Canine Addison’s disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, is a hormonal disorder caused by a dog’s inability to produce sufficient amounts of the adrenal gland hormones cortisol and aldosterone.

Adrenal glands are very small glands located next to your dog’s kidneys and are responsible for regulating several body functions, in addition to producing cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol, which is also commonly referred to as the stress hormone, is critical in helping your dog’s body adapt to everyday stressors, while aldosterone plays an important role in water and electrolyte regulation.

Addison’s disease can have a variety of causes, the most common of which is due to your dog’s immune system attacking and destroying the adrenal glands directly. The cause for this immune-mediated adrenal gland destruction has yet to be identified in dogs. Addison’s disease can also be caused secondary to medications, toxins, or certain cancers. 



Your veterinarian will start by collecting a detailed history and performing a thorough physical examination. Addison’s disease can present with vague clinical symptoms, and diagnostic testing will be needed to rule out other possible diseases as the cause for your dog’s illness. Additional testing will likely include:


Addison’s disease is treated by replacing your dog’s insufficient levels of adrenal gland hormones. Most commonly, this is achieved with both oral and injectable steroids. Once stabilized, the prognosis is generally good as most dogs respond to therapy very well and go on to live normal, active lives.

Regular follow-up with your veterinarian is necessary to ensure that your dog’s disease is being adequately managed. This is generally achieved through blood and urine testing. Stressful situations, such as travel or kenneling, may require adjustments in your dog’s medications. Be sure to address any anticipated stressors with your veterinarian.