Addison’s Disease in Dogs

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Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Addison’s disease, also called Hypo-Adrenocorticism, is a very serious disease that affects dogs (though humans can also suffer from this condition). Fortunately the condition can be treated, but it is important to know the symptoms and risks of the disease, and which dog breeds are more likely to develop it.

What is Addison’s Disease?

Addison’s Disease is also known as Hypo-Adrenocorticism, which is a more descriptive name for the condition. Dogs affected with this disease do not produce enough corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids are a type of hormone produced by the dog’s adrenal glands. These hormones are very important for keeping a dog healthy, and the list of all their functions is very long. The most basic groups are Glucocorticoids and Mineralocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are very important for increasing the dog’s appetite, and are involved in processing carbohydrates (glucose) in the body.  Mineralocorticoids are essential for the dog’s electrolyte balance, and to regulate blood volume.

A dog suffering from Addison’s disease will not produce enough or any corticosteroids. As a result, the dog’s body will be unable to function properly, which can lead to health complications or even death.

What causes Addison’s Disease in Dogs?

The cause of Addison’s Disease is not confirmed, though researchers suspect that it is an autoimmune condition. This means that the dog’s own immune system, which is meant to protect the dog from disease, begins to attack the dog’s body instead.

Addison’s disease could be caused by the destruction or damage of the adrenal gland, which produces corticosteroids, or a drug that inhibits the enzymes of the adrenal gland. If these enzymes are inhibited, the body cannot create hormones properly.

One unfortunate way that a dog can develop Addison’s disease is indirectly through the treatment of Cushing’s syndrome. If a dog is artificially given many corticosteroids, then eventually the dog’s body will stop producing its own corticosteroids.

What are the Symptoms of Addison’s Disease?

Addison’s Disease is somewhat difficult to diagnose. The initial symptoms are very vague: the dog may seem a little slow or tired, maybe with a smaller appetite than normal. It is very easy to miss these symptoms. Some veterinarians call Addison’s Disease “the great pretender” because it mimics so many other conditions; for example, a few of the symptoms mimic signs of kidney failure.

Other common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of body condition, decreasing appetite, and being unable to respond properly to stress. Some dogs also have increased thirst and increased urination. The dog will usually seem cold but won’t even shiver.

How is the Diagnosis made?

As Addison’s disease is so hard to spot, dogs are often only diagnosed once they reach crisis point. The dog may collapse or appear to be in shock. They are usually in very poor body condition, and generally listless or dull. Your veterinarian should perform blood tests and ideally a urine test too.

The blood test will show low levels of Sodium, and high levels of Potassium and urea. The dog’s urine will probably be very dilute. In a sick dog, the dog’s white blood cells show a characteristic pattern called a stress leukogram.   Interestingly, since a dog with Addison’s disease cannot produce stress hormones properly, this stress leukogram will not be present, which can help the vet make the right diagnosis.

To confirm a diagnosis of Addison’s Disease, your veterinarian will need to perform an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test. This test involves giving the dog a synthetic form of ACTH. The vet will check the concentration of cortisol before and after giving ACTH, to check whether the dog’s adrenal glands are working.

What’s the Treatment?

If left untreated, Addison’s Disease can have deadly consequences for your dog. Luckily this disease can be treated with steroids. The deadly symptoms can be reversed very quickly, but your dog will probably need medicine for the rest of their life.

The usual medication is a monthly injection and daily tablets. Your vet may also wish to perform blood tests once or twice a year, to make sure that everything is all right.

What’s the outlook for my dog?

With treatment, a dog with this condition can go on to live a happy, healthy life. It is important to go for annual check-ups at the vet, and to give the dog the medicine as instructed by your vet. Remember that your dog cannot produce stress hormones(cortisol) to respond to stress , so try to avoid stressing your dog

What dogs/dog breeds are prone to this condition?

Unfortunately, just about all dogs can develop this condition. That said, certain breeds of dog seem to be predisposed to developing Addison’s Disease:

Addison’s Disease often occurs in young to middle-aged female dogs, often around four years of age.


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The following is needed to bring a puppy into Dubai:


  1. All dogs entering Dubai from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Dubai must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Dubai must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Dubai specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Dubai must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Dubai must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Dubai.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Abu Dhabi:


  1. All dogs entering Abu Dhabi from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Abu Dhabi must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Abu Dhabi specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Abu Dhabi must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Abu Dhabi.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Hong Kong:


  1. All dogs entering Hong Kong must be at least 3 months old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Hong Kong must be equipped with either a 9 or 15-digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Hong Kong must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Valid for up to 6 months.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Hong Kong specific vaccinations: Canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus and rabies.
  5. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Hong Kong.
  6. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.
  7. Captain’s Affidavit – Document to be provided by the airline personnel confirming that your dog has not left its crate or interacted with other pets at any point during the journey.


* Hong Kong classifies countries into 3 groups. Vaccinations against rabies are only required from Groups 2 & 3.
  • Group 1: Rabies-free countries (at least 6 months of residency) Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Bailiwick of Jersey.
  • Group 2: Rabies-controlled (at least 4 months of residency) Austria, Bahrain, Bermuda, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Guam, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Bahamas, Belgium, Brunei, Cayman Island, Denmark, France, Gibraltar, Iceland, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands, USA (Continental), Virgin Islands.
  • Group 3: All other countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Switzerland:


  1. All pets entering Switzerland must be equipped with a 15-digit microchip that is compliant with ISO 11784/11785.
  2. Dogs must be vaccinated against distemper.
  3. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory. Dogs must receive their first rabies vaccine at least 21 days before entering the country.*
  4. The state veterinarian of the origin country must equip the dog with a valid Health Certificate.
  5. Import Permit – all dogs entering from a 3rd level rabies country must carry an import permit issued at least three weeks in advance. Entry points through Basel, Geneva, Zurich.
  6. Different regulations depending on whether it is a commercial purchase or individual and where the dog is coming from.


* Specifications differ for booster shots. ** Switzerland categorises countries by level of risk of rabies in three levels.
  • Level 1: All EU Member States and Andorra, Switzerland, Faeroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino, Vatican City State.
  • Level 2 (Low Risk of Rabies): Ascension Island, United Arab Emirates, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Aruba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Barbados, Bahrain, Bermuda,Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Curaçao, Fiji, Falkland Islands, Great Britain (including Crown dependencies), Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Saint Lucia, North Macedonia, Montserrat, Mauritius, Mexico, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Russia, Singapore, Saint Helena, Sint Marteen, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, United States of America, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
  • Level 3: All other countries are considered as having a high risk of rabies.
Travel Requirements