Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease, Cushing’s Syndrome) is a condition resulting in excess production of adrenal gland hormones, usually glucocorticoids. It can cause a wide array of symptoms and secondary conditions.

Cushing’s Disease is most common in dogs and horses. Some dog breeds may be predisposed to Cushing’s Disease, including Terriers, Boxers, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Maltese, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, American Eskimos, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Australian Shepherds. While there is no cure, it can be managed under the diligent guidance of your Veterinarian.

“Treating Cushing’s is a balancing act,” says Ann Stohlman, V.M.D., a veterinarian in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “But dogs with the disease can live a good life if they are monitored closely by a veterinarian and the owner is diligent about bringing the dog in for blood work and giving the medication as directed.”

Natural support for a body suffering from the effects of Hyperadrenocorticism can be provided with herbs and special dietary considerations. Each condition and symptom resulting from Cushing’s Disease can be treated individually, and the condition itself can be supported therapeutically. For example, pets suffering from Hyperadrenocorticism may have a compromised immune system, diabetes, and excessive thirst, all of which can be addressed naturally using specific supplements.

Dietary Recommendations for Dogs & Horses with Cushing’s Disease

  • Feed small amounts, more often
  • Low carbohydrate
  • Low fat
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Rich in Antioxidants
  • Rich in Folic Acid
  • Rich in Vitamin C
  • Rich in minerals and trace elements
Natural Treatment of Canine & Equine Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's Disease)
Addominal distension and muscle atrophy in a dachshund with endogenous Cushing’s Syndrome (Hyperadrenocorticism).
Photo: Caroldermoid

Natural Supplements for Dogs & Horses with Cushing’s Disease

Seaweed – Provides iodine, selenium and minerals that support adrenal function, plus antioxidants and Vitamin C. Supports the immune and digestive system. Lowers blood glucose levels. Balances hormones, metabolism and electrolytes. Reduces the effect of stress. May decrease tumor size and prevent cancer. Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-parasite.

Krill – Omega 3 and antioxidants. Supports the canine immune and digestive system.

Nettle Leaf – Liver & digestive system support. Replenishes potassium that may be lost with frequent urination, a typical symptom of Cushing’s Syndrome.

Dandelion – Supports the liver, digestive system and adrenal glands. Replenishes potassium. Stabilizes blood sugar. Reduces inflammation. Contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for dietary support of dogs or horses with Hyperadrenocorticism.

Burdock – Liver & digestive system support. Replenishes potassium. Maintains blood sugar levels.

Astragalus membranaceous – One of the most commonly recommended herbs for the natural treatment of Hyperadrenocorticism. It is an adaptogenic herb that buffers the adrenal response to stress. Balances the adrenal glands. Stabilizes blood sugar and blood pressure. Supports the immune system.

Siberian Ginseng – Adaptogenic herb that buffers the adrenal response to stress.

Rosehips – Supports the immune system & overall health. Contains Vitamin C.

Milk Thistle – Supports the liver and pancreas. Stabilizes red blood cells.

Psyllium seed – Supports healthy digestion and adds fiber.

Apple cider vinegar – Supports the immune system and hoof health.

Vitex agnus castus (Chaste Berry) – Dopamine stimulation. Balances hormones. Reduces irritability.

Sulphur – Regulates thirst. Conditions skin. Supports the digestive system.

Arsenicum album (homeopathic Hyperadrenocorticism remedy) – Supports the digestive system, urinary tract, and balances body fluids. Regulates hunger and thirst level.

Mercurius solubilis (homeopathic Hyperadrenocorticism remedy) – Reduces nervous tension. Regulates hunger, thirst and urination.

Probiotics – Support the digestive system in dogs or horses with Cushing’s Disease.

Colostrum Extracts – Extracts from colostrum have a balancing effect on the immune system in pets and humans suffering from a wide range of diseases, including Cushing’s Disease.  The extracts are commonly referred to as “Transfer Factors”.

If you prefer prepared supplements, following are two of the most frequently recommended supplements for dogs and horses with Cushing’s Disease:

Adrenal Harmony Gold for Dog Cushing’s
Transfer Factor Plus Tri-Factor Formula

Other Natural Treatments for Canine & Equine Hyperadrenocorticism

  • Keep stress at a minimum
  • Regular exercise
  • Limit vaccinations
  • Avoid extreme weather conditions
  • Keep horse hooves trimmed

Notes of Caution:

  1. Avoid herbs that stimulate adrenal activity, such as Borage Leaf, Goat’s Rue and Licorice.
  2. Cushing’s Disease should not be treated without veterinary supervision.

??? Have you used natural remedies to treat Hyperadrenocorticism in your dog or horse? Please share your tips in the comments below.

Sources:
FDA Accessed June, 2013.
Hu, C. Kitts, D. Antioxidant, prooxidant, and cytotoxic activities of solvent-fractionated dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower extracts in vitro. 2003.
Shimizu, J., et al. Effects of different types of dietary fiber preparations isolated from bamboo shoots, edible burdock, apple and corn on fecal steroid profiles of rats. 1996.
Huseini HF et al. The efficacy of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. (silymarin) in the treatment of type II diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. 2006.
Cooksley, Valerie Gennari, RN. Seaweed: Nature’s Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease, and Revitalizing Body and Soul. 2007.
Tilford, Gregory. Wulff, Mary. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s LifeHerbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet's Life. 2009.
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and SupplementsNatural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats. 2001.
Kellon, Eleanor M. VMD. Horse Journal Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals

✔  You may also be interested in reading:
Natural Treatment of Addison’s Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism) in Pets
Foods in Homemade Pet Diets That Cause Inflammation

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11 thoughts on “Natural Care of Canine & Equine Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease)

  1. Cool! I’m going to put this post on our bulletin board where I keep my horse. It’s a big stable and we share lots of information about natural horse remedies & such. I don’t see much about horses here so get to work Melody. 😉

    • Yes sir! LOL I’m still working on my equine expertise and I would rather share nothing than share information that I haven’t thoroughly researched. A few more consultations and I’ll be comfortable posting about horses more often.

  2. Unfortunately, I’ve had 2 dogs with Cushing’s syndrome and I thought it might be something in the environment around here. I even had my water tested because it scared me because of my kids too. I’m slowly switching to a raw diet and I’ll get back to you if it helps.

  3. I’m still a little uncomfortable with natural remedies so I’ll check with my vet but I’ve been coming around…at lest with Chinese medicine. Our dog has CD.

  4. Cushing’s disease makes life difficult but animals don’t suffer much if the condition is taken care of. It’s the pets with neglectful owners that suffer and die from it. I wish I could save them all!

  5. Maybe it’s vaccinations that causes it in the first place, they cause a lot of other problems in pets and even children.

  6. It took forever for my first vet to diagnose my senior dog with Cushing’s syndrome. He charged us hundreds of dollars for tests and then kept trying to sell us special food. We changed vets and what a difference! She’s open to natural methods even though she’s a regular vet so I’ll take this post to her. Thanks!

  7. Well done, Ms. McKinnon. I’ve found much useful information on this website.
    Can you give me a reference for the info about vaccinations and Cushing’s Disease?

    • Thank you, Geraldine! The vaccination warning was mentioned in The Horse Journal Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals by Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD. It states that only the most necessary vaccinations should be done.

  8. Wow! You’ve given me so many ideas and so much hope. We have a dear old horse suffering from cushing’s syndrome and we want to make him as comfortable as possible. Thank you so much.

  9. Fantastic summary of natural options for cushings. It’s a disease that needs a vet involved but that doesn’t mean we can’t choose one who is willing to work in natural remedies.

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