Skip to main content
Poodle laying in a bed

Consider medication benefits and risks

Q: Noodle, my 8-year-old miniature poodle, was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. He has a big belly, sparse fur and mild arthritis, but otherwise, he is happy and healthy.

His veterinarian prescribed medication, but when I looked it up online, I became concerned about the drug’s side effects. How important is it that Noodle take this medication?

A: Cushing’s disease, also called hyperadrenocorticism, results from increased secretion (hyper-) of cortisol hormone (-corticism) by the adrenal glands (-adreno-).

The typical clinical signs include:

  • increased drinking and urination
  • increased appetite (often accompanied by a potbellied abdomen)
  • thin skin
  • hair loss
  • panting

Before you decide on giving Noodle the prescribed medication, consider its benefits and risks. If the benefits are mostly cosmetic, it may not be worth exposing him to the potential side effects.

An additional risk to treating Noodle with a drug that decreases his elevated cortisol levels is that his osteoarthritis may worsen. This occurs because cortisol is a steroid that eases the inflammation and discomfort associated with arthritis.

Most veterinary endocrinologists recommend against medicating cushingoid dogs with mild clinical signs that don’t bother them or their families. If you’re uncertain, ask your vet to refer you to a veterinary endocrinologist for a consultation.

Cushing’s disease progresses slowly. Over time, if Noodle develops any of the disease’s more troublesome effects, such as having accidents in the house because he’s drinking excessively, you can start treatment then.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by Reviews.com since 2017.

samoyed dog standing in the snow

Do you live in an area where you're...

Child and dog sitting on stairs dressed in costumes

Halloween is a time for ghoulish family...

depressed pug with head on pillow

Can dogs suffer from depression? Could...

Small dog chewing on a red toy bone in front of Christmas tree

Recreating the perfect Christmas scene...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Dog and child dressed for Halloween up on bed

Halloween brings cooler weather, carved...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Woman with dog looking at tablet

Since 2017 Americans have spent between $17...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...