How long does a dog live with Cushing’s disease?

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

What is Cushing’s disease in dogs?

One question may come up in your mind that how long does a dog live with cushing’s disease, right? If you are really looking to get the answer to that question then you first need to know what is cushing’s disease is.. So I’d recommend you to continue reading this article to get all the questions answers related to cushing’s disease in dogs.

Cushing’s disease is a very rare condition that results in excess production of cortisol in the body of your beloved pet. When this cortisol is released in more than the required amount then it becomes a disease. This can be caused due to a tumor in the adrenal or pituitary gland that can trigger the disease.

Cushing’s disease can’t be called slow death, but it does make your pet suffer as there are tremendous side-effects of it. This condition is rare but still something that one must not neglect. If your pet shows any signs of Cushing’s disease, we’d recommend you to take your pet to the vet.

How long does a dog live with Cushing’s disease?

Unlike the common belief, dogs with Cushing’s disease can live for a long time. There are some dogs that live just as much as a healthy dog, but the only difference is the quality of life. Cushing’s disease has so many symptoms and side-effects that can make the life of your pet miserable and filled with pain. But it is also not true for all cases.

There is a certain life expectancy of dogs with Cushing’s disease. If it is in adrenal glands then the expectancy is 35-36 months and if it is in pituitary glands then the expectancy drops down to 30 months.

My Own Dog’s Story

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

When Winnie was 4 Years Old 

She was 4 years old golden retriever. I met Winnie at an NGO from where I adopted her. She was the most energetic dog I had ever met. She loved cuddling and petting. She used to love long walks. For many years she was healthy. She never showed any serious symptoms of disease apart from bloating and stomach issues. But those were very rare.

The problems started happening as she got older. She was showing symptoms of sickness and lost her playfulness. She’d only sleep for long hours. So, I took her to the vet.

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

The vet is checking Winnie

I told the vet about the symptoms and she ran some tests. After diagnosis, she revealed that my poor Winnie was on the last stage of Cushing’s disease and it was only getting worse. So, the vet prescribed some medications and those medications improved the symptoms.

The medications didn’t completely treat the disease, but it did help in providing comfort and lowering down the side-effects of the disease. I would request you to read below if you want to know about Cushing’s disease and want to improve the health of your pet.

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

Tired Winnie

Even though I tried everything, her old age took her life. But at least she was able to get rid of years of sickness for a small period of time and was actually happy after the medications started.

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

Playing with my son before 2 months of her last breath

Types of Cushing Disease

In order to deal with Cushing’s disease, one must know that it has two types. One is pituitary dependent and other is adrenal dependent. Now, to differentiate between them, blood tests are carried out. If the tumor forms in adrenal gland then it can also be detected with the help of an ultrasound. One must look out for the symptoms at early stages. The two types of diseases can be easily differentiated and the treatment can only begin post-identification.


When it comes to Cushing’s, around 80% of it tends to be pituitary-dependent. So, basically, a tumor has the ability to trigger it at the brain’s base on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is known for the production of adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH. So, a tumor leads to overproduction of ACTH in the pituitary gland, which then gets dissipated all the way to the adrenal gland which produces more and more cortisol.


Unlike pituitary glands, around 20% cases revolve around a tumor that can be located in either one or both of the adrenal glands which as we said earlier can lead to excessive cortisol. Now, these numbers aren’t specific and can change. But overall, these are the types of Cushing’s disease that one must look out for.

Symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs

When it comes to the symptoms, then you can’t be 100% sure because the symptoms of Cushing’s are similar to other diseases. Also, most of the symptoms of the disease are not very apparent in dogs. But still, these signs can also help in identifying the disease.

Usually, a vet can better help in determining the Cushing’s disease. A vet’s job is to run tests in order to identify the disease. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, then maybe it’s time for a visit to the vet:

  • Increased appetite
  • Frequent accidents
  • Obesity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Skin issues
  • Stomach Bloating
  • Lack of energy
  • Patchy skin

These are some of the signs that you have to look out for. Apart from these signs, there’s also infertility, darkening of the skin, dehydration etc., that can indicate Cushing’s disease.

Test to determine Cushing’s disease in the dog

Since there are different types of Cushing’s diseases in dogs so there’s no specific way to diagnose disease. Also, the symptoms felt by victims is mostly similar to a lot of different medical condition felt by dogs that lie in the same group. This is the reason why sometimes it takes a little bit of time for diagnosis.

Usually, it’s the dogs with longstanding health issues that are more likely to test positive rather than the ones that are actually suffering from Cushing’s disease. So, if you are taking your pet to the vet then make sure that the vet knows about all the medical history of the dog.

Treatment for Cushing’s disease

In cases of a tumor in the adrenal glands, the treatment usually involves around surgery, which can successfully remove the tumor. Now, this might not be possible in all cases as sometimes tumor can spread to the other parts of the body and surgery might not be possible in such cases. That’s when medications step in.

Usually, the medication treatment lasts a lifetime of the dog. If the tumor forms in pituitary glands then surgery isn’t helpful. You need to rely on medicines to see better results. The most common drug is trilostane. This can help in improving the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.

Available Medications

When it comes to treating Cushing’s disease in dogs, there are many treatment options available. But it is the vet who decides what treatment should be given to dog because there are different types of Cushing’s diseases and so are their treatments.

If a tumor is located in pituitary glands then medications can be used for treatment. One of the most common medication for treatment of Cushing’s disease is Mitotane.

And if a tumor is located in adrenal glands then surgery can be done in order to remove it. So, always take the vet’s advice before starting any medication.

A holistic approach to a dog with Cushing’s Disease

Now, if you want to treat Cushing’s disease, then you can’t just see the symptoms and buy the medicines accordingly. In order to treat your beloved pet, there are many factors that should be considered before taking any decision.

If your dog’s suffering from Cushing’s disease and it has taken a toll on its mental health then it is always advised to proceed with caution. Sometimes, certain treatment can trigger anxiety and depression in animals and can lead to further damage. So, don’t just rely on symptoms in order to treat your pet.

But if you are looking for some medicines that actually work, then you can consider the medicines mentioned below. I personally feel that these medicines are quite effective even though I had put these medicines as the last resort.

When my Winnie was on the last stage of disease, I started these medications and they were able to provide her comfort in her worst days. I don’t mind saying that the regular usage of these medicines can actually show improvement in the long run and a lot of Cushing’s disease’s problems can be prevented.

Adrenal Harmony by Pet Wellbeing

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

This medicine from Pet Wellbeing shows amazing results in a short period of time. It is a product prepared with the help of herbs which are ethically wild-harvested, certified organic or imported selectively. Their product is tested and comes from a trusted owner.

It has holistic natural support for Cushing’s, which is vet formulated. It helps in improving the natural hair growth of your pet and also in improving the quality of the coat. It also improves the signs of Cushing’s diseases such as supporting the normal urination and thirst.

Also, it helps in supporting a healthy weight as well as a normal appetite. I’d totally recommend this product to those looking for a treatment for Cushing’s disease.

Adrenal Support for Dogs by OmegaPet

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

This next medicine in my list is an adrenal support treatment from OmegaPet. It is made to tackle the Cushing’s disease. The best part about this medicine is that unlike other medicines, it doesn’t cause irritation or suppress symptoms.

Adrenal balance’s holistic approach is what made it best for my Winnie. So, I would recommend this product without hesitation to anyone looking for a good treatment.

It is 100% herbal so it provides natural support to adrenal glands of pets suffering from Cushing’s disease’s symptoms.

Recommended Diet during Cushing’s disease

No treatment can ever be successful without a proper diet. If the diet of your pet isn’t good then it can get really hard for it to tackle the disease. Cushing’s disease can make your pet really tired, so it is important to maintain a proper diet in order to retain your pet’s energy.

But it is not enough. You have to cut down some things from your pet’s regular diet that may cause a problem in the future. The things you can give are raw vegetables, bits of fruits and egg.

Also, you can give raw meat, muscle meat, and organ meat. Some vets are known to recommend raw salmon. You can also give dietary supplements.

Is there any quick cure?

Sadly, there’s no such thing as a quick cure. If you want to treat your pet’s disease, then you have to give it some time. Treatments take days of medication and healing. There are some medications available in the market that promise to treat Cushing’s disease in a small time but the healing itself takes time and not all Cushing’s diseases are same and every dog has different mental and physical health.

What if not treated?

When it comes to the disease itself, then it doesn’t make a very big difference in the life span of your dog. Usually, a dog with Cushing’s disease lives as long as a dog who is treated with the disease.

Even though it doesn’t sound deadly or dangerous, the untreated dogs tend to show more and more symptoms and side-effects. And it only gets worse with time. It doesn’t affect their lifespan, but it certainly affects their physical and mental health.

Also, you should know that it is important to keep your pet disease free as it can have a huge impact on its quality of life.

Is your dog in pain with Cushing’s disease?

Some of the worst side-effects of Cushing’s disease is a pain. The disease can make it painful for your pet to perform daily activities and can make your pet very anxious.

Cushing’s disease can cause the adrenal glands to produce way too much cortisol. This can complicate the diabetes of your pet and lead to low thyroid activity.

When to euthanize a dog with Cushing’s disease?

This is one of the most difficult decisions that a pet owner can make. Even though old age took away my Winnie from me, but I know that I could never have had been able to put her down to get her out of the misery.

how long does a dog live with cushing's disease

Last picture of my Winnie (Dead Body)

I would never recommend this to anyone unless the vet recommends it. If you are having thoughts about euthanizing your dog then I would request you to first look for possible treatments and the right advice from a vet.  I can understand how bad the situation can get but still, you have to see what’s best for your pet.


If you think that your pet is showing symptoms of Cushing’s disease, then as a friend I would say that please take your dog to the vet and get it tested. There can be moments where we neglect some symptoms, but those symptoms can indicate towards a bigger problem.

I did everything I could to make my Winnie happy. She was suffering from Cushing’s disease, but fought it with her strength and braveness. She was my best friend and I did everything in my hands to support her.

I think all animals deserve every bit of love and respect from us. If there’s anything you can do to make one animal happy then please do it.