October 28, 2018

“My dog is doing great but…”

Since we’re heading into the autumn SARD season, I thought I’d try again to offer a few words of advice. I know SARD dog owners struggle emotionally with this diagnosis. There are feelings of grief and loss and anger. I know the dogs struggle, too.  For over a decade I’ve received emails or read posts that start like this.

“My dog is doing great but…”

• She was just diagnosed with an enlarged liver
• She is ravenous
• He is drinking a lot of water and has accidents in the house
• The snoring keeps me awake at night
• She’s put on a lot of weight and has trouble getting around
• He is acting kind of confused
• She is panting hard
• He’s so lethargic, he’s just a bump on a log
• She wet her bed during the night
• Her belly is so bloated
• She recently had a seizure and was taken to the emergency room
• She wakes up every 2-3 hours wanting to eat or go out
• Her liver values are high
• She constantly licks between her toes
• She’s lost her sense of smell
• She has stomach issues and diarrhea
• She’s just been diagnosed with kidney failure
• He has awful skin sores
• She gets chronic bladder infections

The list goes on and on.  Year after year after year.  These same dog owners also write:

• A few tests have ruled out Cushings
• Cushings blood work is completely normal
• ACTH and LDDS tests and are negative for Cushing’s
• They are still trying to find Cushings. She has a biopsy and an ultrasound scheduled
• We had our girl tested for Cushings. It came back negative

If you are “in a place” where you can accept that there is an underlying problem and that the problem is not Cushing’s disease [1,2], then simply ask your vet to run an adrenal estrogen level. That’s all. You don’t have to believe in my work. Just run an adrenal estrogen level and see what it says. NVDS is the more affordable option and requires only a single blood draw. UTCVM recommends an ACTH component. This can be more expensive and invasive but your general practice vet might prefer it.

Good luck.


[1] Van der Woerdt A, Nasisse MP, Davidson MG. Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration in the dog: clinical findings in 36 cases. Progress in Comparative Ophthalmology 1991; 1: 11-18.

[2] Gilmour MA, Cardenas MR, Blaik MA, Bahr RJ, McGinnis JF. Evaluation of a comparative pathogenesis between cancer-associated retinopathy in humans and sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome in dogs via diagnostic imaging and western blot analysis  American Journal of Veterinary Research 2006; 67, 5; 877-881