Many of my articles discuss estrogen levels in SARD dogs. Other sex-hormones are typically elevated as well. This article will focus on the effects of elevated androgens— testosterone and androstenedione.
As you read on, I’d like you to keep in your mind an image of the typical teenage boy. Maybe you can picture him standing in front of the refrigerator saying, “Mom, I’m starving!” He’s filling out and putting on weight. He may have acne, greasy skin or hair, maybe even body odor. These are some of the same problems we see in SARD dogs.
Other signs of elevated androgens include male and female pattern baldness. In SARD dogs we see bilateral flank alopecia (hair loss) and/or hair thinning along the spinal column.
Elevated androgens contribute to mood changes such as aggression, depression and anxiety. They may alter sleep patterns, contributing to insomnia—all problems we see in SARD dogs.
Since androgens are steroid hormones like estrogen, they too can aggravate heart disease, cause liver damage, raise serum cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
But perhaps the most common problem facing these dogs (second to vision loss) is the increased appetite and weight gain. Excess androgens interfere with insulin, leptin, and ghrelin activity. All of which communicate with the appetite center in the brain.
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome—a condition in which women suffer elevated testosterone levels—report a constant and overwhelming urge to eat, sometimes to the point of disrupting their sleep. They share comments such as, “I’m always hungry, I never feel full,” or “I have an insatiable appetite.” They report extreme difficulty keeping their weight at normal levels saying, “I can’t get the weight off no matter what I do,” and “The struggle never ends. It is so hard to walk into the kitchen and not want to stuff myself.”
So, when a SARD dog owner asks me, “What can I do to curb my dog’s appetite?” the answer is simple. Treat the elevated sex-hormones. Dietary measures such as calorie restrictions, adding green beans or canned pumpkin are simply band-aids that don’t address the underlying problem.
Ask your general practice veterinarian to test for adrenal exhaustion here or here. The protocol is here. Odds are excellent that your dog will feel better when elevated sex hormone levels are corrected.
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Sam S. Obesity and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Obesity Management, 2007 Apr; 3(2): 69–73.
Sam S, Dunaif A. Polycystic ovary syndrome: syndrome XX? Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2003 Oct;14(8):365-70.
Linden Hirschberg A, Naessen S, Stridsberg M, Bystrom B, Holte J. Impaired cholecystokinin secretion and disturbed appetite regulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecological Endocrinology 2004; 19(2): 79-87.
Hirschberg AL, Sex hormones, appetite and eating behaviour in women. Maturitas, 2012 Mar;71(3):248-56.
Elbers JM, Asscheman H, Seidell JC, Megens JA, Gooren LJ. Long-Term Testosterone Administration Increases Visceral Fat in Female to Male Transsexuals. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, July 1997; 82(7): 2044–2047.