Addison's disease, also known as
hypoadrenocorticism, is an extremely rare condition in cats but can
be potentially devastating when it does occur.
What Causes Addison's Disease
The adrenal glands, located next to
the kidneys, produce a variety of hormones including those that allow
animals to respond to stressful situations (glucocorticoids) and those
thatmaintain normal fluid and electrolyte levels in the body (mineralocorticoids).
When the adrenal glands do not produce adequate amounts of these hormones,
Addison's disease is the result. Usually, the cat's own immune
system has attacked and destroyed her adrenal tissues, creating Addison's
disease. Less frequently, other causes such as drug therapy are
responsible. For example, the sudden withdrawal of high doses
of corticosteroids (e.g., prednisolone or dexamethasone) may cause Addison's
disease in cats.
The Signs of Addison's Disease
The symptoms of Addison's disease
in cats can include:
- increased thirst
- poor appetite
- weight loss
With severe Addison's disease, extremely
low glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid production causes a condition
known as an Addisonian crisis. Affected cats may collapse, have
extremely slow and irregular heart rates, and die.
Routine blood work may hint at the
presence of Addison's disease, especially if an electrolyte panel
is included. Finding low sodium and high potassium in the blood
is suggestive, but other diseases can cause these results also.
An ACTH stimulation test is required to definitively diagnose all cases
of Addison's disease.
Veterinary and Home Care
Cats in the midst of an Addisonian
crisis will need to be hospitalized for intravenous fluid therapy, glucocorticoid
injections, normalization of the body's electrolyte levels, and close
monitoring. Long-term therapy includes medications to replace the missing
mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid hormones.
acetate – an oral medication
that has good mineralocorticoid and some glucocorticoid activity.
Additional supplementation with glucocorticoids may or may not be necessary.
Percorten-V – an injection given about once every
25 days to replace natural mineralocorticoids. Additional supplementation
with glucocorticoids is necessary.
prednisolone – a glucocorticoid that may be given at
low doses regularly and/or at higher doses during times of stress.
Addison's disease cannot be cured
but with a dedicated owner, affected cats can live long and happy lives.
The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition.
This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not
be considered complete. Certain product or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of
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