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Canines and Cushings

Cushing’s and dogs


Cushing’s Syndrome is a disorder caused by the body’s high expression or exposure to the hormone cortisol also known as the stress hormone. Causes for triggering Cushing’s are often from a tumor on the pituitary gland or adrenal gland near the kidney’s (known as Hyperadrenocorticism) or over production of cortisol from the Steroid treatment (prednisone and Dexamethasone, known as Iatrogenic Cushing’s).


Some of the signs are:

· Excessive drinking and thirst with frequent urination

· Thinning of skin and hair

· Potbellied / enlarged abdomen

· Lethargy and muscle atrophy and weakness


You must seek veterinary advice if any of these symptoms are seen, not just for this disease but they could signify any number of other issues.


Focusing on the reducing and the stabilization of cortisol production, there are a few natural options then may work simultaneously with your veterinary medications and direction to give relief to your dog.

*This information is NOT designed to replace Veterinary treatment.


Diet - Species specific Diets are going to provide essential nutrients, minerals and vital proteins and fat. Fat is used as energy first and foremost, protein feeds protein (muscle), Carbs feed fat cells, however for dogs with Cushing’s natural carbs such as in vegetable are recommended. Due to the excess of stress hormones dogs will use excessive amounts of protein and lose weight rapidly, it is essential to ensure the dog is provided with the correct protein, fats and carb to continue to stay as healthy and active as possible.

Other reasons to feed a raw and natural diet.

  • Lowers pro-inflammatory markers and inflammation throughout the body.

  • Immune system is based in the gut and Microbiome can benefit greatly.

  • Cancer / tumors are known to attract and feed on sugars created from carbs.

  • 95% of serotonin (Neurotransmitter) is found within the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Assists with natural detoxification, liver kidneys and heart and lymphatic drainage.

  • Inadequate dietary uptake often caused by processed foods cause pressure and stress on the body, raw natural food reduce stress by meeting nutrient and mineral requirements.

  • Certain meats are heavier to digest so for those hungry on meds it can help them to feel fuller and more satisfied. There is also a good amount of fluid they can absorb from meats, which can be absorbed differently and may leave them feeling less dehadrated.



Milk thistle - Liver protection. Silymarin in Milk Thistle helps reduce damaging effects caused by medications, and fights of toxins that attempt to bind to the Liver cells. It is used for Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Syndrome), liver toxicity, Fatty Liver, Detoxification from poisoning and from Medications such as corticosteroids, chemotherapy, pesticides and many more. It can be safely taken long term where necessary but for healthy dogs 2-week detox every 6 months is recommended. This should always be a part of any steroidal treatment.


Lignans – A Polyphenolic compound found in plants offers Antioxidant activity and Neuro protections, enhance cell survival against cytotoxicity. Https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6929673/

Lignans can be found highest in flaxseed and flax hull, blueberries, apples, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts and Kale and green tea. Flaxseed is also a great source of other essential fatty acids Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine and Lysine. Benefits that may be seen are skin and coat normalizing, decrease thirst and drinking, inhibits enzymes (3-beta HSD) that reduces cortisol levels. Recommended at 1-2mg per 1 pound (.5 -1 mg per 1 kg) (www.lignans.net)



Vitamin C – Needed to support the body through cortisol effects, free radical protection and also supports immune function, GI tract support, aids in production of serotonin, and dopamine other neurotransmitters, supports protein metabolism, wound healing and collagen production. The best sources for dogs are Kakadu Plum (Gubinge, this is the highest source of vit C available) and rosehips, broccoli and bell peppers are safe food sources for vitamin C.


Melatonin (pineal gland hormone also found in the gastrointestinal tract and produced in the tryptophan/serotonin pathway)– Due to cortisol production the body is often lacking in natural melatonin as when melatonin is low cortisol is increased. When Melatonin is given to someone with Cushing’s it has a variety of pathologic responses such as immune response depression and hyper catabolism (excessive protein breakdown within the body), adrenal suppression, neuroendocrine regulation and more. This product can assist in balancing the effects and the action of cortisol production. Melatonin also shows properties of a powerful anti-oxidant and direct free radical scavenger, stabilizes the central nervous system and modulation of glutamate receptors. Dosage 3mg every 12 hrs. per 15kg (www.lignans.net)

Further reading on melatonin Https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354573/


L-Tryptophan – 1 of 20 essential amino acid makes serotonin (a neurotransmitter) which melatonin is produce from. Tryptophan serves as a precursor to vit B6, Kynurenine (Immune modulation, and blood vessel dilation, Liver function) and numerous other compounds. Tryptophan is used in protein synthesis, used by the liver to produce Vitamin B3 (niacin) the vitamin required for energy metabolism and DNA production. High protein food contain Tryptophan, red meat, Raw milk, eggs, fish and turkey are good sources, you can also get this in powdered form. It has immunomodulatory functions through the kynurenine pathway and may serve as a supportive measure.

Further reading about L-Tryptophan http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6158605/


MSM – cortisol decreases glucose uptake in muscle cells, has observed to inhibit or reverse cortisol induced stress on the body, and assist in regulation on cortisol. It has also shown to be proactive against tumors so may reduce or slow growth. However please keep in mind MSM may also increase the cortisol activity, it will also increase the absorption of any medications, and is not to be used at within 2 hours of veterinary prescribed drugs without veterinary supervision.


Fatty Acids – Omega 3 anti- inflammatory properties can play a large part in balancing cortisol and reducing the effects it has within the body. But keep in mind, more is not necessarily better, all bodies need a healthy balanced diet. If your pet is already on raw or even 50/50 diet, they will not require the same amount.


Massage/ Myo-manipulative functional therapy

Your dog may also find relief through massage / Myo-Manipulative Functional Therapy!

Yes, you have read correctly!

The simple task specific patting!

You can either book a consult with an Insured and Certified Professional, which then all areas of your dog will be targeted with specific techniques to promote positive physiological responses and changes. They will also keep records, do basic Health, Gait and Range of Movement checks and advise if there are other issues that need tending to by alternative professional.

If a professional is not in reach, there is also a plethora of Youtube Videos and courses online available to learn from. Most techniques needed for detox and promotion of feel-good chemicals will be Swedish massage strokes, which is best described as; long steady medium pressured strokes with a flat hand/Fingers, following along each muscle and or muscle group.

Massage can promote healthy circulation, hair follicle growth, promote faster stronger detox response of toxins throughout the entire body, ensure oxygen and vitamins and minerals reach and replenish depleted regions and Importantly increase Endorphins, Oxytocin, Dopamine and Serotonin which can all help to minimize the release and effects of Cortisol on a biochemical level. Just keep in mind that if your pet has reduced hair use a soft, thin fleece blanket to cover their skin to keep it protected.



Chevelle Williams, CMFT, HCN, DipCanCom, DipAniRei, DipMBSR.


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