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Signs Your Dog Is Having an Addisonian Crisis

 by petbucket on 22 May 2015 |
29 Comment(s)
An Addisonian crisis is the result of undiagnosed Addison's disease in dogs. If your dog does not get immediate medical attention, she could die from multiple organ failure. The hardest part about Addison's disease is knowing your pet has it. Signs are subtle, and it takes an attentive dog owner to see the changes. Once diagnosed, Addison's disease is easily managed at a reasonable cost. Here are some tell-tale signs that your dog could be having an Addisonian crisis.
What is Addison's Disease?
Addison's disease is a genetic disorder where your dog's adrenal glands no longer produce the hormones necessary to deal with stress. The disease mostly affects female dogs, and it does not present symptoms until about the age of five.
Taking long walks, new dogs in the house, people moving in and out and a change of environment are all triggers for your dog's stress. Normally, your dog's adrenal glands excrete glucocorticoids to deal with the stress. In addition to glucocorticoids, the adrenal glands also release mineralocorticoids to balance electrolytes.  When these steroids aren't excreted during stress, your dog is unable to handle it, electrolytes become imbalanced, and your dog's heart and kidneys cease to function. The result is a tragedy, but you can avoid it by rushing your dog to an emergency vet who can stabilize your pet.
Signs of a Crisis
To identify symptoms, you must know your dog's behavior. Even veterinarians tell you that Addison's disease is an extremely difficult disorder to diagnose unless the vet knows to take blood work. First, your dog will probably be more lethargic. If your dog normally follows you around the house, she will probably stop and lay there as you move around.
Next, your dog will lose its appetite and show signs of anorexia. She might try to eat, but as soon as she eats, she will vomit it up.  Diarrhea is also a problem. Between the diarrhea and vomiting, the dog becomes dangerously dehydrated.
If you sleep with your dog, another noticeable sign is the shakes. The dog will shake as if she's cold or sick. She might try to sleep close to you for warmth, but she shakes and wakes you up.
What might throw dog owners off is that the dog will still drink water regularly. She will even walk regularly. Although, when she walks she won't want to go far distances and might even sit down. Your dog's behavior will be overall lethargic regardless of the activity.
If any of these symptoms are present with your dog, it's imperative that you immediately take the dog to a vet. If it's night time, find an emergency vet in your area. Dogs going through an Addisonian crisis will collapse fast, so it's important to act quickly.
Treating Addison's Disease
If you get your dog to the vet quickly, the vet will give the dog fluids, medication and stabilize her. Depending on how critical the condition, the dog could have sodium and potassium imbalances, a heart murmur and malfunctioning kidneys.
After your dog is stabilized, you can usually take her home after a couple of days. Your dog will be dependent on two medications: Prednisone and Percorten. Your dog will take daily doses of Prednisone. The dosage is determined by your vet. Percorten shots are given every month. Percorten is the more expensive treatment, but you can buy the bottle for about $200 and have the vet give your dog a shot for about $10 each visit. The Percorten bottle will last several months for a small dog. Prednisone is much cheaper. The Prednisone bottle costs about $15 each month.
A small dog will only need about 1.5mg of Prednisone each day. However, you'll need to double that dosage when you anticipate stressful times for the dog. For instance, if you take the dog to the vet, travel with her, introduce a new dog or have visitors, you need to double her dosage.
Prognosis for a treated dog with Addison's disease is very promising. As long as you get the dog to the vet during crisis symptoms, your dog will recover. Knowing your dog is key to identifying any further episodes, but with proper medication and treatment, your dog will live a long, happy life.


Christine Martin - Comment
Christine Martin31 May 2015Reply
Hi, I was lucky my Vet suspected Addison's my dog a male lived for another 5 years he was 6 years old when we found out.

I Australia it is very much cheaper to get the VET to write a prescription for the tablets and get it from the chemist.
julie uchtmann - Comment
julie uchtmann25 Jul 2017Reply
My 2 year old Dachshund was just diagnosed this past week. By the time the hospital made this discovery,( we went through an Ortho and Neuro Surgeon) she was in crisis She spent 3 days in ICU and was sent home stable. Within 16 hours she had started shaking again, and was losing control of her back legs. I took her back to the hospital and they checked her labs, which had improved and I picked her up later that day. After only been home a couple of hours, her back end started swaying again, and she just didn't look well. I don't know what to do! She is on 5 different meds and i have already spent $5k. Why isnt she getting better? Does this take time, i.e weeks. I'm at a total loss as to what my next steps should be.
Anna - Comment
Anna01 Oct 2017Reply
I had a Chihuahua/ Jack Russell he was on 4 yrs old & stopped eating, barking,every thing but drinking. Then we went to bed & woke up and he could no longer walk or sit up. I took it to my vet. Who kept him over night and still didn't respond to the meds. She advised me that my dog was very sick and even if he was on all the proper meds he could still relapse. I seen how sick my dog was and as much as it killed me I had to put him to sleep. I cry & miss him every minute as he was my side kick. But I couldn't let him suffer. Even he knew how sick he was. I pray for you all and your furbabies. But please don't let them suffer. And this disease can run into a very expensive illness. Please put your animal ahead of your own feelings. They feel miserable too. Hugs to all.
Kat - Comment
Kat06 Dec 2017Reply
Addison's is a sad disease and it's imperative that you tune into your animal friend. I have had the lovely opportunity of knowing a beautiful German Short-haired pointer who was diagnosed around 2 or 3 with Addison's. Her human parent passed away and their son, my BF, adopted her at 8 1/2 years old and she very quickly she slipped into a very grave Addisonian crisis episode. She survived and over the last 5 years I have helped care for her and came to love her as my own. Amazingly she lived to 13.5 and finally we had to put her down a few days ago. My advise is to learn and understand everything about their behavior and this disease, so as to avoid losing them before their time is up. Zoey lived a good life in spite of it all. She will be missed.
Debbie Lockyer  - Comment
Debbie Lockyer 04 Jan 2018Reply
A very sad disease and very hard to reckonise, tonight I have had to put my 4year old pomapoo to sleep as she was so poorly.
AMY - Comment
AMY21 Feb 2018Reply
My German Short haired pointer Grand Dog is 5 and a month and half ago he went into Addison crisis, he was barely alive by the time we got him to the Emergency clinic. I'm happy to say he pulled through but he has lost a lot of weight he doesn't eat he doesn't want to drink water and the vet is not helping us cope with this is it normal?
Kelly - Comment
Kelly24 Feb 2018Reply
My sweet boy , Scottie is in the ER at the vet in a crisis as we speak!!! He was lethargic, weak, vomiting, dehydrated. I called the vet and took right away. As he lay on the exam table they and.did a.stool sample, a few.minutes later as my husband is holding him, he thought our boy had diarreaha bit as he looked it was pure bright red blood! They admitted him right away but told us he may not! He had his percorten shot yesterday and today hes in a crisis. Im so heartbroken. This boy is just like my child. Anyone else gone through this and have your dog actually pull through??!!
Veronica - Comment
Veronica27 Feb 2018Reply
My standard poodle, was diagnosed with Addison diease, she is only 13mos old, she seemed fine, all of a sudden, she start laying around, shaking, then she stopped eating. The vet took blood and temp, temp low, blood work came back abmormal. He said then it looks like Addison diease. She stayed overnight, given fluids, and steroids, and started eating a little. She's home now, she have been put on a shot once a month, sent home with steroids by month. Antibiotics. Her energy have picked up a little more, I hope everyone be ok . I think God she was caught early. It was no diarrhea, no vomiting, I'm nervous about leaving her alone. Keep looking up.
Maria - Comment
Maria04 Mar 2018Reply
My puppy a havapoo started to vomit on a Friday then I noticed he did eat or drink that Saturday. Took him to the vet and he said he had a virus. Sunday he still wasn’t eating and only drinking if I forced him Monday I took him back to the vet saw a different one she Suspected Addison disease but had to sent him to the hospital They didn’t think it was that told us it didn’t look good he was in kidney failure thank God my vet was in contact with them and demanded that they ran test for Addison. Overnight stay at hospital put on iv which corrected the kidney failure. Went to my vet and he’s was out on Prednisones at this time doesn’t need the shots. That was about three weeks ago still concerned as he his not quite the same puppy as before. He is eating and drinking but not as playful as before he doesn’t play with his toys hasn’t greeted us like in the past yesterday we had a bad storm with lots of wind and rain notice that he was shaking a lot and he throw up I had just started to decrease his med so I went back to dosage before. I am always looking up about this disease. So worried that it might happen again. Puppy will be two this month.
Cindy  - Comment
Cindy 11 Mar 2018Reply
My 17.5 year old Bostion Terrier, we know had Addison Disease. Based off of her symptoms and chemisty work up. After reading all the post here and how much she could endure with this disease. We made the decision to put her to sleep. It has been so hard, I hurt every minute since we did it on yesterday, but we could not have her suffer any longer. She spend one night in the ER and the next monring we decided to let her go to doggy heaven. Its been so hard. This disease will turn your loved four legged furry child into someone you do not know. Good luck to all who is having to deal with this dreaded disease. God Bless!
Marcus Spiller - Comment
Marcus Spiller16 Mar 2018Reply
We had a 5-year old Maltese and I noticed Tuesday that he wasn’t himself, very lethargic, no appetite, shakes, diarrhea and vomiting. Called the Vet Wednesday morning and they advised to feed him some chicken breast and broth. He ate very little, but dranked water. Was planning to take him to visit the vet if wasn’t better Thursday morning, but he passed Wednesday night. Emergency ER stabilized him for a little, but then he succumbed.. Devastated!!
Patty Smith  - Comment
Patty Smith 14 Apr 2018Reply
Our standard poodle was diagnosed several years ago. He was stabilized and put on florinef pills, which he is still on. 3 in the am and 3 at pm. He is presently 5yo and doing great. Don't give up. We get blood drawn once a year, or anytime we feel there may be a problem. So far so good, I won't change to the injections d/t the problems I read about.
Jennifer Donini  - Comment
Jennifer Donini 05 May 2018Reply
My 4 yr old pit was diagnosed yesterday with Addison’s. I just brought him home and he is still acting very lethargic and not himself. I have a feeling I’m going to be worried a lot. It sounds like a lot of varying stories about the long term.
Dana Forrest - Comment
Dana Forrest14 May 2018Reply
I just lost my 3 year old pug, Charlie, to Addisons yesterday morning. My heart hurts. The crisis. was acute and came on so fast. He started with vomiting on Wednesday, we took him to the vet, assumed some type of stomach bug. Thursday was diarhea with blood so we were back at the vet who put him on stronger meds. By Thirsday.afternoon he went into full crisis, we went to the ER,. he was in shock, got a.secondary sepsis infection,. and eventually died 2 days (and $9k) later due to a blood clot rhe sepsis (they think). The only comfort I have is the my family was their.visiting said it was really quick. She was petting him. and then his heart just stopped. As I learn more about this.terrible disease, I realised the ER docs were not really completely forthcoming. The said it was easy to manage the disease with a daily pill and monthly shot, but everything I read is saying you have to be really in tune with you dog and watch for symptoms. Seems like a life of constant worry. I probably should have put him down sooner and not got my family into this huge debt and potential a life time of future debts had he survived but my heart couldn't let go. For anyone trying to make this decision, do what is right for you, but take the time to do your own research from different sources. And don't feel guilty one way or the other. Whatever decision you make, is the righr decision for you and no one elses business.
Donna - Comment
Donna06 Jun 2018Reply
My son just lost his 6 year old black last night to this disease. No symptoms, he crashed yesterday, they rushed him to the ER vet, they thought they could save him, sadly he coded several times last night and they were unable to bring him back. They are devastated, he was a wonderful dog and will be deeply missed.
Casey Cox - Comment
Casey Cox11 Jun 2018Reply
My 6 old dog went into addisonian crisis on Friday he was in hospital from then and come home today Monday. But he is still weak and not eating. I'm giving fluids and force feeding him chicken. Did anyone have this experience when did your dog start eating themselves? I'm sick with worry that I'm losing him
Viola - Comment
Viola18 Jun 2018Reply
My border terrier was diagnosed with Addison about 5 years ago. After fluorinef was stopped here (UK) she has been on injections if Zycortal every 25 days and daily prednisone tablet. I give her the injections. Once she was stabilised on medication she was absolutely fine with no symptoms. She is now 13.
Misty - Comment
Misty22 Jun 2018Reply
My Great Dane got diagnosed with Addison’s I have never heard of this before!!! It’s a scary feeling to have my boy look so sick and not know how to help him now that he gets his shot monthly he is doing well!!!!! How ever his shot is $200 a month ughhh I just love my big baby I’m willing to go I to Dead Just so he can be with us alittle longer he is only 4 and hope we have more time with him
Jill - Comment
Jill25 Jun 2018Reply
I feel like I need to bring a little more optimism to this conversation. I have a 10.5 yo chihuahua poodle mix who was diagnosed with atypical Addison’s 5 years ago. The diagnosis stage was terrible because it took about a week to figure out, and she almost died during that time. But thankfully she didn’t, and she has been living her best life since then! She gets a pill every day, and I give her a shot at home every month (it’s harder on me than it is on her!) but she is happy and healthy and I couldn’t imagine not having her in my life as a result of this disease.
I am definitely in tune with her moods and I can sense when she needs her shot (if she’s had a stressful month with thunderstorms and vet visits sometimes she gets it a day or two early.) So it’s definitely helpful to know your dog well. And it’s not super cheap, although there is now a generic for Percorten and it’s about $150/vial which can last 6+ months. Learn to give the injection yourself (it can be subcutaneous even if your vet says differently, my first one said intermuscular only which is MUCH harder to do at home, but I did more research and SC has worked just fine) and that will save you a lot of money in the long run. We do a full electrolyte panel each year, but other than that the maintence costs aren’t too bad. So while there are obviously lots of different scenarios, if anyone’s pup was just diagnosed, take heart - lots of dogs live completely normal and wonderful long lives with Addison’s.
Beverley Woodward  - Comment
Beverley Woodward 30 Jun 2018Reply
My dog was diagnosed with Addison’s disease in Nov 2017 , she’s my baby ,she is doing good with the cortisone and shot every 29 days ,her electrolytes took awhile to be okay but she is good ,today she was shaking more than normal but fireworks are going off , I would do anything for her ,not sure who rescued who ????, so should I tell vet about her shaking
Dave - Comment
Dave07 Jul 2018Reply
I have a 8 year old boxer that was diagnosed with Addison when she was 6 months old. She's the best friend I've got !! Over the years theirs been many ups and downs,she's been through 3 vets. If you don't think things are right ,don't think twice about changing. The vet she is going to now is great !! The cost to treat this disease is high , but are friends are worth it!! I hope everyone's pets are doing well,don't give up
Chummy Roo - Comment
Chummy Roo16 Jul 2018Reply
Our almost 5 year old, female, English Springer Spaniel had an Addison’s Crisis exactly a month ago today. My husband and I were out of town and we had hired my son’s friend to come and hang out with our two dogs when my daughter was at work, so they wouldn’t be lonely. I was scheduled to come home a week later than I did, but an lucky I came home when I did. A day and a half later one of our fur babies started acting odd. She wouldn’t come in, she refused her favorite treat, actually turning around and looking into the corner. She had also developed diarrhea, which was diagnosed on the first vet visit, as gastritis. That was 11:00am. By 3:30 I wasn’t really able to rouse her. The vet suggested I take her to the emergency vet. The emergency vet is about 20 minutes away and by the time we go there, she was in a complete coma. Six days later, 9 pounds lighter, she has come home. I worry about her but then remind myself that just last Friday she has completely normal labs (today is Sunday). She had been having vague symptoms for quite sometime that could always be explained away as inconsequential. Now, after the fact, things have fallen into place. Our vet doesn’t allow us to by our own bottle of injectibled, so with the lab and injection, it was almost $400. We love her and as long as she’s not suffering we will do what we need to do to get her treatments. When she first came home, we had her on a diet of boiled chicken and rice, slowly transitioning to her regular food. One thing, we were using “Pill Pockets” and they caused horrible gastric side effects and diarrhea in both dogs. They were handy but not an option for our pups. Good luck.
Diana - Comment
Diana12 Aug 2018Reply
Our 10 year old shipoo was diagnosed with Cushing disease last May but was overdosedfrom Vetoryl after the vet increased dosage. He was in crisis but luckily was given prednisone right away and got better the next day. This week the vet recommended to switch to dexamethasone for 2 weeks so LDDS ca be done to see where his cortisol level at. I gave him .25 mg of dexathemasone yesterday morning and he started vomiting and muscle weakness last night through today. Don't know what to do .... we don't have money to bring him to emergency vet hospital.
Kathryn - Comment
Kathryn17 Aug 2018Reply
I'm wondering if anyone out there has ever had any experience with a false positive ACTH test. My dog was diagnosed with Addison's on New Year's Day of this year, but I'm starting to wonder if perhaps he really doesn't have the disease at all. Sure, maybe I'm just hoping that it's not the case, but I'm really starting to wonder. He is a 26-pound Keeshond-Pomeranian mix -- so, a male dog that is not among the breeds that are typically affected. He had a severe loss of appetite for about 6 days, followed by shaking on the sixth day, which is when he was diagnosed. He had none of the other symptoms. His electrolytes tested as completely normal last month, but he was on 2.5mg of Prednisone daily, plus Percortin (until we could no longer get it) and now Fludrocortisone, instead. I asked my vet a month ago if we could reduce the Prednisone and she said we could cut back to 2.5mg every other day instead of daily, provided we kept a close eye on him. It's been about 5 weeks and I see no difference in his behavior, eating, elimination, etc. Any thoughts?
Jeff - Comment
Jeff26 Aug 2018Reply
Our 11 year old boxer may have addison's disease. We are going to the vet on Monday for the test. She collapsed when a she saw a dog barking at her on one of our walks. She spent 3 days at the vet, and is now home for the weekend. The vet had to order the test, so hopefully it will be in on Monday. She is resting comfortably, and seems ok, but she is very lethargic. She has anemia, which I have read can be a symptom, but didn't notice anyone on here talking about that with their pet. We had shaking episodes with fireworks around the 4th of July this year, which she never had any fear of them before. We are actually hopeful that it is addisons, and not something worse. At least with the addisons, we can give her the medications, and buy her a little more time.
Suzanne  - Comment
Suzanne 30 Aug 2018Reply
My 10 year old Border Collie Lloyd has recently been diagnosed with Addison’s disease. It was an ordeal obtaining the diagnosis as the first vet ran bloods, abdominal ultrasound and still no diagnosis. The second vet did a more thorough abdominal ultrasound and more bloods and diagnosed Addison’s. His symptoms were massive weight loss, panting at night, lethargy and his black nose was turning pink. The first vet had no idea what was wrong but put him on 40 mg of Prednisone. Lloyd started persistent vomiting after a week and I was told to stop the prednisone. I reduced it as I was aware of the risks of suddenly stopping such a high dose. I changed vets had the tests repeated and reduced the prednisone slowly over three months. He is now on 4mg daily and he appears well. He is often tired but he appears to be happy. He only walks short distances but still listens for motorbikes so he can run to the fence and chase them. Trying to avoid any stress in his life and hopefully he will make another few good years. The symptoms first started to show when I had to leave Lloyd in a kennel for a week while I was in hospital.
LaJean  - Comment
LaJean 18 Sep 2018Reply
We have an 8 year old Lab that we have been treating for Addison's for the past three years. The injections that he requires for his weight is more than $300 per month. Has anyone out there found the treatment to be cost prohibitive? I honestly don't know what to do.
Archer  - Comment
Archer 15 Nov 2018Reply
I have a 9 year old Scottie that was diagnosed with Addison’s 3 years ago. He’s doing just fine, although he has gained about 5 pounds. It’s an expensive treatment, I purchase the generic, zycortal bottle for about $300 from the vet and they administer it, it lasts approx 3 to 4 months, he’s 30 pounds. He also takes prednisone daily.
Linda J - Comment
Linda J28 Nov 2018Reply
My dog was diagnosed with Addison's about 5 or 6 years ago. She's a Westie, and she was losing weight rapidly and shaking. Google said it was Addison's, but my vet thought it was cancer. My vet said the labs were normal, but when I googled the things that were off, the ratio of potassium/sodium pointed to Addisons as well as the urinalysis due to a specific gravity that was off. She has lived a very normal life. She is a little lethargic, but that is probably the biggest issue, which is no problem at all, really. I give her a monthly shot of percorten myself, mostly due to the stress that my dog has when we go to the vet, and a daily prednisone pill. I give her .5 mg of prednisone and .4 ml of percorten every 28 days, now zycortal, due to the problems with percorten related to the hurricane in Puerto Rico. The disease is very manageable. I would recommend looking for signs of problems, like shaking or losing weight, and adjust medications accordingly. I buy a supplement from Standard Process called Canine Adrenal Support. I sprinkle a little on her food each morning and it seems to help her with increased energy. Also, I give her a Thorne supplement that is a immune system support. I make her dog food that I use in addition to dry kibble. Just For Dogs makes a great "metabolic support" dog food that is delivered to your house frozen if you don't want to make your own. I would feel terrible if I didn't do everything that I could to help my dog have the best life possible. I feel it's my duty as a dog owner. She's 13 1/2 years old now and going strong.

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