Thursday, July 24, 2014

Having a Case of Old Dog Vs. Having Cushing's Disease: An Ellie Story

So Ellie girl hasn't been doing so hot lately.  I wish I could say it was just over the last few weeks or even few months, but in all honesty she has been going down hill for the last couple of years.  It's been hard and heartbreaking, but she is nearly 13 years old...

I am not sure what started first, everything was so gradual, but she had lots of things going on that both us and her vet chalked up to her getting older.  She was sleeping more, had stiff joints, was more insistent about having her dinner, drinking a ton of water, getting in the trash sometimes, having accidents in the house... stuff that was out of character, but were all things we figured came on with age.

But then a couple of odd things happened.  First, her hair was coming out.  Or actually, we cut her hair, and it never grew back right.  I asked the vet, he said that is also an old dog thing.  Bummer.  I mean, I hate for her to not have her beautiful hair, but oh well.  Old age is a bitch.  Then she started getting some actual bald spots.  Which... really strange, right? 

Then she started losing a lot of weight.  This one was more worrisome.  And with the weight loss came even stiffer joints.  So we asked about these things at the vet a couple of months ago and they once again said she was getting older, to feed her more and see if it helps, and to take this medication for her joints. They said we could hold off on blood work until we saw if that helped.

Well, those things didn't help.  Even with doubling her food she lost more weight. Then this weekend she fell when trying to get up.  It was heartbreaking.  So Monday we went back and saw a new doctor.  He took one look at her and said "Cushing's Disease"

I just looked at him.  I thought he was going to say it was time.  And instead he throws out this disease that is basically a hormonal imbalance that is completely treatable.   Two blood tests later it was confirmed.  Our girl has Cushing's.

They say she will be like her old self again. I can't even imagine.  And even though the vet had agreed several times that these signs and symptoms these last few years looked more like aging than anything treatable, the guilt is pretty bad.  Our girl, who we thought we were about to lose, was just really really sick.  Here's hoping she starts feeling like her old self again really soon.


  1. You know we understand and empathize. When they get old it just rips your heart out. My Terri had Cushings Disease and I gave her injections for quite a while before we lost her. She too was an old lady. I hope Ellie gets better and is able to stay with you a while longer. Don't feel guilty about not knowing she was sick. That was the vet's job and he let you down. A blood test would/should have shown it immediately.

  2. We missed our dog having it too. Unfortunately it was too late for him so don't feel guilty. Cushings fools a lot of people. So glad it was caught now. :-)