A tumor of one or both adrenal glands in canines causes an overproduction of cortisone and other hormones. This, in turn, leads to symptoms like increased thirst and appetite; increased urine; abdominal distention; increased panting; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; listlessness; hair loss; and dry, scaly or wrinkled skin, according to Cheyanne West, a homeopathic consultant and author of “Treating Cushing’s Disease With Homeopathy and Other Alternative Therapies.”
Cushing’s disease or hyperadrenocorticism results from an adrenal tumor in about 10 to 15 percent of cases. Even though tumors “are almost always nonmalignant,” West claims “they wreak havoc nonetheless.” Once Cushing’s has begun, most dogs live only a couple of years, even with mainstream treatment. This treatment can involve surgically removing the tumor from the adrenal gland (if the other gland is functioning) followed by drug treatments to inhibit the overproduction of hormones, West says. “The drugs don’t correct the underlying problem, since the drug choices don’t shrink the tumors or keep them from growing.”
Managing Symptoms Homeopathically
Homeopathic and herbal therapies can be used to help maintain a quality of life for a dog with an adrenal-gland tumor. These alternative treatments are limited to supporting the organs and systems subjected to additional stress caused by the disease, says veterinary herbalism specialist Gregory Tilford. He is the co-author of “All You Ever Wanted to Know About Herbs for Pets” with holistic animal care consultant Mary L. Wulff-Tilford. “Dandelion root, burdock, garlic and nettle are good choices for supporting an overtaxed liver and digestive system and to help replace potassium that is lost as a result of increased urination,” according to the Tilfords.
Herbs like Siberian ginseng and astragulus buffer adrenal responses to stress, while sea kelp can be especially useful for maintaining iodine and other trace minerals essential for proper adrenal function. Avoid licorice, borage leaf and other herbs that stimulate adrenal activity if your dog has Cushing’s Disease, and provide a solid foundation of excellent nutrition.
Since adrenal tumors and Cushing’s are indicative of multiple problems and symptoms can change rapidly, treatment is complex and requires the expertise of a homeopathically trained veterinarian who can create a treatment plan that is specific to your dog’s needs.