Dog hormone disorders are common in every breed of dog, every age dog and in both male and female dogs. This is important because hormone imbalances will wreak havoc with your dog’s body and make him very ill.
What Causes Hormonal Disorders in Dogs?
The system that balance your dog’s hormones is very complicated. For example, hormones in your dog’s body work to control your dog’s temperature and keep blood sugars under control.
To make things more complicated, sometimes pairs of hormones work against each other, to maintain the balance.
If you suspect that your dog has a hormone imbalance, Dr. Mercola’s Adrenal Balance formula contains quality ingredients that can help support cortisol and hormone balances.
What Causes an Imbalance of Hormones?
Injury to a gland – When an endocrine gland is destroyed or weakened, too little hormone is produced. Diseases caused by an under-production of a hormone begin with the prefix “hypo”. Hypothyroidism is an example of this. In this case, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
Mixed signals – A tumor that is outside the endocrine system can produce a substance that mimics a hormone. When this happens, the dog’s body is confused and it responds to the fake hormone.
Auto-immune diseases – With an auto-immune disease, a dog’s body to attacks its own organs or systems. The dog’s body falsely identifies some of its own tissues as foreign, and it destroys the tissue cells.
Change in response – Sometimes a gland or tissue in your dog’s body does not respond normally. For example, with diabetes mellitus, a dog still produces insulin but his body no longer responds to it. We often see diabetes mellitus in overweight dogs.
Examples of Dog Hormone Disorders
We classify dog hormone disorders, based on the gland or system that is affected.
Adrenal Gland Disorders
The adrenal glands in a dog are located just in front of the kidneys.
Cushing’s Disease – Most often seen in older dogs, Cushing’s disease is caused by the production of too much cortisol. In fact, tumors on the pituitary gland cause up to 90% of Cushing’s disease cases in dogs.
Addison’s Disease – When a dog’s body produces too little cortisol, we call this condition Addison’s disease. Most dogs diagnosed with Addison’s are young to middle-aged. Symptoms of Addison’s disease can develop slowly. Dogs with this condition are often diagnosed when they have an adrenal crisis, which is a life-threatening emergency.
Pheochromocytomas – Pheochromocytomas are tumors of the adrenal medulla, which is part of the adrenal glands. The adrenal medulla produces epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine. Both of these serve to increase heart output, blood pressure and blood glucose and they slow digestion. Often there are no signs of this, and a vet discovers the tumor during treatment for other conditions.
Disorders of the Pancreas
The pancreas is made of several kinds of cells, each having its own purpose or function. The hormones produced in the pancreas aid digestion and control blood sugars.
Diabetes mellitus – Most common in middle-aged dogs, diabetes strikes female dogs twice as often as males and it can affect any breed. Diabetes is a disorder that affects the digestion of carbohydrates. It is caused by a deficiency of insulin or by insulin resistance.
Functional Islet Cell Tumors – Tumors in the islet cells of the pancreas cause this condition. They make and secrete the hormones normally controlled by the pancreas. A dog with these tumors has low blood sugar, periodic seizures, and may have temperament changes like agitation.
Pituitary Gland Disorders
The pituitary gland is located at the center and bottom of your dog’s brain. This gland is so important that it is often called the “Master Gland” of the body. The pituitary gland produces a number of different hormones.
Cushing’s disease – Caused by too much cortisol, Cushing’s attacks middle-aged to old dogs. Because Cushing’s can have many different symptoms, it is hard to diagnose. Cushing’s is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, a tumor on the adrenal glands or by excessive steroids which were prescribed for another condition like arthritis.
Adult-onset Panhypopituitarism – This occurs when the pituitary gland is compressed or damaged by a tumor, infection or injury. We see this most often in older dogs. A dog with this condition shows a change in attitude (not obeying commands), and they may become shy and hide. A dog may drink huge amounts of water and urinate a lot, sometimes becoming incontinent in the house.
Juvenile-onset Panhypopituitarism – This is when the front part of the pituitary gland does not develop or its growth is interrupted by a tumor. This leads to a lack of growth hormone. Juvenile-onset panhypopuitarism is a genetic disorder and is inherited. Puppies will grow normally until they are about 2 months old. After that, they will grow more slowly than their litter mates, and they will keep their puppy coats. Eventually they lose all their hair, and they never develop permanent teeth.
Thyroid Gland Disorders
Hypothyroidism – Most often seen in middle-aged to older dogs, hypothyroidism is a lack of thyroid hormone production. This condition slows metabolism and affects the function of all your dog’s organ systems. Your dog will gain weight, lose hair and may be sensitive to cold weather.
Hyperthyroidism – The opposite of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is too much thyroid hormone in your dog’s system. With this condition, your dog will lose weight, eat more and have an increased heart rate.
Hyperparathyroidism – The parathyroid glands work closely with the thyroid gland in dogs. They control calcium levels in the blood. When a dog has hyperparathyroidism, he has too little calcium in his blood. This condition can lead to lameness, weakness, bone deformities and spontaneous bone fractures.
Dog hormone disorders occur in dogs of all ages, male or female and in dogs of any breed. They symptoms are wide and varied and they affect every system of a dog’s body. And, because the balance of hormones in a dog’s body is so delicate, your vet will need to do lab tests to see if is an imbalance.
What Part Does the Endocrine System Play in Dog Diseases?
The endocrine system is a group of glands and organs in your Bichon Frise’s body. These glands produce chemical messengers or compounds, called hormones. You are probably familiar with hormones like insulin which controls blood sugars and helps digest carbohydrates. And your female dog produces the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which influence her reproductive system.
Hormones are made of proteins or fatty substances that we know as steroids. Glands produce these hormones and then release them into your dog’s blood. However, some organs, the heart, kidneys and liver, in particular, also make and release hormones.
In addition, some hormones act on one organ or tissue in your dog’s body, while others affect almost every cell in your dog’s body.
Hormones Have a Delicate Balance
While hormones play an important part in your dog’s health, your dog’s blood has only very small amounts of each one. This means that laboratory tests used to measure hormones, must be very sensitive.
This is important, because the amount of a hormone needed by a specific organ or tissue is very precise. If your Bichon has too little or too much of a hormone, she can develop a hormonal disorder.
As your dog gets older, he is more likely to have imbalanced hormones. This is because an older dog has seen natural wear and tear on his endocrine glands. Also, senior dogs are more likely to get auto-immune diseases which can affect the endocrine system.
Amazingly, a single hormone that is out of balance, can affect several of your dog’s body systems and functions, causing a number of symptoms.