Cushing’s syndrome occurs in dogs that are producing excessive amounts of cortisol which is important in helping to regulate the body’s metabolism.

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. These are situated next to the kidneys and are controlled by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain.

Most cases (85%) of Cushing’s syndrome are caused by a small benign tumour of the pituitary gland which stimulates the adrenal gland to overproduce cortisol. In 15% of cases there is a tumour of one or both of the adrenal glands. Several tests will be performed initially to allow an accurate diagnosis to be made and thereafter to choose the right treatment option for your dog.

Cushing’s disease is not curable but can be effectively controlled for many years. The following is an outline of the protocol for initial management along with long term monitoring of your dog. It is essential that this protocol is adhered to in order to monitor the progress of the disease and to allow early detection of any side effects of the medication or the development of other conditions that are common in elderly dogs e.g. kidney or liver disease or sugar diabetes.

Initial diagnosis

Blood test for haematology, serum biochemistry, electrolytes along with Cushing’s specific tests including an ACTH stimulation test or a dexamethasone suppression test.

After initiating treatment

At 10 days - Blood test for haematology, serum biochemistry, electrolytes and an ACTH stimulation test.


Blood test for haematology, serum biochemistry, electrolytes and an ACTH stimulation test at:-

  • 4 weeks
  • 12 weeks

And thereafter every 3 months.

Further investigations and more frequent blood samples may be required in cases who are not responding to treatment.


  Haematology, Serum biochemistry, electrolytes ACTH stimulation test
4 weeks
12 weeks