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Addison’s Disease In Dogs-Part 3 of 4

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The previous posts in this series covered symptoms and tests used to diagnose Addison’s in dogs, this week is dedicated to monitoring treatment.

Once a dog begins treatment for Addison’s, regular blood tests are needed to monitor electrolyte levels.  Depending on the meds your dog is taking, blood tests may be done as often as weekly initially, then taper off once the electrolyte level reaches normal level.  Once the dog is stabilized, follow-up blood work may only be 2-4 times a year.

If a dog’s behavior or energy level seems off, it may mean his electrolyte level is out of line and should be checked.  Dehydration or elevated potassium level can indicate the med dosage is too low.  A rise in potassium level can cause a slow heart rate, while low potassium levels may cause severe muscle weakness.  If you observe either of these with your pet, consult your vet and he/she will determine if med levels need to be adjusted.

Cortisol levels aren’t monitored by blood tests, but by observing the dog’s behavior.  Signs to watch for that may indicate the med dosage is too high include:  panting, hair loss, and excessive thirst and urination.  Signs that the glucocorticoid med level may be too low include:  lack of energy or appetite, vomiting or diarrhea.

It may take a while to find the right dosage for your dog.  If your dog was stabilized, but now you’re observing any of the symptoms above, consult with your vet immediately to determine what med changes may be necessary to get your dog back on the right track and feeling his best!

Source:  Whole Dog Journal, October 2011


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