As Suka became an elder Siberian (she died at 14.5), she developed Cushing’s Disease. It took me a while to finally get her to the vets because many of its signs /symptoms mimic aging. I found her less willing to jump up on the picnic table and in/out of the car. Her coat became more brittle. Her tail became thinner. She developed a pot belly (in fact, I had her liver enzymes checked as I thought she had a liver tumor). Her appetite increased, as did her drinking. But, nothing was so severe that I felt I needed to run her off to the vets for the entire scope of the signs I was seeing. She just looked SO old.
So, I did all the usual; a few supplements, coat conditioners, physically limiting the amt. of food and water she was allowed, helping her in and out of the car. I took her into the vet for the above named blood work, incl. thyroid-which came back AOK). I was doing all the things I thought were right. But, nothing really changed. And I was not very happy with the way my CH Suka was ‘aging’, that is for sure.
Finally, what pushed me over the edge with Suka was her coat. I noticed that the hair in the area up by her neck…right below where her shoulder meets her back became curled; kind of flipped up toward her head. Now, this was unusual. It brought me back to my Morgan stallion, ‘Columbus’, who developed Cushing’s at 23 years of age. I sold him when he was 15. Then I made a trip to see him when he was around that age and he had developed a curly coat from the Cushing’s. Somehow, and for some reason…I was sitting at the computer one night, meandering around the internet and pondering (I do that alot) and this fact just popped into my head about the curly coat. I Googled “Cushing’s signs and symptoms in dogs” and I found a great website with a list of signs and symptoms (s/s). This list had 20 s/s on it (incl. curled hair/fur). Suka had 13 out of the 20 s/s. Here is that website which I found so invaluable: http://www.kateconnick.com/library/cushingsdisease.html
There is another great site out there for Cushing’s. It’s a forum where you can chat with others who are traveling along this same journey as you are and who can give you information, insight and / or just an ear for listening. Here it is: http://www.k9cushings.com/forum/index.php
Now, as we ALL know, hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back she was a classic case and I should have taken her sooner. But, we all live and learn and we must be gentle with ourselves. Especially if our mistakes are innocent ones and we learn from them. So, off to the vets we went the next day with the list in hand. Specific bloodwork~done, and it came back positive for Cushing’s. The next step was finding out if it was a tumor on the kidneys or in the brain. So, even more specific bloodwork was done and more results for my Suka.
Good news is that it was in her brain (pituitary gland), as that is generally the non-malignant one and generally slow(er) growing than the one on the kidneys (adrenal gland).
It took quite a while getting her meds regulated. Now this is a MUST because if the meds are not regulated properly, dogs can go into Addison’s disease. And, that is truly worse than Cushing’s, although Cushing’s is bad enough. IMHO, it’s kind of like going from the frying pan into the fire if your dog has Cushing’s and the meds are not regulated properly. Then the Cushing’s can flip and go into Addison’s disease. Addison’s will kill your Siberian much quicker than Cushing’s will. Anyway, during this process of regulating her meds, Suka went down from 60 MG. Vetoryl (Trilostane) to 10 MG. a day and did super! But, to get to this point and from now on, regular vet visits were part of her life, as were blood draws.
But, Suka was a trooper getting her blood drawn and didn’t seem to mind the 1/2 day visits to the vets anymore. She learned it wasn’t an overnight stay and she accepted that. Everything in life with people and dogs is a trade off, I’ve learned.
The best news is that her rat tail is GONE! The curled hair is GONE! The brittle coat is GONE! She didn’t look or act OLD and decrepit anymore! The picnic table became one of her favorite resting places (just like in the good old days!), instead of an insurmountable obstacle! She jumped right in and out of the back of the Trailblazer again just like she did a year or so ago. Her pot belly pooch has been tucked up back to her normal girlish elder figure. She quit sucking down every water dish in the house. I felt like I have my good old Suka Booka back for however much time God decided to leave her with me and the Amarok pack, which was for about 3 years and those were 3 healthy and happy years for her. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Here are her before and after photos:
So, this brought her back to her normal chronological age, and for that I am thankful (+ she became much healthier and her rat tail was gone!)