Addison’s disease in dogs is rare, mostly affecting young and middle-aged dogs. Addison’s disease, known in scientific terms as hypoadrenocorticism, is manifested by a deficiency of the adrenal gland in the production of corticosteroid hormones (cortisol level and aldosterone). Aldosterone deficiency can lead to significant fluid loss, dehydration, or weight loss. The clinical signs are there, but doctors generally misdiagnose it, blaming it on trivial issues.
How Much Does Addison’s Disease in Dogs Treatment Cost?
The treatment for a dog with Addison can cost more than $1,200 for the first vet visit, which will include doctor care, IVs, medication, and blood tests. The costs will depend on the vet’s billing policies and the tests that are performed. Pet owners should be prepared to pay much more when they take their dog to the veterinarian for emergency treatment at a 24/7 vet facility.
The main factor that will influence the cost of Addison’s disease treatment is the severity of the diagnosis. But, as we already mentioned above, in most cases the diagnosis is confirmed when the dog is in a critical health state and must stay in a vet hospital for a few days.
During this period, the doctor will use a combination of cortisol-like medication to regulate the hormone levels and a combination of intravenous therapy for combating dehydration.
The expenses with Addison’s Disease will not stop after the initial treatment because you must continue to administer your dog a medication based on mineralocorticoids for the rest of their life. This is a hormone pill administered orally every day.
Another treatment option would be an injection which, in general, is done every 30 days. Also, your dog may need glucocorticoids, depending on the situation. For example, almost half of dogs with Addison’s Disease need this medication as well.
Besides the medication costs, as a dog owner, you will have to also budget for the vet visits that must be done every 90 days in the first year of treatment. During this time the vet will evaluate the dog’s progress and its kidney function. Expect to spend more than $280 per month on bloodwork, medication, and shots. These costs will depend on the dog’s treatment plan, the weight of the dog, the prescribed medication, and where you buy it from.
In the table below you will find the average costs for the medication needed in treating a dog with Addison’s disease.
|Type of Medication||Average Cost|
|Prednisone||$0.35-$0.55 per 1-20 mg tablet|
|Florinef||$0.85 per 0.1 mg tablet|
|Percorten-V||$220 per 25 mg/ 4 ml vial|
|Fludrocortisone||$1.15 per 0.1 mg tablet|
|Prednisolone||$0.25 per 5 mg tablet|
Note: These costs are available only for the medication itself and do not include the extra medication/tests, vet visits, and extra lab work. The recommended dosage is 0.1 milligrams per 10 pounds.
According to a member of the Dog Health Guide online forum, the monthly costs for treating a Basset Hound with Addison’s disease are around $340. These would include the occasional kidney function tests, the injection, electrolyte monitoring, and prednisone.
What is Addison’s disease in dogs?
Addison’s disease is an endocrine disorder that occurs when a dog’s body stops producing essential steroid hormones (adrenocorticotrophin – ACTH). ACTH is responsible for maintaining adequate levels of blood sugar, supporting cardiac function, and maintaining normal parameters of sodium and potassium levels in the body.
This disease can be diagnosed in most dog breeds, especially standard Poodle dogs, Portuguese water dogs, Collie, or Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever.
Addison’s disease is not contagious or infectious, so there is no need to worry if the sick pet also comes into contact with other animals or people.
Signs and symptoms of Addison’s disease in dogs
Addison’s disease can be difficult to detect by symptoms alone.
Most commonly, Addison’s disease is diagnosed as an accidental discovery when annual blood tests are performed and the veterinarian finds an electrolyte imbalance. The veterinarian may become suspicious if your canine friend shows symptoms of lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Atypical Addison’s is a type of Addison’s disease that can occur in dogs that don’t follow the classic presentation. It is called atypical because electrolyte levels like sodium and potassium don’t plummet as severely as typical Addison’s, making diagnosis tricky.
It can be triggered by trauma, stress, or another illness that impairs adrenal function. Symptoms like lethargy, nausea, and weakness may come and go, complicating diagnosis. In this case, dogs have a deficiency of one hormone (glucocorticoid or mineralocorticoids) rather than both as in typical Addison’s disease.
Veterinary treatment for Addison’s disease in dogs
In an Addisonian crisis, treatment focuses on aggressive intravenous fluid therapy and injectable medication. It may also be necessary to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and/or abnormal heart rhythm. Most dogs respond quickly to treatment and tend to recover completely.
The most important part of Addison’s disease treatment is mineralocorticoid replacement (such as aldosterone, which is a hormone). This can be done by taking oral medication (fludrocortisone) twice a day or with an injection of DOCP (deoxycorticosterone pivalate) approximately every 25-30 days. Depending on the diagnosis of your pet, you will be able to establish a treatment plan with the veterinarian.
If fludrocortisone is prescribed to the dog, it has both glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid activity. In contrast, dogs administered injectable DOCP require additional glucocorticoids (such as oral prednisone), as it only has mineralocorticoid activity.
Electrolyte blood tests and ACTH stimulation tests are usually performed at various intervals after starting therapy, usually on day 10, day 30, and day 90. Mineralocorticoid medication is usually adjusted after electrolyte levels are stable. The levels will be monitored several times a year to ensure it is the correct level for the dog.
If your dog is diagnosed with Addison’s disease after enrolling in pet insurance, the plan will generally cover costs related to treatment. This includes medications, vet visits, and testing.
If your dog had Addison’s prior to signing up for insurance, coverage will be very limited or excluded from treatment since it is classified as a hereditary pre-existing condition.
For newly diagnosed Addison’s, prescription meds, lab tests, vet checkups, and other care are covered up to your annual limit after meeting your deductible.
Some insurers offer Addison ‘s-specific policies. And rules differ on pre-existing coverage. So read all limitations, reimbursements, and excluded conditions carefully.
Getting pet insurance while your dog is still healthy, understanding pre-existing exclusions, and comparing insurer policy terms are key to getting the most coverage.
How can I save money?
As the dog will need treatment for the rest of its life, a more economical treatment option would be the injections with Percoten-V. You can learn to administer the injection on your own and save some money.
The AddisonDogs website recommends finding a local compounding pharmacy that is able to create a liquid, chew, or capsule according to the vet’s indications. In general, the costs for the medication made in such a pharmacy are much lower than the name brands.
According to dog owners, you may be able to save more than 50% if you choose to buy the medication from a Canadian pharmacy. If you have a prescription from the vet, you can scan it and send it to them and they will deliver your order.
Is there a test to detect Addison’s disease in dogs?
The ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) stimulation test is usually the test of choice to rule out Addison’s disease. The blood samples are sent to a laboratory and the results are returned to the veterinary office.
Can Addison’s disease in dogs disappear?
No, Addison’s disease does not go away on its own. Medicines are needed to stabilize dogs diagnosed with this condition.
How long can dogs with Addison’s disease live?
If diagnosed and treated with appropriate medication, a dog can live a lifetime with Addison’s disease. If an Addisonian crisis occurs and is left untreated, it can be fatal.
What triggers Addison’s disease in dogs?
In most cases, the cause of Addison’s disease in dogs is unknown. It is considered a primary autoimmune disease, but it can also appear secondary to certain medications, infections, trauma, or cancers of the adrenal glands.