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When To Put A Dog Down With Cushing’s Disease

My Smily Riley. She was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease when she was 13 years old. Euthanizing her was not an option for me even though she was pretty far along in the disease. Thankfully we spent 1.5 more wonderful years together even after her condition was discovered.

I did not see the signs she was sending letting me know it was time – or maybe I did and just chose to ignore them. I had heard that pit bulls can live to be about 12-14 years old and we were right there. I did not want to think we were at the end of her life.

One day I got up to go to the bathroom – she followed behind me and collapsed in the kitchen. She convulsed, she urinated – and began frothing at the mouth. MY dog, who had battled Cushing’s disease for so long was leaving me…….

I was numb and felt horrible that I let her go this way. I knew her life was nearing the end – and my last minutes with her were gut wrenching, not only for me but for her sister Ginger who saw it all.

While I knew she was going downhill fast and her quality of life was diminishing – I did not hear her signals that it was time. She was never a clingy dog but those last few weeks she was EXTRA clingy – like she was trying to get my attention to tell me something.

I wish I had listened so she could go with dignity and under a more controlled environment. RIP Riley and I am sorry I did not listen better girl! Below are what I have learned about Cushing’s disease for dogs and my thoughts on when it is time to put them down to prevent suffering.

If you have an amazing bond with your pet – you will be able to tell when his mood, behavior or physical characteristics change. When these changes happen it may be a sign that they are ready – whether you are or not.

Early treatment of Cushing’s disease in dogs may also increase the time you have with your pet so be sure to get those annual exams and be aware of changes that can be signs of the disease!

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What is Cushing’s Disease In Dogs?

Any time you hear a vet or other dog expert using the words hypercortisolism or hyperadrenocorticism, don’t be scared. These are just the scientific names for Cushing’s disease in dogs.

It is caused by the overproduction or excessive amounts of a hormone known as cortisol. The cortisol level plays a vital role in a dog’s body. Some of these include fighting infections, maintaining a healthy weight, and dealing with high levels of stress.

When To Put A Dog Down With Cushing’s Disease?

Ginger Riley Spooning

Some of the signs that it may be time to euthanize a dog with Cushing’s disease include loss of appetite, severe muscle loss, increased lethargy, excessive drinking, increased urination or is showing a general disinterest in life and things they once loved.

Knowing when to put down a dog with Cushing’s disease is not easy – your heart says one thing – but your head will say another. Listen to your head — if you know your dog is no longer loving life – it is time.

I waited too long and my girl passed at home after having a seizure. It was horrible, and I knew she was ready weeks earlier but the thought of losing her was too much.

It is my biggest regret.

Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease In Dogs

The symptoms of Cushing’s disease are increased appetite and thirst, increased urination, abdominal distention, lethargy, muscle loss, thinning of the skin and mild to severe loss of hair.

Whenever you notice any of these symptoms of Cushing’s, notify the vet immediately. You may also pay a visit to the vet for a checkup if you notice something unusual with your dog.

If you are wondering what are the final stages of Cushing’s may be – it really depends on the dog. All of the above are symptoms – with Riley I noticed the last few days she just did not want to move and became super clingy with me which was not normal for her.

A few people have asked about their dog vomiting and having diarrhea as signs – my Riley showed neither of those. I followed up with my vet who advised those are not typical signs to look for.

Diagnosing & Treating A Dog With Cushing’s Disease

A visit to your veterinarian should be the first thing you do if you even think your dog may have Cushing’s disease. 

While there is no one test that will be able to give a proper diagnosis, the vet will use a physical exam and some blood and urine tests to properly diagnose whether Cushing’s is present. One thing I wish I had done was keep track of all of her tests and medications we tried in some kind of pet planner. One thing you will find is that there is a LOT going on when trying to make a diagnosis and it can be overwhelming – but you will want to keep track of what is happening!

Tests that are commonly used include:

  • ACTH stimulation test
  • Urine cortisol 
  • Low dose dexamethasone suppression
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood work tests
  • Blood pressure

You should know that once the vet diagnoses this disease, there is no permanent cure.

These tests will help the veterinarian determine whether Cushing’s disease is present and what type they may have. Typically there are 2 kinds of Cushing’s disease – pituitary dependent and adrenal dependent. 

when to euthanize a dog with cushings disease
my Smily Riley in her younger days – RIP pretty girl

Adrenal Dependent Cushing’s

This type of Cushing’s usually signifies there is a tumor on the adrenal gland. If your dog has an adrenal tumor growing on the adrenal glands, your vet may suggest abdominal surgery to remove it.

Adrenal tumors as a cause of the disease is rare and affects only about 10% of the dogs treated for the disease.

Pituitary Dependent Cushing’s

This one is the more common type of Cushing’s disease which arises from a growth in the pituitary gland part of the brain. Pituitary tumors cause an overproduction of the ACTH hormone which then triggers an overabundance of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much of this stress hormone can weaken the immune system of your dog.

It has been estimated that as many as 90% of dogs with this disease have pituitary tumors. With early intervention and proper treatment, this type of disease can have a good prognosis with a good quality of life for several more years.

Treatments For Cushing’s

Depending on the type of Cushing’s your dog has been diagnosed with will determine the treatment your vet prescribes. Unfortunately, the treatments for Cushing’s may not increase the life span of your dog.

Lysodren is one of the prescriptions that vets administer to pets with the disease. It is common and it has been in the market since the 70s. You may be interested to know what the drug does, and here it is. It destroys the adrenal gland up to a level where it ceases to overproduce cortisol. You should be careful when the vet administers this drug as a treatment of Cushings disease. If there is an overdose from the drug, it may completely wipe out the adrenal glands, and this may eventually lead to death – which is just one of the serious side effects this drug has.

Trilostane is a newer treatment that is less risky than Lysodren but more expensive. Instead of killing the adrenal glands, Trilostane inhibits the production of cortisol. However, this does not mean that it does not have side effects. Like any other medication, wrong administration of the drug may cause severe effects including death. This option has much less serious side effects but your dog may show some lethargy or a lower appetite while on this drug.

There are also many who swear a change in diet helped their dogs with Cushing’s. When I did my research I found some had tested out fresh dog foods as an option and said their was a difference in the energy level of their dog and some swear it prolonged their lives. I tried to find research on this but was unable to come up with anything concrete.

It is recommended to feed your dog a higher protein diet as well as foods that are low in fiber and fat which can help reduce your dog’s symptoms. I personally did not do any of this, not because I did not love my dog, but she always had major issues when we changed her diet – and at 14 – and already passed her expected life expectancy I did not want her to have to deal with the discomfort of a new diet.

Frequent trips to the vet after she was diagnosed were part of our plan so she could get check ups and various screening tests so we can see how the disease was progressing.

Is My Dog In Pain If They Have Cushing’s?

Pit bull with Foster Kitten
Riley with our foster kitten.

Personally speaking my girl did not seem to have any pain or discomfort from Cushing’s and the vet also stated that he does not see my girl in pain at all. Typically dogs do not experience pain from Cushing’s – so that is a bit of good news – her quality of life really stayed good right until the end.

If you do feel like your dog is in pain – maybe they are whining or uncomfortable there are a few things you can try to reduce your dogs pain or stress. But again, quality of life is everything – so keep on eye on them to look for changes in behavior which can signal some type of pain.

How Long Does A Dog Live With Cushing’s Disease?

There is no definitive answer for how long a dog can live with Cushing’s.

My girl survived for a bit under 2 years after her diagnosis with no treatments. It will depend on your dogs age, how early you caught it and the general overall health of your pet.

What Are The Final Stages Of Cushing’s Disease In Dogs?

As Cushing’s disease advances, you may notice your dog becoming very weak and lethargic. They may start to have skin lesions, stop eating and drinking and become less social.

These were all signs that I noticed in my own dog’s final stages before I decided to euthanize.

Final Thoughts

Smiley Riley passed from Cushing;s disease
RIP baby girl.

No doubt, this is one of the hardest things you and your canine companion may ever have to deal with. Losing a family member is an emotional experience and knowing if you are putting them down at the right time – well that is even harder.

I hope my story helps you understand better when to put down a dog with Cushing’s disease.

If you are dealing with this – my heart and thoughts are with you. Hug your baby tight, make those last days amazing – and let them go with dignity and grace and hugs…….

Leave a Comment


80 thoughts on “When To Put A Dog Down With Cushing’s Disease”

  1. Thank you for your story. My Annie is a Chiweenie and will be 12 years old in November. She was diagnosed with diabetes in May of 2019. I have always cooked fresh food for her and we have stayed as healthy as possible all this time. A couple of weeks ago she refused to eat her meals and was having diarrhea so I took her to the vet. Tests showed an enlarged liver so we test for Cushings. Bingo. I have revamped her food recipe and we started Vetoryl today. So far it is going well and her sugar has been stable so far today. I don’t want her to ever suffer and pray I will listen to what she tells me when the time comes. Thank you again for your story and I am so sorry for your baby’s passing…She was beautiful!

    • Thank you Tina for the kind words. I am so sorry about Annie, but it sounds like she is in the best of hands! Please, enjoy every moment with her and give her hugs from me! Jill

  2. My dog was missed diagnosed n treated for the wrong disease for two years I finally got the right diagnosis n she has Cushings so has been treated vide 2 years with the wrong medication n I think maybe now it might be too late for her she is 11 year old beagle n list a lot of hair n her breathing is very labored I did the retesting n the change of medicine but didn’t see much if a difference excepting that she was more lethargic n didn’t move much so I stopped the medicine they told me about the side effects with this medicine n that if I saw blood in her stool to stop it immediately that it could kill her so hearing that with her age I stopped the medicine n started her on a natural medicine n she wasn’t even on it two days n I think from stopping the other medicine it is making her stool now bloody I am heart broken n do not know what to do I think this diagnosis was to late after the miss diagnosis for two years she still eats n drinks very well so I think I will just wait a few days n see how she is I just don’t want her to be in any pain n seeing her like this is not fun n killing me inside …do you have any other suggestions that would maybe ease my mind or am I doing the right thing by waiting a few more days or does that seem I am being selfish n making her suffer for her just to be here I would really like any suggestion or thought that you might have thank you so much for your story it’s helped a little 😊🐾🐶

    • Hi Denise, first – I am so sorry about what you are going through. Not having the right diagnosis for so long really does affect how far the Cushing’s has advanced. It is hard to tell how far along she is with the Cushing’s so it is hard to say what the right thing to do is. If I were you I would focus less on what you are seeing and focus more on how your dog is acting. Does she still do some things she loves? Is she still moving around and enjoying light play? If so, then it sounds like it is not time yet. I promise your baby will give you signs she is ready…….just make sure you are keeping your heart open to those signs. {{{{hugs}}} Jill

      • She still eats but with labored breathing while trying to eat like maybe it’s gone into her lungs n drinks n just not herself n been coming up into my bed at night which she never has done she has lost a lot of her fur n sleeps on n off with her eyes open a lot n just the blood in her stool makes me very nervous I also just noticed on my blanket that there is also a spot of blood on it from her , I think I will wait a couple of days to see if that goes away n if it doesn’t or gets worse then there is more going on inside of her than I know n thank you for getting back to me 🐶

        • It is a good sign she is still eating….but the blood is concerning. My vet said they are not in pain with Cushing’s in most cases – but the decline in health can make them moody and clingy. My girl became EXTRA clingy in the end – and she was never a clingy dog. That was the sign I think she was giving me that I did not hear. Just enjoy every minute you have with her……I know how hard this all is. Sending positive vibes. J

  3. Your story helped me alot, so much that I would love to talk to you on the phone one day if thats okay with you please email me and let me know and THANK U AND GOD BLESS YOUR FUR BABY IN HEAVEN

  4. Thank you. Our Daisy was finally diagnosed with Cushings after several months of treating her for other illnesses. She has some lung issues and her digestion is crazy like an EPI dog. We were shocked at the cost of treatment and cannot afford it. We think she is at the end of her life. She cannot sleep for long. Her eyes are always open. Her breathing is labored and she had a two hour seizure the night after our vet visit where he kept her all days to run tests. I appreciate your words so much. It is hard to see with only your mind. She is ready to go and our hearts aren’t ready to say goodbye. We are taking her next week after spoiling her this week. Tgankbyou

    • Hi Cynthia – I am so sorry about Daisy. I know how hard it is and it sounds like she may be telling you she is ready….my thoughts are with you. {{hugs}}

  5. My little girl is going through this now it’s absolutely heartbreaking thank you so much for your story!

  6. Thank you Jill, for sharing your story, your heart ~ your Riley with us. I can only imagine how hard that was for you.
    I have my own story just as many do, with my babies and have been torn ~ heartbroken and undecided.
    Thank you for adding useful insight into the life of the parent watching their baby endure this and for being the voice of our babies as we desperately want to hold on to them ~ just one more second.
    RIP sweet Riley.
    Stay strong Jill ~ hugs and prayers as you learn to live with the loss your your boy.

    • Hi MarieAnne, thank you so much for the kind words. It is definitely one of the most difficult things I have personally been through. Knowing when the right time is – well it is just plain hard. You just wish they can tell you when the are ready! I am sorry about all you are going through……and hope when the time comes you are at peace with it. {{hugs}} Jill

  7. Our 10 year old husky/shepherd mix is nearing the end. Severe diabetic, almost blind…has all the end stage symptoms. We have been holding on…because there are times that she is her old self. Tonight she scared us. She was barking at nothing and seemed completely confused. It is so hard, but I know we are needing to make the hard choice.

    • I am so sorry Estrella. The confusion they seem to get is one of the hardest things to deal with. Sending hugs your way. Jill

  8. My 11 year old girl, Sophie, just had bloodwork and from the results her Vet is sure she has Cushing’s. She said there are more tests we can do and treatment options, but that there is no cure. It will just stop the symptoms. So far Sophie’s symptoms are very manageable, and after reading your article I’m considering not treating Sophie and letting her live her life as long as she wants to. I know when she is ready she’ll tell me. ❤️

    • Hi Nicole, I am sorry Sophie has this diagnosis. She will definitely let you know – your heart just has to listen, even if it is hard to hear! Sending good vibes for your both. Jill

      • Jill- my 5yr old silver Labrador has had Addison’s disease for about 6 months. We’ve been treating Charlie for over a year for an enlarged heart and abnormal rhythm. They said he could live a very long time with that. Today I’m told he has Cushings. I’m at a loss because with Charlie ball is life and his frisbee. I swear he’ll cross over with both in his mouth at the same time. He’s on several meds and tramadol for pain twice a day. So all of that said he’s happy. He eats like he’s starving. I cook real healthy food for him 4x a day and he gets 3 snacks because he keeps losing weight. But he’s happy. Happy to go outside. Happy to play with his sister albeit he’s laying down and playing with her. He’s most happy running across the yard after the ball several times a day. But after those bursts of excitement I see the symptoms return. All of them on the list. Other than loss of appetite. He’s very good motivated. As long as he’s happy it’s ok to keep going, right?

        • Hi Amanda! I am sorry to hear about Charlie, but he sounds like my Riley — and will probably live every day to the fullest for as long as he can! He sounds like he is living his best life and not ready yet……trust me, you will know —- he will change….and the signs may be subtle in the beginning, but they will be there. The hard part about Cushing’s is they can survive for years – or just months….so please, don’t stress – and enjoy EVERY moment with that sweet boy. Sending positive vibes your way! Jill

  9. When my yorkshire terrier “Coconut” was about 11 years old, I noticed that he ate a lot and drank a lot of water. Later, he started coughing which it got worst. I took him to see the vet at least three times with different vets. None of them .showed any concerns about his coughing and peeing. Until he was about 13 years old, his coughing got really bad. The vet found that he had enlarged livers (Cushing Disease). He had to be at the animal hospital at 8:00 a.m. then I picked him up around 7:15 p.m. to find the right dose of Vetoryl. When he arrived home, he drank all the water in 3 bowls. I added more water for him; he emptied all 3 bowls again. The next day, I thought how come my dog behalf very well. He didn’t bark or whine at all until later of that day, he just made a little sound like “uhh”. So I realized that he lost his voice. I called the hospital to see whether Coconut barked a lot when he was there yesterday. They said that he didn’t bark at all. It took him 4 days to have his voice back. Right after that, his health declined very quickly. He was skinny, weak and didn’t want to go for a walk. Later, he started having seizers. I took him to the vet again and found that he had type 1 diabetes. I gave him insulin shots twice a day. Less than a week, he refused to eat. I had to put the food into his mouth so I could give him the insulin shot. I was so sad to see him suffer but I also had hope that we could have time together for awhile. Then his blood test showed that he started having problem with his kidneys. My heart was breaking to know that. He collapsed while he was trying to release in the backyard. I also noticed that he started blinding and the healed scar on his nose became fresh and swollen. It looked like he had running nose all the time. I am so sorry for my poor boy. He was my son. He always wanted to please me. I had to let him go on April 26, 2020. After he passed, I found that dehydration will shut down all internal organs of animals. I feel like I wanted to help my dog by taking him to see his vet for Cushing Disease but it turned to hurt him, instead. It likes a torture as he needed to drink a lot of water because of the Cushing Disease already; which it was more dangerous for his health not having enough water.
    Since he passed away, I cry everyday. Somedays it was like a heavy rain pouring on my face; somedays it was like drizzling rain. I wish I could hug and kiss him one more time. I’m crying while I’m typing this. He died 3 weeks before his 14 birthday. He and I have the same birthday. We celebrated our birthday together all those years. I sang Happy Birthday song to him every year. Our birthday cakes had his name and my name on them. It will be like this for the rest of my life. Oh Coconut…mama is missing you so much.

    • I am so sorry for your loss and all you had to go through with Coconut. Sounds like a special bond. I hope you can find the room in your heart to save another pup which may very well help your pain. I lost both my dogs within 6 months and bringing Cleo into our house a few months later did help with the pain. Sending you my thoughts…..and thanks for being a great dog mom! Jill

  10. Reading this I am angry at my Vet I’ve been going to for 50 years. My female Cairn Sammy has had symptoms of Cushings for 9 months. Getting worse all the time. We lost her brother Buddy in March. It was just before the pandemic started. My husband was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer at that same time. There was so much going on, and the Vet wouldn’t listen to me that Sammy was really sick with something. Finally in November she was tested. We’re on disability and don’t have alot of money. The tests were $600.00. Now we ordered meds from a compound pharmacy. Less money but still more than we can really afford.
    I’m not saying I wouldn’t give up my own food to help my Sammy, but she’s clearly suffering.
    I may actually change Vets. We got a new puppy, and we’ll try the drug for Sammy. If I had read this before I would have put her down instead of putting her through this. She’s hungry all the time. Never wants to go for the long daily walks we used to go on. She gets up 3 times a night to pee. She hates the new pup Dakotah. She’s mad, and tired and just not the cute little thing we got 12 years ago.
    I’m afraid it’s time. We’ll see how the meds go.
    Thanks for enlightening me.

    • Hi Janis, I am so sorry for all you are going through and hope that Sammy reacts well to the drugs! Sending positive thoughts. Jill

  11. Thank you so much for this. This is exactly what we’re going through with our 14 yo Shepherd Mix and it’s comforting to read your experience. She’s been with me 13 years since I picked her up from the rescue shelter. That’s longer than I’ve known my husband. Her symptoms and deterioration came on fast (3 months). On top of Cushing’s, she has bad dementia, incontinence, and is now completely blind. She panics when she forgets where the walls and obstacles are and I cannot image how scary it must be. Today she collapsed at my feet and seemed utterly over it. We’ve decided to help her pass here at home so she can be comfortable. Our Vet is coming by tomorrow evening. My heart is breaking but I know we’re doing the right thing.

    • Hi Chelley, I am so sorry about your girl – my thoughts are with you today. Please enjoy those last hours, and take solace in knowing she has an amazing life and you are doing the best thing you can for her. {{hugs}} Jill

  12. I cannot take it. My sweet cocker spaniel (that was my seizure dog) lost his sight to glaucoma. He has had a heart murmur all his life so I wasn’t wiring about that. The vet keeps a check on it. Quincey is 12.5 years old. He was diagnosed with Cushing’s about 6 months ago. He is on trilostane but I see him becoming weaker everyday. His little legs tremble when he walks, he doesn’t run out go up and down the stairs anymore either. I thought he was cold and that was causing his trembling for the last few weeks. It’s cold here. I am simply devastated. I can’t bear the thought of losing him. He has problems with skin and ear infections so we are the vet really often. He goes crazy barking and wagging his tail when I come downstairs. I hope he isn’t hurting, I want to keep him, happy, safe and comfortable as long as I can. I am sure there will come a day when he doesn’t wag his tail or bark his happy little yip. When that day comes I don’t know if I can let him go. He has been the only stable part of my life for years. I know Cushing’s is hard him and me. I just feel so inept when it comes to making decisions about his life and the inevitable end.

    • I am so terribly sorry Sherry and 100% understand your pain. Just be sure to “listen” to the signs Quincey is giving you and let your head make the decision not your heart. That was my mistake. Hang in there and love on him every minute you have! {{hugs}} Jill

  13. I want to thank you for this article. Yogi, now 13, became blind and diagnosed with cushings 8 months ago. 5 days ago she stopped eating still drinking , but sleeping and clingy all the time. I have an appointment to put her to sleep in 1 hour. I know it is time and finding this article confirms it.
    I will miss my little long hair chihuahua more than I ever thought!
    Thank you for the guide.

    • I am so terribly sorry about Yogi! It is so hard to go through this……my thoughts are with you. {{hugs}} Jill

  14. My baby, Kyra, is a Jack Russell and is 15 1/2 years old. We took her in a year ago for a dental cleaning. After they checked her bloodwork, they said she had markers for Cushing’s and asked if she was having any symptoms. At that time, she wasn’t. We looked up the symptoms so we could keep an eye on her. About June/July of this year, she started drinking, peeing, and constantly starving. She couldn’t get enough food. We took her into the vet and had her tested. She was then diagnosed with Cushing’s and put on meds. About a month ago, I noticed I could hear and feel her heart. Something didn’t seem right. We took her back in to see a specialist and was told she has an enlarged heart on the left and now also has a heart murmur.

    This weekend has been very tough! I got up yesterday (Saturday) and brought her downstairs to eat. She normally barks and barks for her meds. We put them in peanut butter. She loves her peanut butter. She wasn’t too interested but ate it anyway. When I put her food down she wouldn’t eat. I decided to put some in my hand and she ate every bite. I went ahead and continued putting more and more of her food in my hand while she continued to eat every drop. Later in the afternoon she threw up her food. I couldn’t get her to even look at her dinner. She hasn’t eaten this morning so of course, I can’t give her the meds on an empty stomach. She’s been laying on the floor and now just outside of my reach on a pillow on the couch. Her 3 month check up for Cushing’s is in 2 days. As I write this, I’m crying fear the time may be here to call my sons for one last visit with her and to say goodbye! We lost our Chihuahua last year and our other Jack Russell the year before. Kyra is the only one we have now. 🙁

    • I am so sorry Julie. {{hugs}} I remember the hand feeding towards the end, it was the only way Riley would eat. I would see if you could get her in for a emergency visit – every day counts with this disease! I know the pain you are feeling all too well. Just love Kyra lets —- and enjoy every minute. Sending good vibes your way! Jill

  15. Hello, my 10.5 year old pit mix was recently diagnosed with Cushings. She has alot of the symptoms, (panting, excessive thirst, ravenous hunger, only 2 potty accidents, pot bellied, and lose of hair). We are starting her on Vetoryl 120mg today. Any recommendations or things we should be watching for. Ive done so much research on Cushings and the medicine that she will be taking. Just wanted some personal experiance suggestions on things google may not tell me. Thank you.

    • Hi Samantha – sorry about the diagnosis! Outside of what I have written here, there is not much more I can offer. Just keep an eye on her to look for changes in behavior so you can keep her as healthy as possible. Sadly, outside of meds there is not much more you can do other than keep her comfortable. My girl was diagnosed at an older age and lived for a while with it – so praying the same for your girl. {{hugs}}

  16. Harley died yesterday at 4:45 pm. He had Cushings and slow growing bladder cancer. He ate in the morning, had his treats. Started shaking. Then breaking bad. Heart beating way to fast. I just wonder if this was the Cushings. His tests came back inconclusive, He was still peeing fine, just more. What cld have killed him this fast?

    • I am so sorry Marilyn! That is how my Riley went. She passed at home – ate breakfast, went outside that morning to do her thing and a few hours later collapsed in the kitchen and passed when we got to the vet. Unfortunately we will never know the “true” reason they passed, but their bodies just could not take anymore. I know it is hard – but he is not in pain any more and you should take solace in that. Sending you thoughts – and I am truly sorry for your loss. Jill

  17. Hi, my gorgeous beagle was diagnosed with Cushings 18 months ago. She was treated with trilostane with dosage increasing after most blood tests every 6 weeks until her sweet spot was found 6 months ago. Her energy picked up, excessive panting and thirst declined until about 2 weeks ago. I noticed her energy decline, urine increased etc. but still enjoyed her food and a stroll. However last Tuesday I rushed her to the vets as she declined so rapidly. I did bring her home for one more night but sadly and joyously the vet administered her final goodbye while I was nursing her outside in the sun. I say joyously because of the love and quality she bought to my life. My pain is still so raw at her passing but I wouldn’t trade it. She was 12.4 years old. I will miss her all the days of my life. I know eventually it will only be with a smile.

    • I am so sorry Theresa. There are no words to bring comfort – but it sounds like your baby had a good and loving life! My heart goes out to you — and just focus on all those good moments with her. {{{hugs}}} Jill

  18. Thank you all for your insight on cushings I. Dogs, my 12yr old terrier mix was recently diagnosed with possible cushings after her yearly blood work, the vet wanted to do an ultra sound to see if she has a tumor on her pituitary glad or adrenal gland. I opted not to do the test because if she does have a tumor, I would not put her through chemo treatments and nasty drug side effects. Vet wants to re do blood work in a month to see her levels. I have been giving her Denamarin tables daily (at the advice of my vet) and also started her on CBD oil daily. She seems fine and I didn’t see any signs of cushings except for the bloodwork. She has always been a water drinker since bladder stone removal in 2013. She’s on a Urinary SO dog food for life. I am now noticing her fur is changing color on her feet, around her mouth and private area. In looking it up, I saw it could be a yeast condition that can occur with cushings. I will bring it up when I take her back for more bloodwork. Just taking one step at a time. Cloey is a Rescue from Georgia that I adopted when she was 12 weeks old. She’s my sweet, sketchy girl and the thought of having to loose her to Cushing breaks my heart.
    I know you, Felt guilty for not having seen the sign and putting you baby down before she passed on her own.., but don’t. I’ve never had a pet “go on their own” and always had to make the heart wrenching decision on my own. I always wished if it’s time, they just close there eyes and head for the rainbow bridge. My heart goes out to you all that are dealing with Cushing along with me., ❤️

    • Cindy – thank you for sharing your story! I am sorry about Cloey – but it sounds like you are doing everything you can to make her comfortable and happy! And thank you for the comforting words about my girl – it was hard to see her go the way she did. Thankfully when it was her sisters time I was a little more proactive so there was no suffering. It is hard to watch them decline that is for sure! Wishing you much more amazing time with your girl — {{hugs}}. Jill

  19. I don’t understand how people could give their dogs these harsh, toxic medications from the vet, when we have so many natural alternatives that work just as good and sometimes even better.! That Yorkie story BROKE my heart….My sheba will lasted an extra two years on natural Med Cushings killer online. I would never, ever give her those meds with the side effects they have

    • Thank you Deborah for your comments! I have never heard of Cushings Killer and will look into that. I know many of us never really consider alternative meds because we have faith in our vets but do think it is something to be considered! Jill

  20. CUSHINGS KILLER trio online gave Sheba another 2 yrs, WONDERFUL HOLISTIC PRODUCT from a family who went through it. I am an RN and know that medical errors (& med errors, side effects) is top reason people die, & after reading side effects of those 2 drugs, I went holistic & it have my Sheba 2 more yrs! Broke my heart as well, reading about the woman who can’t get over the fact that she put her dog down and it’s been a year. As a psychiatric nurse I think you should go to the doctor and maybe get on some antidepressants and then go down to the pound and RESCUE. another dog! I did AND IT WORKED! Rescues KNOW YOU rescued them and won’t take their eyes off of you…. they will be so GRATEFUL!!! This good ACT OF LOVE should erase any guilt you have & realize you did your very best !!! good luck

  21. This was so helpful, soon I will have to put our beloved rescue down. Roxie is part boxer and Doxie. I know strange sounding. She actually rescued me and has been a great companion. Thanks for sharing your article!

    • I love the “she rescued me” part! I am so sorry that she is not well — if only we could keep them forever! Sending good thoughts your way. Jill

  22. Mine was Applehead chihuahua I did not know anything about Cushing I never understood y she wanted so much water constantly peed blood was hospitalized had other opinions on vets she had so many things wrong it would be way to much to put I CANNOT get over her death I did put her down almost a year ago and I cannot get passed the guilt! In my heart I feel like she’s not suffering now but I also feel so guilty for it her heart was bad for so many years she literally lived on antibiotics off no more than 2 weeks peeing blood again spent fortune on her but just couldn’t fix her I ache for her so bad I cry constantly I just can’t describe it it’s so painful anyways now I’m learning bout this Cushing but too late she would drink enormous bowls of water omg I just can’t talk about her I never knew what that was no diabetes she was always being checked more than a human ty for letting me talk to someone! Terri

    • Hi Terri! I would not put so much guilt on yourself. It sounds like you did everything you could – and she knows that. {{hugs}} Jill

  23. My dear sweet little Ziggy, 12 yr old terrier rescue, was diagnosed with diabetes in June. I was heartbroken…having to have him in and out of vet’s office adjusting insulin. He lost his sight overnight, didn’t think my heart could break anymore. Now vet thinks he may have Cushings. I can’t stand the thought of him having to go thru the testing and to be put on more meds. I love this little dog so so much, crying as I’m typing this. I’m dreading the day that I may have to make the choice…I’m hoping he makes the decision for me.

    • I am so sorry Glenda. It is definitely the hardest part of being a pet parent! He will let you know when it is time, I believe they all do after losing my girls – you just have to keep your eyes and ears open to see the signs he gives. Sending hugs…..Jill

  24. My nearly 16 year old Jack Russell has had Cushing’s for six years so I think it remarkable that she is still with me. Recently she has been shedding enormous amounts of fur and today I had the awful realisation that her fur is so scant it is easy to see her skin. She has become very clingy and we even have cuddles, which she has never wanted. I am sure she is not in pain and is having her quarterly Cushing’s test ACTH on Wednesday. Should I be preparing myself that I may not have her much longer? I am going to be devastated when the time comes but I will not let her suffer.

    • Hi Joan! 6 years is a long time for a dog with Cushing’s! My Riley too became VERY clingy in the lost couple of weeks – and she was always the aloof one who did not need attention. It is said that is a sign – like they know and want to get as much time in as possible before they go. I know how heartbreaking it is, but it sounds like she has had a great life filled with love – and you should cherish those happy moments. {{hugs}} Jill

  25. My Silky has been diagnosed with cushings along with living with a liver mass. I believe the prednisone she was on after becoming anemic a year ago. She’s 15 and has lived a long healthy life. She has been on vetroryl for two days and seems more tired. I read that she shouldn’t be on this drug with liver disease. I’ll call her vet tomorrow. I said goodbye to my golden three months ago and not looking forward to saying goodbye so soon to another love of my life.
    I appreciate any feed back.

    • HI Jayne, I am so sorry about your Silky – but it sounds like she had a great life. Sadly we cannot keep them forever, I wish we could. My Riley passed of Cushing’s in August -the following February I had to put down her sister Ginger so I can relate to that as well. It is tough – but I got through it by remembering that I gave them the best life possible and was there when they both took their last breathes. Then I rescued another dog in their honor…..hang in there, sending good vibes your way. Jill

  26. My 12 year old Charlie boy has Cushings disease, how do I know when to treat him with medication. He doesn’t have all the signs only a few symptoms.?should I treat now?

    • Hi Charlotte – these would really be questions for your vet. I would take him asap to make sure he is on the proper treatment plan to make him as comfortable as possible! Wishing you the best.

  27. Hello I have a very old geriatric 19 years old half staff and in May he had a convulsion for about 5 mins and when he started coming out of it he was foaming at the mouth and up to this day touch wood he has been fine , well I say fine yes he has had no more thankfully . My real concern is that he is drinking a lot and he loves food still , his fur comes out in little bits and his abdomen seems bloated when he lays down and I am concerned that he may have cushions , I know I have got to make a big decision but I look at him and think that he is ok but he is not really . I can’t carry him up stairs to give him baths so I have to rinse him down with out in garden quite a lot as he wee in him bed and constantly washing the towels , so any suggestions would be good please thank you . Jill Smithers

    • Hi Jill, sorry about your baby, but 19 is a heck of a great number of years to have with your pet! I would take him to the vet asap to get a formal diagnose so you can make a more informed decision. I am not a vet so would not be able to give advice. Wishing you and your boy the best….{{hugs}}.

  28. Hi ,
    My little rescue was a chihuahua mix, about 13 to 14 lbs. I had him for 10. 1/2 years. He first was diagnosed with a heart murmur of 3 when I first adopted him, which didn’t need medication til it progressed about 5 years ago. Dodger was diagnosed with diabetes a year after that . Within 6 months that dose did not seem to help his symptoms and glucose level so hiS insulin dose was increased. This has been a roller coaster so my timeline may be a little off ( endrocine nightmare). Then we had an episode of just excessive urinating and panting so I took him back to vet group and this particular vet suspected Cushing’s and ran the blood work and it was confirmed. My dog was on Vetmedin, enalipril and Ladin for his but had to decrease enalipril due to starting on Vetoryl for Cushing’s due to causing due these two drugs reacting and causing potassium to go up and cause irregular heartbeat. At one point he would just pee on floor right after being taken out a short while, so would take him in, his insulin would. Be doubled., He had back to back corneal Uclers which are very painful. He was receiving insulin shots in am and pm , vetmidin, vetoryl , enalipril, 1/2 lasix in am and pm. At one point go very sick and vet kept him, took off all meds, then just back on insulin, vetoryl and lasix twice a day.!then had to add a 1/4 of cerenia for congestive cough. Then the last 6 lonths added uradisol for gall bladder buildup. Last 3 months had to add lasix to whole pill twice a day and add enalipril back. 6 pills in morning, 5 pills at nigh, insulin am pm and eye drops twice a week to help with cloudiness.
    Three weeks ago took him in because he seemed to act as if he just came out of anesthesia. Vet kept and observe but she felt he was ok and no adjustment needed. He came home and I felt he started acting similar again, my mom agreed . I sort of wondered if I was overreacting but he wasn’t improving so took him back and then thought he must have had some type of bleed or stroke. After xrays, his heart was so enlarged to a 6, blood was pooling and they think that he would need to go on blood thinners. Told me to just go home and see how he does and I asked that I needed to know if this was time for me stop. She said let’s just see. After a a day and half , I said this is enough, he is laying around, half eating, weak legged, so this Friday Aug 7 and she asked me to schedule Monday Aug 10th to help him cross the rainbow bridge.. my choice was to be Sat before they closed because I didn’t want him to suffer but my husband was away and on his way back but could not make it before they closed. I called after hours and vet on call said first thing Sunday after church. So my little Dodger crossed the bridge Sunday. The vet could not have been any nicer, the whole staff, I had him cremated individually got his ashes. In a small cherry box. He was a trooper. My only regret is I wish I had maybe would have done it a few days earlier but he decline so fast and I was trying to wait on family members .
    I feel blessed to have had him in my life , always in my heart, was able to afford the expense of medicine, the void is heartbreaking now and hope I never have another rescue with Cushing’s but if I die I will know the signs but it won’t make it easier. I am glad he found his way to me, he had been mistreated and I saw him on a news program up for adoption. He had two owners before me but we rescued each other 🐾❤️

    • Hi Ramona, Thank you for sharing your story and Dodger sounded like quite the fighter. It sounds like you did everything you could and letting him go in peace was the right thing. Thank you for giving him what sounds one amazing home – and life. My thoughts go out to you and your family on your loss. Jill

  29. My dog Motley is a rescue and is “about” 11 years old. He too has Cushings. He has a great appetite, a little active, but has become unable to hold himself at night & wont wake me up. He is ruining my carpets. He does fine during the day, but I’m here with him & awake. I dont know what to do? Any suggestions? Please dont tell me this is a sign it’s time to put him down!

    • Hi Kathy! I am sorry about the diagnose but am glad he is doing OK so far that is great! The leaking and peeing is a big issue. The only thing you can really do is go the doggie diaper route at night. I would not recommend the crate since you do not want him sleeping in it. Honestly the peeing for us was the biggest issue! I am actually going to be reviewing some products I was just sent for pet urine stains – which may help you too! But doggie diapers are the option I wish I had taken because my hardwood floors are a mess.

  30. Thank you for your article; it’s very clear and direct. My Golden is 11.5 yrs old and was diagnosed w a tumor in his anal gland 17 months ago. My vet has said in prior visits that he doesn’t “look like a Cushings dog”. From his current symptoms and what I’ve been learning, I believe he most likely does have Cushings at this point.
    I’ve decided not to take him to the vet for bloodwork etc. I love my boy dearly, I have PTSD and he is my emotional support animal. And, he and I have been through a lot the last 3 years; pneumonia twice, a pseudomonas infection that led to the surgical removal of his ear drum and then the tumor. He is afraid of the vet now and honestly I am in debt over 20k. Had his cancer been curable, I might have opted for chemo when this first started, I have had all this extra, relatively good quality time w him. What worries me though is that he will suddenly start seizing and he will leave this life uncomfortably. I Know what signs to look for as far as the tumor goes, but what signs would I see w Cushings that would signal its time, before we get to something awful?
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Maddy – I am so sorry about all you have been through but am glad you had your boy by your side. Cushing’s signs can vary greatly with each dog. For me – it was not necessarily a Cushing’s related signal – but I had noticed my not so clingy girl was super clingy that last week. Like she was trying to tell me something – that I sadly chose to ignore. The panting was the other biggie – which would be Cushing’s related. It is hard to know what those signs are – but in retrospect I knew it was time – she was telling me, and I ignored it because I could not let her go. Your boy will change, you will see it and you will know. Wishing you both the best! {{hugs}}

  31. I am so glad I came across your story. I have an 11.5 year old boxer who was just diagnosed with Cushing’s disease a month ago. I took my handsome boy in for his annual check up and then two days later got the call about his blood work. I took him back to do the testing and it was confirmed that he had Cushing’s. But to my devastation the medication was going to cost about $200 a month plus every two weeks taking him back for retesting at about $250 each time… I have unfortunately decided to not treat this disease and instead give my boy all the love and attention that he wants. He too is having hair loss and sores that are not healing well, I spend extra time cleaning his sores. He still has the excessive thirst and peeing but his appetite has gone down, he is not so interested in food unless I put something off my plate in his bowl. Also the panting isn’t as bad as it use to be, most likely because he lays on his bed and watches my every move. I know that time is coming and I will have to make that tough decision for us both so between now and then I will pamper him and keep him comfortable!!

    • Hi Shelby, I am so sorry! I cannot imagine how hard of a decision that was for you. 11.5 is a long life for a Boxer – and there is no doubt he knows how much you love him…….my heart goes out to you. Enjoy every minute with him…….Jill

      • I’m so sorry you & your fur baby are facing this. Have you checked the price of medicine with Chewy, Petco, or one of those pet supply companies? I saved over $50 buying from one of them opposed to buying from my vet. It’s just a suggestion. I wish you luck & prayers.

    • Hi,
      You can buy an amazing herbal product form Amazon called Cushex S and Cushex M.I improved my little boys quality of life and symptoms using these drops.They are so easy to give directly or in food and very cost effective with no horrible side effects.

      Wishing you all the very best,xx

  32. Hi,
    Your article was very helpful for me. Our family dog is 13 years old (3 years more than his breed usually last) and he has Cushing’s. He’s getting to the point where he’s tired all the time, and will only get up to pee, or eat or drink. He’s having accidents too, without knowing it. He appointment to be put down is tomorrow. My heart is breaking but I know it’s the right thing because we know it’s not fair to keep him here anymore when he has no quality to his life. We will be taking his ashes and getting them made into pendants and he will be with us always

    • Hi Sidney,

      I am so terribly sorry about your baby – and I know the pain is huge right now. Sending virtual hugs —- and lots of thoughts your way. Jill

  33. So here goes nothing…. my husband and I rescued our girl from an abusive situation. Shes had one surgery so far and it was right after we got her, because she wasn’t fixed and went septic. After the surgery, she started gaining weight, i knew that was normal. About 4 months ago I noticed she was drinking a ton of water and it was getting harder for her to get up. As soon as she drinks, she has to go to the bathroom. I took her to our vet, they tested her urine and said she had a UTI, but her liver and kidney function was low. While on the antibiotics she started doing better, but a week after the antibiotics were gone she went right back to it again. We are going back to the vet on Friday to do blood work, they are checking for Cushing any advice would be great.
    Thank you

    • Hi Tiffany – first thank you for saving her! Sounds like you and your husband are her angels. You will need to find out the type of Cushing’s she has which will determine the course of action you will need to take. My girl had a pituitary tumor which could not be removed so we knew we were on limited time and just gave her the best life possible. I have no advice — other than love her – spoil her – keep her comfortable and embrace every minute! Wishing you the best outcome! Jill

  34. Hi,

    I took over care of my fathers boston terrier after he passes. The dog is 12 1/2 years old. He is blind and constantly has an ulcerated cornea. One eye had to be removed because it became so infected. This was after 4 days of taking the dog in. He started trilostane about 2 weeks ago. He still drinks a ton of water, eats ravenously, paces, whines endlessly at night, he sleeps all day. He cannot get in and out of the house on his own so i carry him. He paces and goes in circles and whines. He is starting to develop skin issues, mostly peeling skin and some hair loss. Endless diarrhea even with the mediation that should help that The last few days he has pooping and peeing in the house. I feel i should let him go with his dignity but am so unsure. I have spoken to a lot of dog people ( I am not one, only have this dog by default) and they all say they regret no putting their dogs down earlier. I am taking him to the vet this week for a blood test to see if the trilostane has done anything. I will make a decision after that appointment. Any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated, I’ve learned from the other comments to this post.

    • Hi Tina, I am so sorry to hear your baby is not feeling well. Of course I cannot make such an important decision for you – but like I noted in this post, I wish I had let my baby go before she had that last miserable day. Seeing them suffer or be uncomfortable is hard – and not the way I would want them to go. It sounds like your dog has so many issues, some which may be uncomfortable for him. That is the biggest take away on this decision in my opinion? Is the discomfort limiting his enjoyment of life? We of course cannot know for sure – but think about how you would feel with the issues he has……whatever you decide – he knows he is love – and in the end, that is what matters. Sending good vibes…..and a hug….{{hug}}. Jill

  35. I’m crying as I read this because my 10 year old boxer was diagnosed with Cushings about 6 months ago and the disease has hit him like a mack truck. My poor dog started developing skin issues that only got progressively worse. The lethargy, excessive thirst and appetite came on so fast. And now he’s showing signs that he is going blind. He already has to be carried up and down the stairs to go out. He’s been on vetoryl and every other hoilstic adrenal treatment I can spend my money on. I feel very selfish. Like I’m prolonging the enevetable. I know I have to make a decision, I would hate to imagine how scary it would be for him to lose sight completely. My heart is breaking.💔

    • I am so sorry Natasha. It is the hardest decision you will ever make – Cushings was tough on my girl, she was strong and stubborn and watching her weaken so quickly was horrible so I get what you are going through. You will or may already know if it is the right time – just try and listen so your sweet boy does not suffer. {{hugs}}

  36. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been up with my Yorkie for a couple of hours trying to keep her calm and watching as she coughs and snorts so badly she sounds like she will choke to death. She is nearly 18. She was diagnosed with Cushings about 2 years ago. She’s been on trilostane just for a couple of months now. The vet was hesitant due to her age. I thought it was helping and then it seems like a switch went off and she’s not doing well at all. Increased urination (didn’t even think that was possible given that she was already going literally every hour). Vision and hearing has been worse. She’s getting lost in strange places in the house. She is pacing uncontrollably. I’ve struggled for a week trying to decide what to do. Your article has confirmed my thoughts that she needs to go with dignity and grace instead of suffering. It is just very hard. Thank you again for sharing your story.

    • Hi Michelle, I am so sorry to hear about your baby! The pacing – that was one of the worst issues Riley had at the end – which I have heard means they are just uncomfortable. I know this is a horrible decision to have to make – but almost 18 years is an AMAZING life! Keep those happy days in your mind – and know she understands you are doing what you think is right. I wish I had made that choice for Riley because her passing was not at all peaceful and I still regret it. Sending you hugs and good thoughts……

      • My little Maltese COOKIE is 12 years old. During this pandemic she became ill with keto acidosis. We took her to the vet and after a short hospitalization, she rebounded, was diagnosed with diabetes. After coming to the right dosage of insulin, she developed Cushing disease and alopecia. She is on a special diabetes prescription food. She has become so skinny. Her bones are visible. Especially because she has so little hair. She does seem weak.

        • I am so sorry Lyndee. It has never easy watching them get older! Just enjoy EVERY minute you have with her and keep on eye on the signs she gives you letting you know she is ready. Even if you may not be……sending positive vibes to you and Cookie. Jill


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