Scout the Jack Russell Terrier came to us one Monday morning feeling less than her usual bouncy self. She had already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which means her thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone and was on medication for this. Recent blood tests confirmed that she was on the correct dose of medication. Scout had not eaten for a couple of days. On examination she had a slightly low temperature and low heart rate but nothing that would indicate why she was so unwell so a blood test was taken.
The blood test showed some minor changes in some of her enzymes and electrolytes but nothing definitive showed up. She came back in to see us the next day as she still hadn't picked up. She seemed very lethargic and her blood pressure was quite low. At this point she wasn't eating at all and it was decided to take some more blood to check her electrolyte levels and to put her on intravenous fluids. It was suspected that she may have an endocrine disease known as Addison's disease or Hypoadrenocorticism, a toxicity or possibly even a foreign body in her bowel.
After a night on intravenous fluids she seemed much happier and was even tempted to eat some chicken. The blood test to recheck her electrolytes showed some interesting abnormalities that indicated that Addison's disease was very likely. A special blood test known as an ACTH stimulation test was done and the results came back the following day confirming that she was indeed Addisonian. Addison's disease is a very serious and potentially fatal disorder of the adrenal glands. One important function of the adrenal glands is to produce mineralocorticoids which help balance the electrolytes in the blood. If these aren't in the right balance it can have very serious consequences and can even lead to heart failure and death. The adrenal glands also produce glucocorticoids such as cortisone which are important in helping dogs deal with stress and illness and maintain there blood pressure.
Scout was started on two types of medication and she responded very well. Thankfully she was diagnosed in time and with the correct medication soon recovered to her old bouncy self. When it was time to come in for a revisit we almost didn't recognise her she was such a different dog. Full of life and wanting to eat every treat that was offered. The owners were so pleased to have back the old Scout again. She comes in for regular blood tests to ensure the medication is at the correct levels and will need to be monitored carefully for the rest of her life but is doing very well.