Diet for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease

Diet for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease

Many dog owners are turning to a raw diet to help improve their dog’s health, especially when other options for treating Cushing’s in dogs have not seemed to help. Before starting a raw diet, be sure to consult your veterinarian, and read about the two sides of the raw diet theory below.

Raw Diet Advocates.
Many top breeders feed their dogs a raw diet. The raw diet theory advocates reverting back to the diet of dogs before their domestication, thus potentially improving their health. Hunting dogs, beagles, huskies, grey hounds and various other dog breeds are given raw meat by certain breeders. Many dog owners who have turned to natural and raw food for their dogs have reported excellent results. Countless vets are proponents of raw diets as well. Healthy skin, coat, and teeth, smaller stool, less odor, and increased energy are some of the potential advantages of the raw diet. Almost all carnivorous animals eat raw meat and enjoy benefits that are not found or replicated in processed dog foods. An emphasis on the right fruits and vegetables, bones, and raw meats is increasing as knowledge of the raw diet spreads. As proponents of the raw diet increase, so too does the awareness of the potential harm in commercial pet foods, which are often grain based.

Raw Diet Critics
It is also believed that a raw diet may not be balanced enough over a long period of time. Some vets believe that a raw diet could cause dogs to get sick from possible bacteria in raw meat. Another problem with a raw diet is the potential for contaminating your kitchen. Proper cleanup is always required. Bones can be a hazard as well, as the risk of the dog choking or harming their teeth is a possibility. While some vets support the idea of a raw diet, the FDA and some mainstream vets do not recommend it. It is always necessary to discuss these options with a veterinarian as they will have an idea, based on the severity of the Cushings, if it can be beneficial for your dog. We recommend seeking multiple opinions from different veterinarians when possible.


Is it right for your Dog?
Dogs are born with the necessary enzymes to kill the bacteria in raw meat. These enzymes that reside in the mouth are designed to fight bacteria. Some vets believe that a dog may not have enough of the enzymes needed because they are not accustomed to raw meat, but gradually starting a dog off on the raw diet can allow the dog to accumulate more of the bacteria killing enzymes. It should also be noted that people eat raw meat when stored in the proper conditions, and that dogs can benefit as well. If you and your vet have determined a raw diet is the best option for your dog, be sure to give your dog good quality meat, and allow plenty of time to give your dog a chance to acclimate and to build up the necessary enzymes to destroy any latent bacteria.

You can mitigate the concerns regarding a non-balanced diet by ensuring that you not only feed your dog raw meat, but also raw vegetables, eggs, and small amounts of fruit and starches. Raw meats include raw beef and muscle meat (sometimes still on the bone), bones (whole or ground), and/or organ meats (liver or kidneys). Some vets and breeders may recommend raw salmon as well. In some cases raw chicken is incorporated into a raw diet; however, it is important to discuss this option (and all options) with a veterinarian as some studies indicate that raw chicken can be potentially harmful. Small amounts of dairy may also be recommended (i.e. a probiotic yogurt with live and active cultures – which is good to mix with lignans if you give them to your dog with Cushings, as it can help with the absorption of the lignans). Read more about lignans for dogs here ). You can also give your dog dietary supplements (i.e. a canine multivitamin containing vitamins and minerals essential for daily health) if you worry about an incomplete diet. You can eliminate the concern of bone fragmentation by removing any bones; however, raw bones do not break as easily as cooked bones, so this is only a slight concern.

Calcium and phosphorous are the most likely deficiencies with a raw diet.

What does a raw diet consist of?
For vegetables, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce, bok choy,  and spinach are recommended. Good fruits to try are apples (no skin, core, or seeds), blueberries, banana, pumpkin (no seeds), watermelon (no seeds), and others. Avoid seeds and rinds for all. Meat: kidneys, liver, muscle meat, and eggs for protein are recommended. Bones can be whole or even ground up. Yogurt is also a food to consider, especially if you are giving your dog flaxseed lignans for Cushings Disease. Yogurt with live active cultures is very beneficial in expediting the uptake of the lignan. Read more about lignans for dogs here. (Note: Fruits to avoid are grapes, avocados, tomatoes, citrus, and fruits with pits. Vegetables to avoid are onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Also avoid nuts and raw or green potatoes (cooked potatoes are okay on occasion; cooked sweet potatoes can be good for dogs)). Remember to consult your vet about specifics if you are questioning any kind of food included in the raw diet.

When your Dog has Cushing’s
Cushing’s in dogs can cause radical changes in your dog’s overall health and behavior. If your dog has Cushing’s disease, nutrition could help improve your dog’s condition, along with the right supplements. It is worth having a discussion with your vet to determine if the benefits of a raw diet outweigh the risks.  Trying the raw diet is not a permanent choice; if you don’t see the benefits, you can always change back to the dog’s previous diet.

What else can you do for your dog with Canine Cushing’s?
We provide several homeopathic options for alleviating the symptoms of Cushings in Dogs on our Holistic Treatment Options page. To read about natural treatments for Cushing’s Disease, click here

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Comments (87)

  • Michelle Abel Reply

    Which raw diet is recommended for a dog which Cushings?

    January 27, 2017 at 7:25 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      A raw diet is sometimes recommended for dogs with Cushings and/or Atypical Cushing’s, which can include raw beef, some raw fish, raw liver, etc., along with eggs, and fruits and veggies that are safe for dogs. We always encourage readers to consult their veterinarian before changing their dog’s diet as their vet is most familiar with their particular case of Cushings.

      April 27, 2017 at 8:46 pm
      • Glynda Pomerantz Reply

        I fed my two cushingoid dogs raw diet and they thrived on it. In my experience, general practice vets have limited knowledge/education on both canine cushing’s and nutrition. Asking a vet for nutritional recommendations will most likely to be met with a recommendation for a prescription diet piled high on their shelves, a very negative opinion of raw diets or a blank stare. If you want sound nutritional advice from a knowledgeable vet, find a board certified veterinary nutritionist who will formulate an appropriate diet for your dog.

        November 14, 2017 at 3:06 pm
      • Britt Culver Reply

        I am a Veterinarian and Board certified internist, There is absolutely NO scientific evidence to support the claim that raw diets are beneficial EVER.

        March 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm
        • MonaMae Reply

          And here in lies the problem with modern medicine not having enough education in nutrition!

          June 29, 2023 at 11:43 pm
    • Janis Jacobucci Reply

      I have a MiniChnauzer other Chushing Disease. I give him flaxseed ( cranberry mix ) . The vet has him on Royal Canine and he has agas problem with this food. I replaced his food with Dr Marty’s Natural Food Mix and the gas problem disappeared. But the vet stated that he needs “ GRAIN “ PUT him back on ROYAL
      CANINE and the GAS is back and he is not HAPPY !! What can Ido to make my dog comfortable. I disagree with my vet GTAIN is a
      PROBLEM for my dog so is this certain food . The name of the food is GASTESTIONAL something. I will look it up and send you the correct name

      March 18, 2020 at 3:26 am
      • Anatolia Reply

        Do not give them grains or carbs. This will spike their insulin, and only feed them organic.

        October 2, 2021 at 5:53 am
      • MonaMae Reply

        You should find a new vet!

        June 29, 2023 at 11:39 pm
  • DTX Reply

    Can you give an example of the raw diet? Exactly what type of meat?

    April 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Raw meat would include raw beef, raw salmon, raw liver, etc. Some breeders may include raw chicken, but raw chicken is debatable, so we always encourage readers to consult their vet before switching their dog’s diet as each Cushings case is different and their veterinarian will have a protocol on how best to manage the disease.

      April 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm
      • Carol Allen Reply

        I cannot believe raw chicken should be given to any one, dog or human. I developed a very bad camplobacter infection from eating a very small amount of undercooked chicken.

        October 13, 2017 at 3:13 am
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          While people should never eat raw chicken, dogs have the enzymes that can kill the bacteria in raw meat whereas humans do not. However, this is one of the debates of the raw diet, whether too much exposure to conventional dog food has caused dogs to develop less of the necessary enzymes than their non-domesticated counterparts. This is one of the reasons a raw diet must be introduced slowly, in order to build the enzymes back up, and it is also why any changes in diet or treatment regimen should be discussed with the dog’s veterinarian as they are most familiar with each individual case. Some vets swear by the raw diet and strongly advocate it while others prefer more conventional dog food.

          November 10, 2017 at 4:08 pm
  • Rebecca Reply

    My dog has cushings and diabeties. Would he bennift from these suggestions as well?

    August 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Oftentimes dogs with Cushings also have Diabetes. A raw diet could be worth looking into to see if it could be beneficial for your dog. We always recommend consulting your vet for any changes in diet or treatment regimen as they are most familiar with your dog’s particular case. Good luck!

      August 31, 2017 at 3:51 pm
      • Jan Harris Reply

        I have heard that low Purine food are important when feeding a dog with Cushings. Is this true? I live in a rural area and my vet is not an advocate of raw feeding. She is the only vet I found in my area that actually had patients with Cushing’s. Most had never treated a dog with it.

        June 16, 2018 at 7:24 pm
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          We have also read that low purine food can be preferred for dogs with Cushings, but we can’t speak to a dog’s particular case since each Cushings case varies and every dog is different. Although we have a great deal of experience with Cushings and our site has contributions from vets, we aren’t veterinarians and we always recommend getting a second opinion. If you wish to find another veterinarian that has more experience with the disease, we would like to refer you to the AHVMA website, where you’ll be able to search by state and see if there is a holistic vet near you: Find a Vet They may have more diet and treatment suggestions. We wish you luck in finding the best possible regimen for your dog.

          June 21, 2018 at 7:46 pm
  • Denise Ostin Reply

    I give my dog that has cushions disease mixed vegetables that are slightly heated do you think that is okay, plus I give her a hard boiled egg every day is that diet okay for her

    October 2, 2017 at 2:17 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Eggs and veggies should be fine and a raw diet is sometimes recommended for dogs with Cushings (depending on each Cushings case), but we always suggest discussing diet and regimen with your veterinarian as they are more familiar with your dog in particular.

      October 3, 2017 at 5:10 pm
  • Katie Reply

    What can I put on my Maltese who is scratching and biting herself as the result of being on mitotane maintenance dose? She is creating sores on her lower back and is always smelly. I’m washing her weekly with Aloveen oatmeal shampoo and leave in conditioner. It’s not helping.
    Thanks in advance.

    October 17, 2017 at 3:14 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      It sounds like your dog is having some problems with allergies; your veterinarian would have a better idea on whether or not your dog needs allergy shots, medications, topicals, etc. as they are most familiar with your dog and we don’t know very much about skin conditions. If you have any questions about Cushing’s feel free to ask us and we’ll help to answer them as best as we can.

      November 10, 2017 at 4:55 pm
      • Diane Reply

        Could the scratching be related to the vegetables eaten each day that are carbs and turn to sugar and elevating the blood sugar. Just like it does in people

        October 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm
    • Samantha Reply

      Your dog may be allergic to oatmeal too, in which case the shampoo will not help. There are some great online holistic websites. Also I recommend free range grass fed meat; factory farmed animals are full of chemicals and anti-biotics and growth hormones. My dogs issues did not improve until I started feeding him free range meat from a local farmer.

      February 14, 2018 at 3:25 am
    • jennifer ferguson Reply

      Katie, mitotane and not vetoryl for the medication ? My 15 yr old minpin takes 10mg daily of vetoryl and is doing great. I feed her organic meats, whitefish and fruits and veggies(blueberries, cherries, mangoes, apples(no skin)squash, broccoli, peas, green beans, brussle sprouts, carrotts,cinnamon, honey(raw). From what I’ve learned cushings dogs need a low phosphorus diet, so with eggs, give the whites, not the yolks and no bananas, or canned salmon. Feel free to correct me if any of my information is wrong. Best wishes for you and your dog.

      February 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm
    • sweetie2064 Reply

      never put conditioner after you shampoo. it makes the itch worse, I have a maltese also and my groomer and also hes a vet told me that. so try it.

      April 24, 2020 at 11:11 pm
  • amy Reply

    Many sites and articles say that dogs with Cushing’s should avoid meat – beef, etc. – and instead eat salmon, cod and/or sardines as protein because the beef and other meats are inflammatory. Omega-3s in fish are anti-inflammatory. Do you agree with this? I find this very confusing.

    October 20, 2017 at 5:54 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      There is often conflicting information on the internet, as well as from veterinarians, about the best diet for dogs. Even among humans there are dozens of diet plans and debates on which is healthiest. The truth is that every person is different, just like every dog is different, and each Cushing’s case varies. Even the same animal will have different nutritional needs during his or her life time. We always recommend consulting your veterinarian as they are most familiar with your dog’s particular case. If you give your dog fish (i.e. salmon, cod, sardines), it could be beneficial as the omega 3’s and 6’s in fish are anti inflammatory, which can be helpful for many conditions. While it may not be critical to Cushings in particular, fish is applicable to the natural diet. Cushings is caused by a tumor on the pituitary or adrenal gland, which causes an excess production of cortiosl; therefore reducing cortisol is the chief concern. Sometimes experimentation with different diets is helpful and as always, we recommend following your vet’s advice since they are familiar with your dog.

      November 10, 2017 at 4:28 pm
  • Jeff Reply

    I give my dog with Cushing’s a white rice/beef/vegetable mix in the morning and dry food with cooked chicken at night. Do you think cutting out the dry food and rice would be beneficial?

    November 1, 2017 at 11:04 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      If the current diet you are giving your dog seems to be helping, sticking with it might be best. We recommend consulting your veterinarian as they are most familiar with your dog’s Cushings case. They’ll know best whether or not to start weening your dog off the rice and conventional food or if you should keep up with the current diet.

      November 10, 2017 at 5:02 pm
  • Lois Jordan Reply

    We adopted an 11 year old pom with cushings disease one year ago. So far, we have spent over $2000.00 for his care. I hear there is an organization that helps with dogs that have cancer. Is there one that helps with Cushings?

    November 3, 2017 at 11:11 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We’re sorry to hear about your dog. We are not aware of any organizations providing financial aid for dogs with Cushings; however, you may be able to find some assistance online or through your vet. Pet insurance may also be something worth looking into in your case. Wishing you the best of luck.

      November 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm
    • Victoria Reply

      There is an organization that may be able to assist you. Tipper and Squirt. Google for more information.

      January 15, 2019 at 5:55 pm
  • Pj Shaver Reply

    When you say raw beef and chicken, do you mean just like buying a lb of ground chuck and a lb of ground chicken at the grocery? Would it hurt to bake or fry it? Worried about bacteria in raw meat. We have a 13 yr old corgi who may have cushings. Testing being done this week.

    November 14, 2017 at 9:26 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      The raw diet entails raw, uncooked meat. Fried would not be recommended for any dog. You can cook the meat; however, one of the reasons the raw diet is recommended is because food in its raw form contains more nutrients and some of these nutrients are lost in the cooking process. The bacteria in raw meat can be a concern and it is one of the reasons that the raw diet is met with skepticism at times; however, dogs have more of the enzymes required to kill the bacteria in raw meat. It’s possible that too much exposure to conventional dog foods has resulted in domesticated animals possessing less of the necessary enzymes than their counterparts, which is why it is always recommended to introduce raw food very slowly in order to build up these enzymes. We always instruct our readers to consult their veterinarian whenever switching their dog’s diet or regimen. Keep in mind that some veterinarians and breeders swear by it and others prefer traditional dog food. If you stick with traditional, try to find as natural a dry or canned food as possible with minimal fillers.

      November 22, 2017 at 3:50 pm
  • Sue Reply

    How much in MG to you give of each Milk Thistle/ Dandeline/ Ginko Biloba??

    November 19, 2017 at 10:29 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We recommend seeking the help of a holistic veterinarian who is familiar with alternative methods as they will know the best dosage for your dog. Milk thistle is usually 1-2 mg per pound of body weight; however, your vet may have different recommendations since each Cushing’s case is different. Some research suggests 1 teaspoon of dandelion per 20 lbs of weight can be helpful, but again, this can vary and a liquid may be recommended for some dogs while some holistic vets may prefer dry herbs. The same goes for Gingko Biloba as it comes in different forms and may not be recommended in combination with certain foods or medications. It is important to consult your vet whenever introducing new supplements to your dog.

      November 22, 2017 at 4:35 pm
  • Virginia Reply

    My 15 year old female dog has cushings disease and an enlarged liver. What kind of diet would be best? Would suppliments help also?

    December 24, 2017 at 10:15 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Some veterinarians recommend a raw diet for dogs with Cushings; however, some prefer more conventional dog food options. Check out our blog to read more on the raw diet debate, and always consult your veterinarian when it comes to changing your dog’s diet or treatment regimen. Changes to diet should also be introduced slowly.
      If you wish to go the supplement route, we would like to refer you to our natural treatment options page: Holistic Options You can read about a few different supplements on this page, including ones for liver support. Lignans and melatonin are the supplements that have been clinically tested and shown to be effective in reducing heightened cortisol levels in Cushingoid dogs. Good luck, and don’t forget to discuss your options with your veterinarian as each Cushing’s case varies and your vet is most familiar with your dog.

      December 26, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    • Sandra Whitford Reply

      Are flax hull lignans safe and beneficial to give to dogs who may or may not have Cushings? What would be the benefit.

      June 19, 2020 at 12:25 pm
      • Cushings in Dogs Reply

        Yes, they are safe to give whether they have cushings or not. If giving with Cushing’s it’s best to give in conjunction with melatonin.

        August 7, 2020 at 6:41 pm
      • Dorothy Tan Reply

        Hi my 13 year old has cushings. I give him flax hull Lignan and melatonin. It has been amazing, no more panting, drinking lots of water, pee very often etc.
        His condition has stabilize, do look it up.

        October 5, 2020 at 2:45 pm
  • Lauren Crystal Reply

    Just find out my 10 year old dog may have Cushing’s. I am so conflicted on what to feed her now, hearing so many different things. Dandelion, gingko baloba, milk this, meletonin, lignans….? Stay away from purines. I don’t even know what that is……do the Raw food diet…..etc….
    Where do I even begin? Where do I order all the stuff from? Do I order the supplements specifically for dogs or can I just order any old ginko and milk thistle? And does dandelion come in powder form?
    It’s pretty upsetting…….
    Any advice is appreciated

    January 12, 2018 at 1:58 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Lauren, beginning your research can be overwhelming. We try to provide as much info as possible so our readers, along with their veterinarians, can make informed decisions. It’s important to remember that every Cushings case is different and every dog is different, just like humans, which is why certain diets and supplements work for some dogs and humans but not for others. Some vets and breeders swear by the raw diet and prefer it over conventional dog foods with synthetic ingredients and fillers, while others have their reservations. We always recommend consulting your vet before trying any new diet or regimen, and if possible, get multiple opinions from veterinarians who have examined your dog.

      As with any new regimen, be sure to introduce it to your dog slowly. If you want to go the natural route first, which is often recommended in the early stages because supplements like lignans and melatonin can be given when Cushings is only suspected, Lignans for Life has a variety of products for dogs, including lignans, melatonin, and milk thistle. They do not carry dandelion, which does come in a powder or dry herb form, and they do not carry ginko biloba, but these can be found at any health food store. As always, we recommended discussing all of your options with your vet. Here are some helpful links in the meantime:
      Holistic Treatment Options
      Vet Recommended Treatments
      We wish you luck in your search.

      January 12, 2018 at 5:37 pm
  • Sandy Reply

    My 15 year old Westie was just diagnosed with Cushings. I started him on the raw diet today. Can i give him plain yogurt and cottage cheese as well to mix up his meal? What are your thoughts on plain yogurt and cottage cheese

    February 21, 2018 at 12:59 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Sandy, since small amounts of yogurt and cheese are okay for dogs, cottage cheese should be as well, but we recommend consulting your veterinarian as they are most familiar with your dog’s Cushings case. We hope the raw diet is able to help improve your dog’s symptoms.

      February 27, 2018 at 5:47 pm
  • Christine S. Reply

    My 14 yr old chihuahua/terrier mix has been diagnosed with Cushings. Along with the frequent thirst, urination, and ravenous appetite, he has also gained a lot of weight, has a large belly and gets weakness in his back legs so that now he struggles to go upstairs or do any walking for that matter. He lays around most of the day and does not want to go out on walks. I would really like to try to help him lose weight, as I feel it will put less stress on him. However. the ravenous appetite from Cushings has him feeling hungry all the time, and he is constantly begging, whining and foraging for food (often he eats the cat food when I’m not looking.) So, to help him lose weight and feel full at the same time, I have cut back slightly on his regular dog food, (which is a human grade wet food that is very high quality, but is not raw) and I have been adding cooked “riced” cauliflower and riced broccoli, as well as small amounts of riced sweet potato. (its minced up very finely). I figured that adding more veggies would stretch out his food, make him feel fuller, but with less calories. However, I am wondering if this is hurting him in any way, as dogs aren’t really designed to eat so much vegetable matter. His food is about 1/4 to 1/3 vegetables now. He is 20 lbs and a normal weight for him would be 11 pounds. Most his life he has been well over that. Is feeding him a greater proportion of vegetables like this ok, or can it be harmful? (to be honest my vet has not been real helpful, she just wants to give him dry prescription food which I won’t do.)

    March 25, 2018 at 4:19 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      While vegetables can be good for dogs, we can’t say for certain exactly what is the appropriate amount. We recommend searching for a vet who is more cooperative, one who can examine your dog and assess the severity of your dog’s Cushings case since they vary. The American Holistic Veterinary Association has a list of holistic vets where you can search by state to find one near you. Here is the link: Find a Vet We wish you the best of luck as you continue to fine tune your dog’s regimen.

      March 28, 2018 at 4:17 pm
    • Mel Reply

      My dog has been diagnosed with cushings desise and was always drinking and urinating. Once she was diagnosed and put on medication her big tummy that we thought was fat has gone down.She can now hold her urine all night and doesn’t drink so much now but is constantly hungry has had the kitchen bin over as well .she just constantly wants food
      As long as she has her medication for life then we have been told she will have a bit of a better life.

      June 11, 2018 at 10:26 pm
      • doreen paul Reply

        I have a 5 year old pom/sitz how has gone blind, sards. As gained so much weight, always hungry and drinks alot of water, going to be tested cushions. What to feed him? What other problem could he have? Very worried!!

        November 6, 2018 at 4:37 pm
        • Cushings in Dogs Reply

          Weight gain, ravenous appetite, and excessive water drinking are all common symptoms of Cushings, but it’s difficult to say if these are a result of Cushings until you get your test results. Even then sometimes tests aren’t conclusive as Cushings can be tricky to diagnose. Some veterinarians swear by the raw diet and some swear by regular canned or dry foods, as long as they have as few fillers as possible. Each case varies and every dog is different, but we would like to direct you to our Symptoms Page to help you with expectations and our treatment pages for: Holistic Options , Medical Options , and Vet Recommended Treatment Options. Also feel free to check out what treatments are helping our readers at our Testimonials Page We always recommend consulting your veterinarian before trying any new products, and getting a second veterinarian’s opinion when possible. We hope you and your vet are able to put together a proper regimen to help alleviate your dog’s symptoms and we wish you the best of luck.

          November 26, 2018 at 7:00 pm
    • Lance Reply

      My beagle has chushings and loves to eat the cats fancy feast. We have also fought him swallowing our cats kill whole!( a bird, small rabbit and a mouse!) Anyways I believe it is recommended a quarter of their food is vegetables and the other three quarters are protein source(turkey and salmon are good choices). I would think the only concern wih stretching the food with vegetables would be not getting enough protein but if your just adding on to his normal amount of food it should be fine. Important in cushings diet is low fat, low purine content (high levels found in kidney and liver meat), low fiber(shred the vegetables)

      August 20, 2018 at 2:17 pm
  • Dali Reply

    Hello we are in the middle of testing but my 15-year-old dog has several symptoms similar to cushings. We feed both dogs grain free kibble plus a mixture of cooked white rice, cooked chicken and vegetables . I am not seeing much information about giving my dog rice. In advance of additional testing which is not easy to determine I would like to adjust to a healthy diet and any natural or holistic supplements and methods as I feel there’s probably no harm. So my main question is if they cooked white rice is OK? And I usually mix that with cooked chicken or ground beef and mix with grain free food. Thank you

    April 19, 2018 at 12:43 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      It is not uncommon for veterinarians to suggest white rice for dogs in the case of an upset stomach. Unless an allergy is present, rice is okay for dogs; however, it’s usually not recommended to feed it to your dog more than a few times a week. A safe amount is usually about 3 times a week with some added protein, but we always recommended consulting with your veterinarian and/or pet nutritionist as each Cushings case varies, every dog is different, and diets that work for some might not work for all. Brown rice is preferred in some cases so that would be another good question for your vet. We wish you luck as you find the best possible regimen for your dog. For info on the holistic treatments you mentioned, you may want to check out this link if you haven’t already: Holistic Options

      May 16, 2018 at 5:08 pm
    • Janie D. Reply

      Hi Dali…in my own experience, cooked white rice is usually introduced to a dog’s diet to help “bind” — primarily in the case of an upset tummy (when episodes of diarrhea occur) and are limited in duration of use. Rice is a grain…and a starch. Most healthier diets involve a grain-free approach. By mixing rice in regularly with your grain-free food, you are defeating such a benefit for your dog.

      One of our dogs was just recently diagnosed with adrenal Cushings (no tumor perceived) and has been prescribed Vetoryl. After quite a bit of research on the side effects of this and the variety of pharmaceuticals vets prescribe to address this condition, we have opted to pursue the SDG Lignans & Melatonin holistic path instead. This will be something we closely monitor through testing over time along with some dietary modifications (i.e., removing/reducing carrots, potatoes, etc. that convert to sugar) from his diet. At this time, we feel a natural, healthier, non-chemical exposure should be our FIRST line of defense — and hopefully the only one he will need.

      Owners have to be advocates for their pets. We’ve gone through far too many negative learning experiences at the expense of too many other pets over the years…having relied on veterinarians and their dependence (guesswork) on pharmaceuticals, and have no interest in repeating the same again at this time . Thank you for providing one site that we included as part of our own research.

      August 3, 2018 at 8:41 pm
      • Tracey Hillis Reply

        Janie d, I have a yorkie 15 years old. Diagnosed with Cushings disease February 2017. Our vet started treating him with vetoryl immediately. The side effects were unreal. Every month we had a new issue and it was getting expensive. I myself don’t take any medication I truly believe diet has everything to do with health issues. I finally decided to take him off all meds 3 months into treatment and switch to a raw diet. I fed him orijen raw regional medallions. Within 2 months the cushings was gone blood levels were normal again.

        August 22, 2018 at 2:34 am
        • Amy Adkisson Reply

          Hello Tracey,
          Our 14 yo Maltese has just been diagnosed with Cushings and we have this week started the Vetoryl. I’ve read A LOT and was glad to stumble upon your post. Since it’s from 2018, I thought you might be able to give us a heads up on your experience. Would you still recommend the raw food route without the Vetoryl? Thank you.

          April 5, 2023 at 10:51 am
      • Rocky’s Girl Reply

        I couldn’t agree more with your post. I too have decided to go melatonin and sdg lignans. What r u doing for diet?

        September 5, 2018 at 2:54 am
    • Janine reynolds Reply

      New studies have shown that dogs need grain to prevent heart disease. After much research I give my large malamute 1/2 home cooked meals from the store “just for Dogs “ recipe and 1/2 dry high quality kibble from Fromm.
      But he is seeing a nutritionist because he may have Cushings disease.

      November 5, 2019 at 5:15 pm
  • Shirley M Reply

    Hi there.
    My 10 year old Shih Tzu had just been confirmed by a second vet practice, a Dog Trust, after lots of tests again, to have Cushings. He is prescribed with one 30 mg of Vetoryl per day.
    Haven’t done much research on the side effects of this drug and the instructions are not that clear. At the same time we had not been told by the vet whether any specific diet will be required for the Cushings.
    Please kindly advice on both these issues.

    August 26, 2018 at 7:36 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Shirley, instructions and dosage depends on weight, condition, etc. Every dog is different just as each Cushings case varies. We recommend discussing the Vetoryl instructions with your veterinarians. As with any chemotherapy drugs, there is the risk of harmful side effects and vetoryl shouldn’t be given to dogs with kidney or liver disease; but again, we recommend addressing this with one of your vets. You can also check their website, or any sites that carry vetoryl, to find instructions relating to your dog’s weight and particulars. We suggest giving your vets a call to discuss whether or not the raw diet may be right for your dog as your vets are most familiar with your case and regimen. If you stick with conventional dry or canned dog food, we recommend searching for one that is as natural as possible without fillers or additives. We wish you luck in finding the best possible regimen for your dog.

      August 29, 2018 at 8:56 pm
  • Susan Reply

    My dog has been diagnosed for three months now. She’s on Vetoryl 10mg a day, she weighs 22lbs. Her pot belly is still large but I feed her lean beef cooked and ground turkey and cooked chicken. She seems to be bored of this but won’t eat anything else. She wants table food but She refuses veggies of any kind. I was under the assumption that cushings dogs need a high protein diet. I’m sorry I won’t feed her raw meat.

    August 30, 2018 at 1:18 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Susan, every Cushings case varies, and just like with people, every dog is different. A diet that would work for some may not work for others. We always recommend consulting a veterinarian or dietitian when it comes to introducing new food as they are most familiar with your dog’s regimen. Some vets and breeders swear by the raw diet, some prefer more conventional food, and some people prefer a diet similar to the one you’re currently giving your dog. We provide info on the raw diet debate so our readers can see that there are options. If you are looking to add some variety, we definitely suggest talking to your veterinarian and getting another opinion if possible. If you decide to incorporate more conventional dry or canned dog food to switch things up, be sure to introduce this slowly and try to find food with as few fillers and additives as possible. We wish you luck in fine tuning your dog’s diet!

      August 31, 2018 at 11:28 pm
  • Jeannette Reply

    My dog angel has cushings. He is 11 years old and has it for one year now. He is untreated. Because I gave him vetroyal from the vets snd he had such severe direrrah the vet told me to stop the vetoryl. I am so scared I never ever want to loose him to this desease. He does have a pot belly and he is loosing his beautiful hair. He does drink water snd goes pee pee in the paper. I am disabled and trained both of my dogs to use pee pee pads. I am scared out if my mind because of the terrible illness he has. Is there some help for angel. He is such a beautiful loving dog. Please any advice would be so helpful. Thsnk you. Jeannette

    September 3, 2018 at 11:08 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Did your vet have any other recommendations? We suggest discussing other options, whether they be different conventional medications or holistic (more gentle) options. Some vets recommend a combination of both. You can check out our page on natural Cushings treatment options: Click here for holistic treatment options and discuss these with your vet as well. One of the benefits of going holistic is that there are no known side effects of mild supplements (ie lignans and melatonin), they can effectively reduce heightened cortisol in Cushingoid dogs, and no ongoing testing is required. We wish you luck in finding the best regimen for your dog and hope you are able to manage the symptoms. For more info, check out the other pages on our site:

      September 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm
  • Debbie Hunter Reply

    My 11 year old dog has had Cushing’s for about 3 years. She’s on Vetoryl and after about a year or more, her triglycerides tripled . The vet said it was most likely caused by the Cushing’s and not from the healthy food I had been feeding her. She told me to take her off her food and to put her on prescription food (Royal Canin low fat gastro intestinal). 30 days later my dog’s triglyceride levels were retested and levels were in perfect range. She’s been eating the dry & wet of this prescription food but at times doesn’t seem to like it so I started adding small amounts of organic chicken or turkey baby food to it and no sodium canned carrots and green beans. Most recently she won’t even eat the food with the baby food or veggies. Any suggestions? I’m nervous about her triglyceride levels going up again depending on what I can try to feed her. This week I will contact my vet for suggestions as wrll but I know she is going to say we can try the other prescription food they have (Hills). Am not sure they “believe” in the raw food diets and although I really like this vet, I don’t think she’s going to have any suggestions as far as what other types of dog foods etc I can try. Thank you.

    September 23, 2018 at 8:42 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Hi Debbie, if you are wanting to try the raw food diet we recommend introducing this slowly by combining small portions with your dog’s current diet. Unfortunately we aren’t nutritionists and as every case varies and each dog is different, we aren’t able to make specific suggestions based on this information, but we would encourage you to get a second opinion and to seek out a nutritionist that may be able to put together a varied plan that your dog won’t become tired of. We wish we could be more help and wish you luck in finding the best diet for your dog.

      November 26, 2018 at 6:16 pm
  • Phyllis Reply

    My Cocker Spaniel is 11 years old and had been diagnosed with Cushing Disease 3 years ago. I am on a fixed income and unable to treat her. I did recently have the Vet do an x-rayand an ultrasound on her. All her organs are very enlarged especially her liver. She put her on Denamarin and HillsPrescription love fat digestive care. I give her both the dry and canned. She is so skinny that she looks like a skeleton. Her pot belly has gone down quite a bit but she looks like she’s starving. She sleeps all day except when she eats. The last couple days I’ve been hand feeding her. Her legs still seem strong. In the past she would eat and immediately have a bowel movement. She still has the bowel movements but not as often She still drinks a lot of water and of course pees a lot. Her body quivers a lot when she’s sleeping. I’m so worried that this might be the timeI need to think about putting her down. What are your thoughts on this?

    November 12, 2018 at 3:07 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We are very sorry to hear that your dog is having so many issues. While we have a great deal of experience with Cushings and we have contributions from veterinarians on our website, we can not say what stage your dog is in and what the best course of action would be. We would suggest exploring some holistic treatment options as they are by far the most cost effective methods, and are therefore sustainable over an extended period of time. They are also gentle on aging dogs and should be discussed with your veterinarian. You can read more about these options at this link: Click here for holistic treatment options We always recommend getting a second opinion from a veterinarian when possible and we wish you luck in finding a viable regimen for your dog. Also feel free to publish a post on our Facebook page to see if anyone else has any suggestions.

      November 26, 2018 at 5:50 pm
  • Kat Reply

    We have a border Terrier that is 10 years old, and has been diagnosed with Cushing disease. We tried him on Vetoryl but he had a bad reaction and can no longer take. The vet has done a scan and found that it’s on his brain so basically there is nothing else they can do. The main issue is he constantly has diarrhoea, is there anything we can do with his food to stop this? His fur is also falling out and he has sores all over.

    February 6, 2019 at 9:17 am
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      We are sorry to hear about your dog. While diarrhea is not ordinarily a common Cushings symptom, hair loss and skin lesions are, and these symptoms can potentially be managed with the right regimen. As far as your question referencing your dog’s food, we recommend asking your veterinarian (or getting a second opinion from another vet or nutritionist) to see if the raw diet is a viable option for your dog’s case. There are a couple options when it comes to treatment regimens: you can go the conventional route, which involves chemotherapy drugs (keep in mind these can be harsh on your dog and can elicit some unpleasant side effects), or you can try alternative treatment options like lignans and melatonin, which can naturally reduce heightened cortisol levels, thus helping to manage the symptoms. You can read about both options here: Holistic Treatment Options; Medical Treatment Options As for skin lesions, some of our readers try different topicals or oils (ie CBD oil), but this is also something we suggest discussing with your veterinarian, as we always recommend consulting your vet when trying new medications, supplements, diets, or regimens. We wish you luck in finding the best options for your dog.

      February 6, 2019 at 6:35 pm
  • Hazel Reply

    So many different ideas very confusing.
    Seen vet 7 days ago still waiting results of scab scrape .
    What can I do to help my pet in the mean time.

    April 5, 2019 at 4:23 pm
  • Hazel Reply

    Vet still not know for sure if it is cushions.

    April 5, 2019 at 4:27 pm
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    August 3, 2019 at 2:25 pm
    • Katie W Reply

      What brand of dog food is recommended for cushings. My boxer has lost 8 pounds in a month. Were told to switch his dog food. Wanting high protein, low fat, with grains.

      April 30, 2020 at 10:38 pm
  • Denyse Reply

    What a are the thoughts on Stella & Chewys raw diet, I started feeding my 16 year old maltese with Cushings Stella & Chewys freeze dried raw diet & Nutra Thrive Dr, Gary Richter, so she will get all her nutrients & viamins . I already see change in her energy level an I also feed her freeze dried raw treats.

    October 23, 2019 at 1:14 pm
    • Sarah Reynolds Reply

      My Border Terrier is thirteen. She was diagnosed with Cushings 2 months ago..
      She had the usual symptoms, which made me go to the vet. Discovered she had an ear infection, which has now cleared up. Also put on a drip. very dehydrated. Last week tested for bearing as She was totally ignoring my calls and yes she is deaf.
      Feel so sorry for her. She is not eating like she used to, due to the illness she was always hungry.
      Although I am giving her a varied diet vegetable chick fish and dry food.
      I would say she eats one full meal a day.
      I am very interested in the Stella & Chewys dried raw diet.
      Can you give me more information please. Regards Sarah

      August 27, 2020 at 9:29 pm
  • Kay Reply

    My dog is a 12 yr old toy poodle. We have been dealing with cushings for about a year. However the past 3 months she has lost so much weight. She is practically skin and bones. She will not eat dog food of any kind. I have resorted to feeding her chicken, eggs, and green beans… but she hardly eats that now. She has not been vet treated because financially I am unable. She is on a holistic medicine for adrenal support. It has helped with her frequent urination and panting. She is losing alot of fur and beginning to get sores on her skin as well as several moles and dark spots. Any help would be appreciated.

    December 27, 2019 at 6:13 pm
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    April 19, 2020 at 5:19 pm
    • Cushings in Dogs Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the article. We aren’t currently working on an additional article for diet for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease. We are working on a couple new articles currently though! Stay tuned!

      April 19, 2020 at 5:23 pm
  • Brenda Reply

    Hello my dog has cushions and kidney disease. Its confusing since Both diseases have different needs and one is low fat another protien, i am so confused. He just got diagnosed.. my vet says no raw and only says hills, my dog hates it and starves..can u direct me to any example home made food for both open to talk to someone I need to save my love bug he is 12

    June 6, 2020 at 1:59 am
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  • Cathy Ashwood Reply

    I’m on the other side of the world to you, but thought I’d ask a question anyway. My dog has just been diagnosed with diabetes and it is suspected that she has Cushing’s although nothing is confirmed. I have always fed a raw and partly cooked diet with a variety of good quality meats and vegetables, probiotics and supplements – although the supplementation has not be an everyday thing. All the information available seems to hinge on people transitioning their dog to raw food after diagnosis, rather than continuing so I am struggling for information on what best to add – or leave out. Do you have any recommendations for someone in my position? Also, is it possible that some deficiency has lead to her current situation? She’s 11 and a little Bichon. Thanks in advance for any advice you have to offer.

    May 17, 2021 at 7:46 pm
    • Michael Reply

      Your comment is old, but I’ll leave this here for anyone else to see.

      It’s not your fault. Illnesses happen even when we provide the best care for our pets. It is, as yet, unknown why this disease, which is rare in humans has become so common in our dogs. I’ve been pouring over Cushing’s research and everything I’ve gathered comes down to this:

      Give a low-carb, whole food diet consisting of lean meat and partially cooked vegetables. The diet does not have to be raw. You can give them a raw or cooked diet. Regardless, dogs digest fiber poorly, so you want veggies at least partially cooked, though the occasional raw veggie treat is fine The low-carb aspect of the diet is to reduce insulin, and thereby cortisol, as the two are complexly intertwined. You may need to also watch the purine richness of foods given, as Cushing’s can affect the liver, and lower purine is better for the liver. Purine content can be confusing, so look up which foods are and aren’t rich in purine content, because it varies wildly

      Supplements such as melatonin and lignan have shown success in aiding Cushing’s recovery. Adding probiotics to the diet may help the absorption of these supplements. Some studies have found that HMR lignan, specifically from the Norwegian spruce knot, are superior.

      Alternative treatments such as the TCM Si Miao San have been successful for some. Si Miao San reduces inflammation and regulates insulin levels, which again are intertwined with cortisol. Gingko biloba can slow adrenal hormone release, so it is often combined with the Si Miao San. Acupuncture has also shown positive effects at regulating endocrine systems and controlling inflammation of Cushing’s dogs. Ideally you’ll want to reach out to a trained holistic veterinarian or TCVM practitioner for help with these lines of treatment.

      Above I’ve simply outlined the treatments available outside of traditional pharmaceutical medications that a vet may prescribe. It’s essential that you work with your vet to determine a treatment plan for your pet that may involve the above options, as well as traditional pharmaceuticals. You should also be mindful to have your pet’s ACTH levels checked regularly, as the success of any of these treatments may mean that you will need to lower the dosage of any medication your vet prescribed or even eliminate it outright. Finally, remember that with the exception of adrenal based Cushing’s, where tumors could possibly be removed through surgery, there is no cure for Cushing’s disease. If you find that the treatment plan you and your vet implement eliminates your dog’s Cushing’s, then you must contribute for the life of your pet in order to prevent remission.

      July 24, 2023 at 1:10 am
      • Julie Reply

        Great post- very informative! Newly diagnosed Cushings with my Aussie- devastated but will do any and everything to prolong her life- 8 now- one bit of pancreatitis- set off my me giving her fresh butcher bones- so stupid! Lots and lots to learn!

        September 3, 2023 at 7:57 pm

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