Canine Cushing’s Disease Recommended Diet

Image of a golden retriever dog getting examined at the vet for canine cushing's disease
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Does your dog have Cushing’s disease? There are many things that you can do at home to help keep your dog healthy while managing this disease.

The food that you feed your dog can make a big impact on the outcome and management of Cushing’s disease. With the proper diet and with the help of certain supplements, your dog can live a long and happy life with Cushing’s disease.

Below you’ll find an ideal canine cushing’s disease recommended diet.

What Is Canine Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s disease happens when your dog’s body produces higher levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone from the adrenal glands. This high level of cortisol is either produced by the adrenal gland overworking due to a mass on the adrenal gland or a mass in the brain telling the adrenal glands to make more steroids. When the adrenal glands do not function properly, it cause issues with metabolism, stress levels, and blood pressure.

Common Signs of Canine Cushing’s Disease

There are many signs that could indicate that your dog may have Cushing’s disease. The common signs that are seen in dogs with Cushing’s disease are:

A Pot Belly Appearance

High levels of cortisol cause your dog to retain water and weight gain. This will be most commonly seen in your dog’s abdomen. Your dog will have a potty belly appearance.

Elevated Liver Enzymes

Cortisol will also affect liver values. If your dog has Cushing’s disease, they will usually have high liver values. Many times, high liver values are the first thing that signals your veterinarian that your dog may have Cushing’s disease.

Increased Thirst

Your dog may be drinking more water due to the increased steroids that are circulating in their body.

Increased Urination

A dog that is drinking more water is also going to need to urinate more.


These signs would all indicate that your dog would need to see a vet and potentially be tested for Cushing’s disease. If you do think that your dog has Cushing’s disease, your vet will want to run tests to see if this is what is causing these signs. A simple blood test can easily diagnose Cushing’s disease.

What to Look for in a Diet

When you are looking for a diet for your dog who has Cushing’s disease, there are many things that you need to consider. These are just a few things that you need to consider when picking a diet that is best for your dog with Cushing’s disease.

Digestible Protein

Your dog will need to be fed a diet that is high in digestible proteins. Dogs with Cushing’s disease usually have issues with muscle loss. By increasing their protein intake, you can help keep your dog from losing muscle mass.

Moderate Fiber

You will want to feed your dog with Cushing’s disease a diet that has a moderate amount of fiber. Fiber helps the GI system function properly. Look for a diet with a fiber amount of 8-17%.

Low in Fat

Dogs with Cushing’s disease commonly have high cholesterol and commonly develop pancreatitis. A diet that is low in fat will help keep these two issues from occurring in your dog with Cushing’s disease. You will want your dog’s diet to contain less than 12% fat.

Low in Sodium

Diets that are low in sodium will help your dog be able to regulate their blood pressure better. It will also help decrease the amount of water retention and your dog’s thirst level.

Low in Calcium

Dogs who have Cushing’s disease also commonly develop bladder stones from the high levels of calcium in their urine. By feeding a diet that is lower in calcium and not giving your dog treats that contain extra calcium will help your dog with Cushing’s disease from developing bladder stones.

Also, making sure that your dog has free access to water will also help with stone formation. You should never withhold water from your dog unless you have been told to by your vet because they are having a surgical procedure the next day.

Recommended Dog food For Cushing’s Disease

When looking for dog food for your dog with Cushing’s disease, these are a few diets that you should consider. While there may be many great diets, these are just a few that we recommend that you consider.

These three dog foods are high in protein and lower in fat, which is what dogs with Cushing’s disease need. Many adult dog food diets will meet your dog’s needs.

When switching diets talk to your vet about the food that you are going to switch to and make sure that it’s appropriate for your dog. Also, make sure that you switch diets slowly so that your dog has a more comfortable adjustment period when switching to the new food.

Supplements for Canine Cushing’s Disease

While many times your dog’s condition can easily be managed with diet and possibly medication, a dog with canine Cushing’s disease can benefit from certain supplements.

Common supplements that you should consider for your dog with Cushing’s disease are:

  • Fish oil supplements: Fish oil is known to help decrease the amount of triglycerides and fats in your dog’s bloodstream. This will also help improve your dog’s coat and skin. Wild salmon oil is one of the best for dogs.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics are very useful in helping your dog maintain a healthy GI system. The medications for Cushing’s that your veterinarian may prescribe for your dog may cause signs of diarrhea or GI upset.
  • Herbs: There are many herbs that may help your dog with Cushing’s disease. Talk with your vet about milk thistle, burdock, Si Miao San, nettle, rosehips, and apple cider vinegar.

Treatment for Canine Cushing’s Disease

If your dog has Cushing’s disease, there are many different ways they can be treated. These are some of the most common drugs used to treat Cushing’s disease in your dog:

  • Vetoryl (trilostane): the most common drug that is used to treat Cushing’s disease. This medication may be expensive but will help decrease the level of cortisol in your dog’s body.
  • Lysodren (Mitotane) is an older drug that not many vets use due to the unwanted side effects. This is a cheaper option but does come with unwanted side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • Nizoral (Ketoconazole) is an antifungal medication that also can help treat Cushing’s disease if it is caused by a pituitary tumor. This is not a commonly prescribed medication by veterinarians since this drug can also cause many liver issues if taken long term.
  • Selegiline is used to treat Cushing’s disease caused by a pituitary tumor and helps with cognitive dysfunction.

In rare incidents, there are tumors that are growing on your dog’s adrenal gland. The tumors may be able to be removed surgically. Your vet will discuss the pros and cons of surgery and medical management of this disease.

Canine Cushing’s Disease Recommended Diet Final Thoughts

If your dog has Cushing’s disease, make sure that it stays on a diet that will help keep them healthy. The food that you feed your dog will affect their overall health. Consider choosing one of these great foods or supplements to feed your dog with Cushing’s disease. By maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, your dog with Cushing’s disease can live a long and happy life.

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