body temperature, metabolism, heart functions, etc. The dog’s level of energy is decreasing, he may gain or lose weight, his coat is less beautiful and less dense, his mouth may be swollen (edema), and me may develop behavioral problems.
Dogs of all breeds, male or female, are mostly affected between 2 and 6 years old. The veterinarian will treat the animal with synthetic hormones, which usually results in a fairly quick recovery but the treatment will be required for life.