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Ask Dr. Louis Gotthelf Your Own Question
Dr. Louis Gotthelf
Dr. Louis Gotthelf, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2438
Experience:  35 years as a small animal veterinarian in a clinical practice and a skin and ear clinic
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How exactly does Cushings cause lameness

This answer was rated:

How exactly does Cushing's cause lameness?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

Cushing's disease does not cause lameness, but in advanced stages, it will result in profound weakness.

Customer :

some sources list shifting lameness as one of the symptoms ... would that be just lameness from the muscle weakness then?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

Probably. Cushing's causes increased secretion of cortisol. Too much cortisol in the blood weakens the collagen fibers that are in all muscles, ligaments and tendons. The skin sags and the belly gets rotund.

Customer :

e.g. in here http://www.suite101.com/content/cushings-disease-in-dog-a27376

Customer :

too much cortisol messes with collagen fibers?

Customer :

I see

Customer :

so that's very interesting, the cortisol - collagen connection

Customer :

how does it do that?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

That's only one of the things that the excess cortisol does. It also messes up glucose metabolism, sodium and potassium balance, kidney function, blood pressure changes, etc. It is not a fun disease to have and it is often hard to manage over a long period of time. It is actually caused by a small pituitary gland tumor in the brain.

Customer :

yes, it's a nasty one

Customer :

could is also cause repeated muscle injuries/sore muscles? (particular ones)

Customer :

or, asked differently, what else could mess with collagen and have similar related symptoms?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

There are many diseases that can affect collagen. Any disease that interferes with the blood supply to muscles, tendons, or ligaments cause stretching of collagen. Many hormonal conditions also affect collagen, especially the female hormones.

Customer :

any list of such conditions?

Customer :

would hypothyroid to that even though within normal range 20 (13-51 normal)

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

Almost every disease affects collagen in some way because it is found in almost every tissue in the body. I don't think that there would be a list of diseases affecting collagen that would be of reasonable length.

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

Is there something specific you are looking for?

Customer :

seems that many believe that large breed dogs should have their levels somewhere mid normal at least

Customer :

I see

Customer :

we are struggling with repeated muscle injuries and sore muscles, skin infections, funny hair quality, soft nails, (both ACLs went in the past), unexplained pacing/panting episodes ...

Customer :

but nothing is 'really' pointing to adrenals

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

That thyroid level seems normal. I don't worry about normal thyroids. What I worry about is low thyroids accurately reflecting the thyroid function. In other words, is a low thyroid really a thyroid problem or is it low for some other reason.

Customer :

drinking/urinating normal, good energy level (full of P and V) ...

Customer :

low thyroid you mean pituitary or auto immune or something else also?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

For the symptoms you are describing, the way to help diagnose problems is by biopsy. If there are repeated muscle injury, then a muscle biopsy may show why.

Customer :

muscle biopsy would show why? cool

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

Low thyroid in the dog is almost always the result of a thyroiditis causing scarring of the thyroid resulting in a small fibrous gland.

Customer :

so that's an autoimmune issue?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

Muscle biopsies will show if there is a problem with the collagen, the muscle fibers, inflammation, parasites, blood vessel problems, etc. If this is a continuous problem, it may be worth a look.

Customer :

she also has IBD

Customer :

parasites in muscles?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

In most cases of hypothyroidism in dogs it is an autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's disease)

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

We see that all the time in the Southeast US.

Customer :

really? wow

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

Parasites, that is.

Customer :

we're South Ontario

Customer :

what kind of parasites get into muscles?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf :

I don't know what muscle parasites if any you may have there. A call to the vet school in Guelph may help you know if that is a possibility.

Customer :

ok, thank you

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