Termed medically as hypoadrenocorticism, Addison's disease refers to a malfunction within the adrenal glands, most commonly observed in dogs, though cats aren't entirely immune to it. Afflicted animals lack the production of essential hormones necessary for optimal bodily operations, making this condition potentially fatal if overlooked. Dive into our curated articles on Addison's disease to gain a deeper insight.
How Veterinarians Diagnose Addison's Disease in Cats
Addison's disease in cats can be identified using a series of blood examinations and assessing symptom history linked to the condition. The following aspects are typically evaluated through blood tests:
- A low count of red blood cells indicates the presence of anemia.
- Variations in the pattern of white blood cells in the feline.
- A rise in eosinophils, a specific kind of white blood cell.
Furthermore, experts will assess for elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels and phosphorus. Veterinarians also determine the balance of electrolytes, explicitly noting if there's an increase in potassium or a decrease in sodium, as these can influence the heart's rhythmic activity.
ACTH Evaluation for Felines Should a veterinarian have concerns about Addison's disease, an ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) test may be recommended. This test provides insights into the functioning of the adrenal glands by simulating the natural processes expected in the feline body.
The pituitary gland is responsible for the production of the ACTH hormone. This hormone stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol. When conducting the test, a baseline blood sample measures the existing cortisol levels in the cat. After this, artificial ACTH is introduced, and another blood sample is collected after an hour. A minimal or non-existent rise in cortisol levels may indicate the presence of Addison's disease.
Other diagnostic evaluations that can be advised are:
- A urine test to check for potential kidney conditions and to assess urine concentration.
- Monitoring blood pressure to identify low pressure and the efficacy of intravenous fluid treatment.
- Chest radiographs to detect any heart-related complications, such as microcardia.
- An ECG to pinpoint arrhythmias and signs of imbalances in electrolytes.
Treatment of Addison's Disease in Cats
Even though Addison's disease cannot be cured, it's a controllable condition, allowing cats to lead fulfilling, vibrant, and joyful lives.
In cases where the symptoms are acute, the primary treatment aim is to bring stability to the cat's condition. Issues like dehydration, low blood volume (hypovolemia), anemia, vomiting, or imbalances in electrolytes might necessitate intensive fluid treatment and, in some instances, blood transfusions. Based on the cat's needs, specific medications may be prescribed. A few days of hospital care might be essential for recovery.
Given that Addison's disease stems from a steroid deficiency, the preferred treatment involves steroid replacement. Commonly, prednisolone or depo-medrol are used. These treatments can be administered through pills, oral solutions, or periodic injections. The treatment plan may also include a synthetic mineralocorticoid such as desoxycorticosterone pivalate (DOCP), typically injected once a month, or fludrocortisone acetate, a daily oral medication. These are the preferred therapeutic choices.