Cushings in Dogs: Treatment Options Overview

Cushings in Dogs: Treatment Options Overview

There are numerous treatment options to consider for dogs that have been diagnosed with Cushings disease, also known as canine cushings disease and hyperadrenocorticism. These options are conventional medicinal treatments, natural and herbal treatments, and/or surgery (but only in extremely rare cases). Due to the fact that Cushings in dogs can be difficult to diagnose, oftentimes a natural treatment is recommended by veterinarians. Natural, holistic treatment options for Cushings in dogs are gentle on aging dogs and can be used if Cushing’s is only suspected. Natural treatment options are also less expensive and they have a high success rate. Exploring homeopathic options for Cushing’s in dogs is usually the first route as these options possess the added benefit of little to no side effects.


Natural treatments: Natural remedies for Cushings in dogs/natural treatment options include melatonin, lignans, milk thistle, and SAMe. These dietary supplements have little to no side effects and are often used as a first treatment option for Cushing’s disease. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is produced in excess in Cushingoid dogs, which is the cause of most of the symptoms. Controlling the amount of cortisol means controlling the symptoms. Flaxseed lignans and melatonin both inhibit different enzymes needed in the production of cortisol. In restoring hormone levels back to normal, flaxseed lignans and melatonin can help manage the symptoms. Studies have found that the combination of lignans and melatonin not only reduce cortisol, but act directly upon adrenal tumor cells, effectively treating both typical and atypical cushings disease. Milk thistle and SAMe are dietary supplements that help support the liver. Liver support is beneficial for dogs with Cushing’s because the disease puts a great deal of stress on the liver, causing it to become overworked.

Click here to read testimonials on natural Cushing’s treatment options. You can read about real life experiences treating Canine Cushings Disease with lignans, melatonin, and more.

Conventional treatments: These include Lysodren, Ketoconozole, and Trilostane. Although they can be effective, it is important to remember that they are chemotherapy drugs. They can be expensive and much care is needed in monitoring the results. These drugs are used to deliberately damage the outer adrenal cortex to reduce cortisol production. If the dosage is too high or if the medication is administered for an extended period of time, the adrenal gland can be damaged to the point where it stops producing cortisol all together. This causes Addison’s disease, the opposite of Cushing’s disease, and monthly monitoring and steroid injections would be needed to make up for the cortisol deficit if this occurs. To ensure these chemotherapy drugs only reduce cortisol rather than eliminating it, and to confirm that they do not cause excessive damage to the adrenal gland, frequent monitoring and testing is required.
Surgery: Cushings in dogs is caused by either a tumor in the adrenal gland or a tumor in the pituitary gland. Because of the pituitary gland’s location, the removal of the tumor would require brain surgery, which is not performed on dogs. This procedure would be extremely risky and the cost would be astronomical. While surgery on the pituitary gland is not done, adrenal gland tumor surgery can be performed; however, it is rare because of the aforementioned risk and cost.

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Comments (97)

  • christina owens Reply

    I’m using Trilostane for 2 mo. for my Yorkie. She’s already lost 2 #. One more month of this and then switching to natural supplements recommended here. Do you need to give this trmt. for the life of the dog? Where’s the place to get these supplements?
    Thankyou for your help!

    November 24, 2016 at 4:24 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      When a dog has Cushing’s, treatment is recommended for the rest of the dog’s life in order to manage the symptoms. Unfortunately there is no cure for the disease – aside from extremely expensive and risky surgeries, which are very rarely suggested. This is another reason natural treatment options are often considered: they are inexpensive and more gentle than conventional medications, therefore using them for an extended period is more manageable. We highly encourage you to consult your vet about switching (if you haven’t already) as they are more familiar with your dog’s particular case since each one is different. As far as a good source for lignans and melatonin, we recommend They provide quality products and valuable information.

      April 27, 2017 at 8:37 pm
      • Ann London Reply

        My doxie is 12 and she’s doing ok on Vetoryl. She can’t seem to settle down into a comfy position for a nap or just to sit, day or night. Is this a Cushings symptom? Any suggestions?

        October 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          Restlessness and pacing can be a Cushing’s symptom due to the excess Cortisol (the stress hormone). Supplements like melatonin can help; however, we recommend discussing this with your veterinarian if the Vetoryl hasn’t been able to address this symptom.

          November 10, 2017 at 5:21 pm
    • Molly Reply

      On Amazon is where I get them. All delivered to you without you having to go find them. Lignans for life, petalive Cushex drops. Youcan also get sam-e there as well as melatonin

      June 27, 2017 at 8:40 am
    • Mary Hodges Reply

      Amazon sells flax hull with lignans. That is what my vet recommended to give my dog. Right now she’s just on melatonin but I’m going to get some flax hull with lignans.

      March 11, 2019 at 5:15 pm
    • Diane Reply

      My yorkie is so sick from her meds now barely eats I stopped it she’s so skinny Down to 9 pounds. I called hospice. How would you know if these supplementas would be the right treatment

      July 2, 2021 at 11:01 pm
      • Cushings in Dogs Reply

        We’re sorry to hear this. What is your dog suffering from? The treatment in the post mainly pertains to Cushing’s disease however, there are other health benefits to the lignans and melatonin.

        July 27, 2021 at 10:03 pm
  • Eva Reply

    How much melotin or milk thistle do you give a 100 lbs dog

    December 5, 2016 at 4:58 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      As per the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee, who developed the protocol for treating Cushings with lignans and melatonin, recommended dosage for melatonin is 3 mg every 12 hours for dogs under 30 lbs and 6 mg every 12 hours for dogs over 30 lbs. Based on this suggestion, your dog would take 6 mg every 12 hours to keep the melatonin at a constant level in the body. We suggest consulting your vet to make sure this falls in line with their recommended treatment practice.
      Recommended dosage for Milk Thistle is approximately 2 mg per pound of body weight, so your dog could potentially have up to 200 mg of milk thistle; however, as stated above, we always encourage readers to consult their veterinarian when introducing any new supplement to their dog’s diet.

      April 27, 2017 at 8:26 pm
      • EILEEN M HISS Reply

        Is there a type of tincture or preparation that is recommended to use for the Milk Thistle and Melatonin?

        January 23, 2019 at 6:35 am
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          Hi Eileen, many people open the milk thistle or melatonin capsules and sprinkle the contents over their dog’s food, or they mix the contents with peanut butter or yogurt. Some choose to hide the capsules or tablets in pill pockets, peanut butter, meat, eggs, cheese, etc. There are also flavored options of the milk thistle and melatonin that are in the form of chewable tablets. Some choose liquid forms as well.

          February 15, 2019 at 10:41 pm
      • Bunny turner Reply

        Can you give your dog melatonin, lignans and adrenal support drops all at the same time?

        March 27, 2020 at 11:18 pm
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          We always recommend consulting your vet regarding mixing supplements however, we have had many people have success with giving all 3 supplements.

          March 29, 2020 at 11:11 pm
  • Jacqueline Ginetz Reply

    Can you apply the same holistic treatments to either adrenal or pituitary cushings disease?

    December 14, 2016 at 1:14 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Holistic treatments can be used for either; however, every Cushings case is different. We always recommend consulting your vet as they are most familiar with the severity of your dog’s particular case.

      April 27, 2017 at 8:22 pm
  • Larry Reply

    I just lost my Border Terrier to Cushings. We tried traditional as well as Holistic Medicine, but in the end I couldn’t help her.
    I wish I had found this website sooner.

    January 16, 2017 at 2:54 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We are sorry to hear about your dog. There are far too many Cushings cases each year and we hope to continue raising awareness of the disease.

      April 27, 2017 at 8:18 pm
      • Cary Reply

        Why is that? why so many Cushing cases each year? The food maybe?

        October 19, 2021 at 5:49 pm
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          It’s very difficult to know, to be honest. It could potentially be more veterinarians are becoming more knowledgable on the topic/disease which results in more confirmed cases rather than misdiagnosed. We’re hopeful with more confirmed cases that there will be more and more preventative treatment options available though.

          December 1, 2021 at 6:19 pm
    • Mary Hodges Reply

      I’m so sorry for your loss. My vet told me that Cushing’s disease usually means your dog has a tumor either in the pituitary or the adrenal. If it’s in the pituitary I think that is more serious than if it is in the adrenal. My dog has a tumor in her adrenal. Right now all I have her own is melatonin but I’m going to get some flax hull with lignans to give her to see if that helps.

      March 11, 2019 at 5:18 pm
    • Tedda Duhey Reply

      I wish I found it earlier as well! Our 11-year-old Shepherd Lab has been treated by two different vets, every month since November, for liver inflammatory disease. She is on prednisone, ursidol, and Denamarin and has gained 20 lbs. since then. However, the owner of her brother said he has just been diagnosed with Cushings. All the symptoms are the same. Is there a simple test to determine for sure? And can her treatment be easily switched?

      May 29, 2020 at 2:24 pm
      • Tedda Duhey Reply

        BTW, I’m am so so sorry for your loss as well! We’ve been wondering if it’s near the time for us 🙁

        May 29, 2020 at 2:27 pm
  • Norma Reply

    My dog is on medication for Cushings. He still does a lot heavy panting. Will that ever subside?

    May 18, 2017 at 11:11 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      When a dog has Cushing’s, they will have it for life. Even if they are on medication, the tumor will still remain, therefore the symptoms can linger. It is tough to say if the panting will subside since we are not familiar with your dog’s particular case and every dog is different, so you’ll have to consult your vet. But we can tell you that regardless of whether you are using conventional or holistic treatments, the goal remains the same: to reduce excess Cortisol, thus managing the symptoms. If you are using conventional medicine, oftentimes people will use holistic treatments at the same time to help manage the symptoms. If you do not feel that your current medication is helping enough, it might be time to talk to your vet about trying something different or introducing some natural supplements to see if they can help manage some or all of the symptoms. Best of luck!

      May 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm
      • janet Reply

        My dog was just diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. He is a 14 year old Maltese and weighs 12 lbs.
        After much soul searching I decided to go the holistic path.
        I found a website selling Adrenal Harmony Gold. They are drops you put on food.
        Pepsi was diagnosed when going through a routine physical so his symptoms were not apparent or severe. He does have panting episodes but I have found that if I wet his head and ears, and sometimes feed him, they completely stop.
        The website I bought the meds from is
        I was impressed with all the excellent reviews this product had, over a thousand!
        Best of luck to all our little friends!

        April 23, 2019 at 12:52 am
  • Carol Reply

    My dog uses Vetryol from vet. 1 and half years ago i found a chriopractor that does frequency specific microcurrent(fsm) . He has shown great improvement and vet says he is symptom free. He gets raw diet and some nutrional supplements

    June 13, 2017 at 1:32 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Carol! What supplements do you give your dog?

      June 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm
    • Brenda Jarvis Reply

      Hi Carol….what breed is your dog…wondering if small breed? Our yorkie is in need of help asap….vet suggesting Vetryol. Trying to decide whether to use this or homeopathic remedies. How long as your dog been on Vetryol?

      August 1, 2017 at 11:19 pm
    • Lisa Shubert Reply

      Hi Carol, my 14 year old cattle dog is diagnosed with cushings and has not started meds yet. I am interested in starting her on meds as well as other suggestions you have mentioned. Could you share with me your opinion? my girl is 65 lbs.

      June 21, 2018 at 11:02 pm
    • Kelly Reply

      Is your dog off veteroyl after chiro treatment?

      February 24, 2020 at 1:48 am
    • Felicia williams Reply

      My dog is on vetryol but has no more symptoms anymore yet starting to get that bubble stomach can I use Melatonin and little lignuns
      At the same time do you think it will help

      August 3, 2021 at 1:21 am
      • Cushings in Dogs Reply

        As always, we recommend consulting your vet before changing any regimen. However, lignans/melatonin should be safe to give at the same time as vetryol. Many people end up doing 1 or the other (traditional medicine or holistic) since they work a bit differently than the other. Lignans and melatonin work to balance out hormone levels to ensure proper production. We have had some followers/customers go with both routes though with positive results.

        August 18, 2021 at 7:30 pm
  • Web Hosting Reply

    Surgical techniques to remove pituitary tumors in dogs are being studied, but surgery is not a widely available option.

    June 18, 2017 at 7:39 pm
  • Jan Reply

    I currently have my Shih-Tzu on K9 Choice Melatonin 3mg 2x daily and HMR Lignans 20mg 1x daily. If I added Milk Thistle and SAMe, what would the dosage be for a dog that weighs 14 lbs.? While I’ve seen quite a positive change in my 8 year old, such as energy, alertness, no excessive panting or snoring and weight loss, he still acts famished and downs his food in a matter of seconds. His water consumption is still somewhat more than pre-Cushings but less than it has been post-Cushings. I had started him out on Vetoryl but after just 6 months there wasn’t any notable difference had he started having negative effects so I switched him to the Melatonin and Lignans about 3 months ago. He goes in to see the vet in a week to have his Cortisol levels checked. It will be interesting to see how improved they may be. I also stopped grains and dry kibble and plan on putting him on a raw diet once we have cortisol levels checked.

    August 4, 2017 at 9:25 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Jan, we are glad the lignans and melatonin have been able to help manage some of the symptoms. Recommended dosage for SAMe would be about 100 mg for a dog that size, but every case is different, so we recommend checking with your vet to see if they have any specific instructions regarding liver support. Milk thistle is usually about 2 mg per lb of body weight, but again, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian to see what they think for your dog’s particular case. Good luck!

      August 8, 2017 at 5:44 pm
      • Michelle Silverman Reply

        Hi There,
        We have a 60 lb 14 year old Shepherd who is on Vetoryl, melatonin, Adrenal Support Supplement and milk thistle. When you talk about milk thistle dosage, you are using mg, but we use the liquid form, so I am converting mg to ml and I am confused by the outcome. We recently switched vets because we were extremely unhappy with them and we are continually learning that they gave us misinformation about everything! (They did NOT diagnose Cushings; that didn’t happen until we switched vets.) In describing his symptoms to our new vet, she immediately thought Cushings, so we began testing and sure enough! It’s all about a vet who cares! Anyhow, can you please tell me how many ml I should be giving my 60 lb baby? I’m thinking they told us the wrong dose.

        Thank you SO MUCH!

        March 30, 2020 at 9:12 pm
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          It’s difficult to help with the dosage since we don’t know how concentrated the milk thistle is. You should be able to contact the company you purchased from for help with the dosage instructions.

          April 7, 2020 at 1:45 am
  • Sean F Foley Reply

    Is there a cause for Cushine’s and how long can a dog live with it? My dog is a 70 lb, 11 year old male lab mix.

    September 16, 2017 at 1:38 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Cushings is usually caused by an adrenal or pituitary gland tumor. This results in an excess production of Cortisol, the stress hormone. The heightened Cortisol levels cause dogs to experience common Cushings symptoms like hair loss, panting, excess hunger and thirst, etc. Fortunately, oftentimes Cushings symptoms can be managed. Every dog is different, as is each Cushings case. Some people are able to find a treatment regimen to help extend their dog’s life by years, others are not as fortunate. We recommend getting multiple opinions from veterinarians to find the best recourse. In the meantime, check out our Holistic Treatment Options Page, our Medical Treatment Options Page, and our Vet Recommended Treatment Options Page. All of these links can be found at the top of this page. Good luck!

      September 20, 2017 at 5:07 pm
    • Jay Curtis Reply

      my toy poodle had symptoms of cushngs, i planned on how to send him over the rainbow bridge with as little pain as possible, he was in bad shape distended abdomen panting hair loss ect, i started him on melatonin and flax seed , within a week his symptoms were under control, and after a month he is bright eyed and bushy tailed

      February 28, 2019 at 6:03 am
      • Bunny Reply

        Regular flax seed or lignans?

        March 27, 2020 at 11:15 pm
  • Mila Reply

    My dog just got diagnosed with Cushing’s a month ago. He is on milk thistle, lignans and melatonin with other herbal supplements. However, I got really worried with his liver enzymes, They’re so high. And the pot belly seems disturbing too. Please help recommend other ways to protect the liver. He’s also on a grain-free diet already.

    September 30, 2017 at 11:30 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We’re sorry to hear about your dog. Since you are going the natural route, another supplement that’s worth looking into and worth discussing with your vet is SAMe. This, in conjunction with milk thistle, can help support the liver and may be able to help lower those enzymes. Also keep in mind that it can take up to a few months to see results with some medications and supplements. If you don’t see improvements after a few months, it may be time to switch up the regimen, but we always recommend discussing all options with your vet as they are most familiar with your dog and each Cushings case is different. Good luck!

      October 3, 2017 at 5:02 pm
  • Dianne Reply

    I have a 10 1/2 year old black lab that may or may not have Cushings disease. Her most recent blood panels showed signs of elevated liver enzymes among other things. She had an abdominal ultrasound last week that showed nodules on her adrenal glands as well as a mass on her spleen. I am considering testing her for Cushings, but would not want to subject her to the more harsh conventional medicines. I would definitely try the natural holistic route. My concern is that her spleen and or liver could be compromised by cancer. They want to remove the spleen if they can control the Cushings but I won’t put her through a harsh surgery.
    She really hasn’t presented any major symptoms at this point. She has always gobbled down her food and drinks a good amount of water. Her urination habits do not seem out of the ordinary. Does it make sense to pass on the expensive testing and try and talk to the vet about holistic methods instead. I just lost our other dog last week from other issues so dealing with that grief and this now is overwhelming…

    October 26, 2017 at 8:35 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We’re sorry to hear about your dog. We always recommend discussing all of your options with your veterinarian as it may be worth it to explore alternative treatment regimens, as opposed to trying anything too extreme. It may also be beneficial to talk to your vet about getting your dog on some liver supplements (i.e. SAMe and/or Milk Thistle). The natural supplements for Cushings (i.e. lignans and melatonin) can be given to your dog even if Cushing’s is only suspected because they are natural products that are gentle on aging dogs. We suggest getting your vet’s input on whether to move forward or not since they are most familiar with your dog.

      November 10, 2017 at 5:17 pm
  • Jill Reply

    Louie our 15 year old Staffiie has been diagnosed with Cushing’s. An ultrasound showed a large mass around the adrenal glands. We’ve started him on 60mg Vetoryl today, but I’m interested in the effects of milk thistle on tumours, especially as vet suspects there might be a pituitary tumour too. He’s 18.5 kg what sort of dosage would we be looking at and would it even be suitable/advisable to add the supplement. We’re monitoring and taking him back in 2 weeks. He’s on Royal Canin GI low fat wet and dry food and has been for the past 12 months since he was diagnosed with Pancreatitis. He takes Yumove and Yucalm, but may not need the latter if the Vetoryl treatment helps calm him. Grateful for any advice.

    November 22, 2017 at 12:29 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Milk Thistle can be recommended for liver support and the usual recommendation is 1-2 mg per pound of body weight; however, your veterinarian may have different dosage recommendations since each Cushing’s case is different. Research has indicated lignans can act against tumors as well, but again, it is important to consult a holistic veterinarian with knowledge of alternative options since you are wanting to introduce natural supplements to your dog’s regimen. Here are a few links you might find helpful: Holistic Options; Vet Recommended Treatments

      November 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm
  • Cindy Reply

    my dog Rocky is our 13 year old Jack Russell/Chiwaha has been diagnosed with Cushing’s. An ultrasound showed a large mass around the pituitary glands releases ACTH hormone from the brain as the vet explained me. I am waiting for the 2nd blood test. what is the natural way to cure this disease I heard it can be very expensive plus side effects.
    Please advise me where I can get these natural remedy.

    November 26, 2017 at 11:13 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      While there isn’t a cure, there are ways to manage the symptoms by reducing the excess cortisol in the body. You can read about natural, alternative treatment methods on this page: Holistic Options Always consult your veterinarian before introducing a new regimen; we wish you luck in your research.

      November 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm
  • Cushing's Chihuahua owner Reply

    I wanted to leave a personal testimonial to my experience with a natural approach to Cushing’s. We adopted an extremely neglected dog that we suspect was used as a breeder in a puppy mill. She was in very poor health overall with multiple conditions, with a primary issue being Cushing’s that she probably had for some time and was not treated for (which I believe was also contributing to/exasperating her other issues). It was touch and go as to her prognosis. An ultrasound revealed she has a growth on her adrenal gland, and liver and pancreas issues (high lab values, “sludge” in the pancreas, etc.). She’s been on melatonin, lignans (both HMR and flaxseed) as well as a Chinese medicine supplement Ophiopogon from our holistic vet. She also receives SAM-E and milk thistle, along with other supplements such as enzymes to help her absorb the nutrients from her food, probiotics, fish oil, mushrooms for immunity, etc. It’s been a year and she has responded wonderfully. Her pot belly (which was very prominent) is gone, her drinking/urinating has greatly reduced, and her coat is starting to finally show signs of improvement though she still has skin issues, including warts from her impaired immune system. She is also on raw organic freeze dried food, which provides the important nutritional support. I’m a big believer in natural medicine and just so happy to see her thriving using these treatments and knowing we didn’t have to resort to the “conventional” approach which is extremely had on dogs. Thankful for holistic vets and resources like this site that allowed us to give her a good quality of life.

    December 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience; we will add this to our testimonials page for our readers. We are so glad you found a successful regimen and that your dog is doing well!

      December 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm
  • Marie Reply

    I have a 5.5 lbs Maltese who is 16 yrs old. Been on Vetoryl for 3 mos. Has had 2 ACTH tests and gotten very good results. Her drinking and excess peeing has stopped. Her hair seems to be getting thicker. She is really like a younger dognow. Glad I started the meds….was really scared of them but a Facebook group really helped with information about this awful disease.

    December 19, 2017 at 12:49 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Thank you for sending us your review! We are glad you’ve found a regimen and resources to help your dog.

      December 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm
  • Max Reply

    Sorry for the incoming wall of text, please bare with me if you can: I have a 12 year old dachsund that I am suspecting Cushing’s in. Last week he began wetting the bed and drinking tons of water and acting very hungry. He is now peeing every 30 minutes to every 2 hours or so. I have gotten to the point where I set an alarm every hour overnight to take him outside. Over the past year, he also has been experiencing spikes in his liver count. We got blood and urine analysis done on Tuesday and last night the vet called and talked over the results. His liver count went over 4K where it was 600 just a month or so ago. He does pant at night, but it seems to only happen when he really needs to pee/drink water, though I worry that it will begin to happen more if it is Cushings. He is bloated and also has trouble going No. 2 it seems. The specific gravity of his pee is very low. His thyroid numbers were low too. He has a lot of protein in his urine as well.

    Today he started demoral(sp?) for his liver count, which he used to be on when we first found his liver count was high. Tomorrow we go in for an ultrasound to see what, if anything, they can find. I hear the adrenal gland tumors are less common than the pituitary is that true?

    He also mentioned the ACTH test when he went over his blood/urine numbers with me, but he said he wants to wait till after the ultrasound results and wants to consult the specialist that will be coming in to administer the ultrasound. I trust my vet very much, been bringing family pets to him over 20 years since I was a kid(this is my first pet of my own). I am happy to have found this website because a lot of literature I had been finding so far is very gloomy.

    So, my questions to you are, since we are getting the ultrasound and possibly the ACTH, what else do you recommend I ask the vet to try and determine if it truly is Cushing’s, or is what we are having done enough to make the determination? And in the time we are waiting, what else can I do to help my baby till we have an answer? Foodwise, I feed him science diet’s sensitive system mixed with a little wet food from Blue Buffalo. He gets a couple treats a day and also gets egg whites at human lunchtime most days.

    December 21, 2017 at 9:35 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Yes, the majority of Cushing’s cases are pituitary and Cushings can be difficult to diagnose at times, but it does sound like your dog is experiencing a few of the symptoms associated with Cushings, so you are taking the right measures. Many vets send blood tests to the University of Tennessee because their college of veterinary medicine is an authority on Cushings and they have conducted several studies to determine the best treatment regimens for the disease. In the meantime, you can always try to alleviate the symptoms with some natural treatments because some supplements, like lignans and melatonin, can be used when Cushing’s is only suspected. They are mild yet effective in many cases. Check out our holistic treatment options page for more info: Holistic Options and remember to consult your vet before trying any new regimens. Wishing you lots of luck.

      January 3, 2018 at 3:44 pm
  • Susan Reply

    My 12 3/4 year old Shih-Tzu/Maltese Mix, Lancelot has just been dx with Adrenal Dependent Cushing’s Disease. He has a 1 1/2″ tumor on his adrenal gland. My vet said he thought the tumor was encapsulated and he did not see issues with the other organs except for some cysts on his kidneys. Lancelot does have renal dysfunction with about 30% function. My vet wants to do surgery but he did caution me about the risks. I’ve done some research and the fatality rate is pretty high during surgery and 24 hours after. As anyone been through this procedure? I want to do what’s best for Lancelot but I have some serious concerns about the surgery. Thank you.

    January 4, 2018 at 3:28 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Susan, surgery is very rare for dogs with Cushing’s due to the fatality rate you mentioned. Since your vet has recommended a risky procedure, we suggest seeking out a second and third opinion so you can consider all of your options. You may want to check out this list of holistic vets to see if there are any near you so you can get a variety: Find a Vet

      January 8, 2018 at 5:41 pm
  • pat Reply

    I live in Lexington, Ky. My Mimi., a 14 year old chow-huskie, has cushings. Can anyone suggest a vet that knows about treatments–natural, holistic, conventional. I want someone who is knowledgeable about alternatives and will work with me to give Mimi the best care possible.

    January 18, 2018 at 2:57 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      You may have to get opinions from multiple veterinarians as some specialize in holistic, some conventional, etc.; however, here is a list of vets who may be able to help. You can search by state to find the one nearest to you. We wish you luck in finding the best regimen for Mimi. Find a Vet

      January 19, 2018 at 3:23 pm
  • Amy Reply

    Hi. My dog was recently diagnosed with Cushings. We started Vetryol yesterday. Is it safe to use that and the holistic meds at same time? If we switch to holistic, how long till we should see the excessive drinking and peeing diminish? Also, what can help him sleep at night.? He is so focused on finding water that he isn’t sleeping. Thank you!

    January 25, 2018 at 7:20 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Sometimes it is recommended to utilize both medical and holistic treatment options at the same time. This regimen is safe; however, it is important to always consult your vet first as they know your dog’s Cushings case best and your dog could have other complicating factors. As for the symptoms, every dog is different. If you choose supplements like lignans and melatonin, studies have shown them to be effective in about 85% of cases. If you see an improvement, you might only see one or two symptoms improve. Some dog owners who found success saw improvement in all symptoms. On average, symptoms improve in two months but it can take up to four. Lignans and melatonin can reduce the heightened cortisol levels in Cushingoid dogs, which can help manage the increased appetite, excessive drinking, anxiety/pacing, etc. We hope this helps, and don’t forget to discuss all of your options with your vet. We wish you luck in finding the best possible treatment regimen for your dog.

      January 30, 2018 at 3:17 pm
  • Ashley Reply

    My Yorkie was diagnosed 2 years ago with chronic encephalitis and must take 2.5 mg of prednisone every other day. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes then Cushings. Since he has to continue the prednisone, will these natural products work for him at all? Thank you!

    January 31, 2018 at 2:37 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      One of the causes of Cushings is the administration of too many steroids, so the solution to manage the Cushings would be to reduce the steroids. However, since your dog has multiple diagnoses, it is important to discuss all options with your vet. Some natural products like lignans and melatonin could counteract the effects of the prednisone, but the better solution might be to reduce the prednisone, if possible. We recommend sharing this information with your vet and discussing natural options with them as they are most familiar with your dog’s case and your dog appears to have complicating factors. We wish you luck in finding the best regimen.

      January 31, 2018 at 6:16 pm
  • Adam Wall Reply

    The hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease is an endocrine irregularity that normally occurs when the adrenal glands of the dog produce cortisol hormone in a superabundant fashion. The excessive production of cortisol hormone weakens too many body organs of your furry friend and prevents them from functioning well. Thus, spotting the syndromes at the right time is crucial for your canine companion’s longer life-expectancy. But as it is difficult for a pet owner to identify the symptoms in the first place, so he should take the help of a vet after noticing any sort of irregular behavior to ensure that his four-legged furry companion can live a long life without any discomfort.

    January 31, 2018 at 12:48 pm
  • Claudia Hoffmann Reply

    My dog was diagnosed with Chushing’s a month ago and was put on Vetoryl(10mg 2x a day). She has vastly improved already (although her hair is still falling out).

    I am wondering about a combination of Vetoryl and holistic medicine? Is there anything I can give her to supplement the medication?

    February 22, 2018 at 6:39 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Claudia, some vets recommend holistic options, such as supplements like lignans and melatonin, in addition to conventional medication. We always recommend introducing your dog to any new treatment regimen slowly, and we suggest consulting your vet on the best way to do this. For more on holistic treatment, check out this page: Holistic Options

      February 27, 2018 at 5:53 pm
  • Jeannette Reply

    My dog angel has cushings. I tryed vetoryl 10mg twice a day. He had such severe direrrah the first evening the vet told me to try again the next day for s better result but no luck do I was told to stop it. Wait one week then try only once a day I did that but direrrah again. So I was told to take him off of it. I am trying a holistic treatment. It has been 3 weeks now but no improvement. Also he is on melatonin and denemarin. He stomach was more so distended last night snd psntedsll night drinks a lot of water and sleeps all day. I love him do much. Can you please help me I am starting to panic. I am so worry and I don’t know what else to do. Thank you

    March 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Unfortunately vetoryl can come with some unpleasant side effects. Holistic approaches take an average of two months to show improvements and are effective in about 85% of cases, but studies have shown this approach can take up to four months while some may see results sooner. Every dog is different and each Cushings case varies, plus there could be other complicating factors. The distended stomach is a symptom of Cushing’s, but we always recommend consulting a vet and getting multiple opinions if possible to ensure the symptoms aren’t being caused by something else. We always suggest care from a veterinarian to ensure that your dog is responding appropriately to different treatments. We wish you luck and hope your new regimen helps.

      March 28, 2018 at 4:55 pm
  • Cathy Dato Reply

    My 11 year old golden retriever has Cushings ,she is on the melatonin,HMR Lignans ,milk thistle and Same also the egg membrane joint formula and dandelion.. it’s been 5 weeks since I started her on this treatment. I do see some improvements but, just wondering how long all these herbs take to really make a big difference?? She is also on a raw diet…
    thank you

    March 22, 2018 at 2:46 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We’re glad you’ve seen some improvements. The lignan melatonin combo is effective in about 85% of cases in an average of 2 months, but studies have shown it can take up to four months to see results. Some see improvements sooner; keep in mind each Cushings case varies and there could be complicating factors. Products for the liver aren’t quite as obvious, but if your dog’s liver is overworked as it often is with Cushings, extra liver support can be highly beneficial. Joint support usually helps in about a month, but as mentioned, every dog is different. We always recommend consulting with your vet on treatment options and new regimens.

      March 28, 2018 at 4:34 pm
  • Dog Mom Reply

    My 12-yr old shepherd mix began to walk away from his food bowl before it was empty, and then finally refused food early this year. I immediately took him to the vet, and they checked his blood glucose – which was found to be very elevated – like 220-250. Vet diagnosed diabetes, and we began a course of insulin.

    After a couple of months of this, and checking weekly, his levels stubbornly failed to drop. The vet switched to Vetsulin, thinking a different form might help. No go. Blood glucose maintained at a high level – usually around 320 – but occasionally dropping back to the original 220. (Still high, I know.) Finally about 2 weeks ago, the vet decided to check him for Cushing’s disease. I did some research, and although I personally felt he wasn’t really presenting with any of the symptoms, I agreed to the testing.

    He still has the high glucose levels, but his belly is fine – no bloat. He’s still perky and interested in his surroundings. Still steps up to meet the other dogs at the dog park. No hunks of hair loss, no bald spots – but he has always shed a lot of hair and he pants a lot. He doesn’t snore – but breathes loudly with loud exhales at night like a human might do. Maybe like sleep panting? Still very active despite being 12 yrs old. He weighs about 48 lbs.

    It’s becoming more difficult for him to get up quickly, and he’s tripped on his way Up the stairs a couple of times. Seems like he has a little arthritis. He’s learned to move more slowly on the stairs, but forgets and tries to run like in the old days of his youth… then he almost trips so he slows down. He sleeps a lot, but gets up immediately if we move to go to the kitchen or outside. He then immediately sits down rather than standing to watch us. His back legs sometimes tremble.

    Ok, back to the vet: So since the blood glucose levels remained high, the vet decided to test him for Cushing’s. I left him there for 2 or 3 hours, they did the test, and when the results arrived a couple of days later – the results were Negative. Still, the vet feels like it’s Cushing’s anyway, saying the false negative is common with Cushing’s. We’re now discussing whether to start him on Trilostane. This scares me quite a bit – because if he doesn’t have Cushing’s – I’m thinking this could cause Addison’s, and now we have a whole other problem.

    I’m just not sure he’s presenting with enough Cushing’s symptoms to make me feel comfortable starting him on such a harsh medication with such debilitating side effects as Trilostane. The high blood glucose levels and the panting is about it. Maybe the weakness in the back legs too? I’m thinking of going the holistic route – but not sure what to do. He’s pretty happy and comfortable – I’m afraid I’m going to send him spiraling into a world of pain when I’m not even sure it’s the right medicine.

    I’m really confused. I love this dog – we all love him – my kids refer to him as their “brother dog”. Their friends have literally stopped by the house just to see him. We all want what’s best for him, but I’m just not confident that we’re going down the right path with Cushing’s/Addison’s. Sorry for the length of the note, but I wanted to describe his general health as well as possible. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    July 3, 2018 at 7:50 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Cushings can be difficult to diagnose; we are sorry to hear that your dog is having some issues. If you don’t want to try the harsh medications, check out our page on natural treatment options: Holistic Options You’ll be able to read about different supplements that may be able to help, which can be given when Cushings is only suspected because they are gentle on aging dogs. If you feel your dog may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis as well, a joint support can also be recommended. Keep in mind we always suggest consulting with your veterinarian and getting another opinion when possible as every dog is different and each Cushings case varies. You can also check the AHVMA website to find a holistic veterinarian near you. We wish you luck in finding the best possible regimen for your dog.

      July 23, 2018 at 9:49 pm
  • Luna Reply

    My 10 year old 11 pound yorkie has been diagnosed with cushings after the 8 hour atch test. I’ve just received his vetroyl in the mail. Dose is 5 mg 2 x a day.

    His only symptoms are pot belly and ravenous appetite. He does urinate about every 4 hours when awake. He is not hyper.

    His liver is enlarged but oncologist cannot positively diagnose as cancer just states the liver is diffused and abnormal.

    Is enlarged liver common with cushings?

    He is also on pepcid ac because of gastriris.
    He bloated belly has gone down a bit after the 2 weeks on pepcid.

    Normally, how soon does the bloated belly show improvement after treatment starts?

    I am going to try the vetroyl and would appreciate prayers for my little one as I attempt to help him.

    September 8, 2018 at 7:33 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Enlarged liver, elevated liver enzymes, or other issues with the liver can occur with Cushings as the liver can become stressed and overworked. We can’t say how soon you’ll see results as every dog is different, each Cushings case varies, and not every medication and/or supplement can be effective every time. We recommend consulting your vet on when you can expect to see a further decrease in bloating or improvement in any other areas. We hope you are able to successfully manage the symptoms and we wish you luck in finding the best regimen for your dog. For more info, feel free to read up on medical treatment options, holistic treatment options, diet options and more:

      September 11, 2018 at 4:47 pm
  • Anne Reply


    My 8yo Frenchie Larry has been recently diagnosed with Cushing’s. I wanted to try the holistic approach but I wasn’t confident enough. He started on 30mg Vetoryl just this morning. So my questions are-

    Can I still supplement safely with Milk Thistle, SAME and Lignans whilst he’s on the prescription?

    Can I take him off of the Vetoryl (with vets permission), and switch to a holistic approach if we don’t see any improvements or he suffers side effects after a few weeks, without causing any damage?
    I know that medication is life long once diagnosed, but I wasn’t sure if this was also a case of it being dangerous to stop with the prescription meds once started?!

    Thanks 🙂

    November 9, 2018 at 10:14 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      It is safe to give your dog these natural supplements while giving your dog conventional medications; however, keep in mind that every case is different and we always recommend consulting your veterinarian prior to giving your dog new supplements or medications. Some vets prefer giving your dog holistic treatments (ie lignans, melatonin, liver support, herbs, etc.) alongside drugs like Vetoryl and some prefer one or the other. If the Vetoryl does not help your dog or if your dog experiences adverse side effects, you can try switching to a holistic approach by slowly weening your dog off the vetoryl. When switching, you usually want to slowly decrease the dosage of the medication while slowly introducing the supplements since it can take a few months for the natural options to take effect. Your vet should also have ideas on how best to combine regimens or replace one. Again, every dog is different and severity varies, so we always suggest getting a second veterinarian’s opinion when possible. We wish you luck in alleviating your dog’s symptoms.

      November 26, 2018 at 7:14 pm
  • John Reply

    Our 20 kg, 7 yr English Cocker is to be tested for cushing’s disease, but he has has Prednisolone (for skin dermatitis) on and off for a few years. last was 1x20mg 10 days ago, and 1x10mg 20 days ago. Our vet now wants to perform the test, but she says he must wait 6 weeks from the last Prednisolone, before he can have the test. He drinks 3 times as much water as he should. Would taking natural remedies affect the tests? Would you recommend to wait for the tests before trying any remedy. We are concerned about the amount he drinks and it’s a long time to wait for the test. He just had bladder and ear infection as well and eats more than usual. Liver tested OK.

    November 27, 2018 at 4:47 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      If the natural treatment options start affecting your dog’s hormone levels in a positive way, it’s possible this could be reflected in the tests. However, natural treatment options often take an average of two months to show results. In some cases it can happen sooner, or it can take up to a few months. Every dog is different. It’s usually better to start a regimen sooner rather than later; however, it is always important to discuss this with your veterinarian as each case varies, there could be complicating factors, and your vet is most familiar with your dog’s case and regimen. We wish you the best of luck in finding products to manage the symptoms.

      December 11, 2018 at 11:02 pm
  • C walker Reply

    My 7 yr old golden doodle was recently diagnosed with pituitary cushings. She has no outward symptoms. Her alk phos has been increasing over the past cpl years which was my cause for concern and more testing and ultrasound. So many questions! If my vet puts her on meds what reactions do I look for? What is life expectancy? Is Cushing painful? Thank you

    December 5, 2018 at 9:00 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Cushings can be uncomfortable due to the symptoms, but as your dog is not experiencing them outwardly, perhaps her case is on the mild side. However, we can’t say for certain, or speak to the degree of severity based on this information. As far as life expectancy, treatments, and potential reactions, we recommend consulting your vet as each case varies. Some dogs live with Cushings for years and years, and are able to have the symptoms managed by either medical options (chemotherapy drugs), holistic treatments (natural supplements, acupuncture, herbs, etc.), or a combination of both. Others may not be as lucky due to the severity of the disease or complicating factors. Keep in mind the conventional medical options can come with some unpleasant side effects (ie vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, etc.) as they can be harsh on the body; however, we recommend getting your veterinarian’s opinion, and a second vet’s opinion when possible, as they can examine your dog and get an idea of your dog’s particular case, as well as what to expect. You may want to discuss holistic options with your veterinarian as well, as they can be effective in lowering alk phos levels, especially since your dog doesn’t seem to be experiencing other symptoms. We wish you luck in finding the best regimen for your dog!

      December 12, 2018 at 10:22 pm
  • Sharon Reply

    I have a 13 year old wire haired Fox Terrier called TOBY
    He has been diagnosed with Cushings 6 weeks ago. His symptoms are excess drinking and always hungry, he needs to pee on the hour sometimes and is up 3 times every night, he sleeps a lot and his hair has got very thin and he has lost a lot of muscle and strength in his legs which shake a lot.
    I have read all the information that I can find on Cushings and feel that both chemotherapy drugs or a holistic approach carry some nasty side effects, hence I have not started him on any treatment. Is this an unkind decision as although he has problems they are all things we can manage.
    He seems happy in his self and still enjoys walks, food, the occasional game of fetch and a good cuddle.
    Is there anything you can recommend to give him just to make him feel more like his old self.

    December 15, 2018 at 8:50 am
  • Angela Reply

    My 12 y/o Cavapoo was diagnosed with diabetes and Cushings. He weights approximately 12 lbs. He lost so much hair, pants all the time, drinks and urinates excessively. We switched him to Origen Refuonal Red dog food. He gets 5units of insulin twice daily. The vet wants to start on medication for the Cushings. What dose of melatonin, lignans and flaxseed would I give him? I’d rather try the wholistic approach first. Thanks in advance.

    January 3, 2019 at 2:46 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      If you are going the holistic route, it’s usually recommended to give 1-2 mg of lignan per pound of body weight once a day (12- roughly 25 mg per day for your dog) and 3 mg of melatonin every 12 hours. Keep in mind each case varies in severity and every dog is different. We always recommend discussing your dog’s regimen with a veterinarian. We wish you luck and hope the lignans and melatonin help manage your dog’s symptoms.

      January 8, 2019 at 10:08 pm
    • Glynda Reply

      Angela, unfortunately when given as primary treatment, melatonin and lignans will have a negligible effect on lowering excess cortisol, which is the hallmark adrenal steroid in pituitary dependent cushing’s and often times in functional adrenal tumors. High levels of cortisol create insulin resistance and until you get your dog’s cortisol reduced down to within a therapeutic range, you will likely have a fight on your hands to get the blood glucose regulated. Seeing any improvement in symptoms with melatonin and lignans is usually not instantaneous and can take upwards of three months to determine its efficacy. Diabetic dogs with out of control blood glucose do not have the luxury of waiting that long to see if these supplements are going to be effective. I therefore highly recommend that you follow your vet’s recommendation to treat with a conventional drug like trilostane. Making decisions for our dogs is a very personal thing and I would never insert myself into that process; however, when the control of a concurrent disease like diabetes mellitus is contingent upon the control of cortisol, I think people need to know that melatonin, lignans and other alternative remedies may be helpful as an adjunct treatment in supporting organs or immune system but they’re efficacy as a stand alone regimen is highly questionable. I am hoping by now you have your dog well on the way to control of both diseases but I wanted to post in case others may find themselves in the same situation. Good luck to you and your Cavapoo.

      January 27, 2019 at 11:02 pm
  • Lori Reply

    My vet believes my 13 year old golden/lab mix has cushings. Since he is a senior, i do not want to put him through the side effects of the traditional medicine. I have started him on a raw food diet and have been giving him Si Miao San herbs. Do you think it would be safe to introduce lignans/melatonin with the herbs or would that be too much? Thank you so much for any information you have.

    June 12, 2019 at 7:22 pm
  • Marguerite Smolen Reply

    There was a small study showing that Retinoic Acid shrank tumors in canines with no negative side effects and suggesting this might be z novel therapy for Cushings disease. I’m curious to know the University of Tennesse’s researchers thoughts on this. My 80-lb Am Bulldog had an ultrasojnd indicating a tumor on the right adrenal gland that looks benign but the vets say she will develop Cushing’s. (And I do realizd my dog does not have a pituary tumor, but I’m still curious about this possible treatment.)

    July 21, 2019 at 5:25 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      This is a great study. Thank you for sharing.

      February 28, 2020 at 9:11 pm
  • Lyne Allem Reply

    I have a 16 1/2 yr old mixed small dog. 19.5#. She has Cushings and hypothyroid. I have been giving her Vetoryl 5 mg once a day. My vet said it was ok to give lignans and Melatonin. Her ACTH test was PERFCT and now I am worried about lowering her Coritsol level too much.. Is it ok to give all 3 meds? She pants all the time, drinks and eats excessively. Has the standard pot belly and hair loss. I want her remaining years to be the best possible

    September 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I have a 12 year old golden who is 75 pounds and may have cushings, I have read on natural treatments but I am confused about lignans: is it both
    sdg 1 milligram per lb, and
    HMR 10-40 mg together as a dose or is it one or the other ?
    And would I give my golden 40 mg of hmr as a dose

    January 8, 2020 at 2:42 pm
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    January 29, 2020 at 8:54 am
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  • Grace Simonson Reply

    Thank you for the respect you show to veterinarians in spite of differing treatment modalities. It is so much better when we can work together.

    Grace, DVM

    September 7, 2020 at 2:23 pm
  • Sharon Enenkel Reply

    My mother in laws 13 year old Bichon has Cushings Disease. She won’t eat, pees all the time and is losing weight. This dog is so important to her and she has spent a truckload of money at the vet, something she doesn’t have a whole lot of! Her husband died in February and because of CoVid we cannot visit her except sitting in the yard, because she has a heart condition and I work in healthcare. Because we live in Canada the outdoor visits are going to get harder. She is getting so depressed and considering euthanizing. Is there anything else we can do?

    October 21, 2020 at 5:48 pm

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