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Young dog with Addison’s disease. Will treatments eventually harm him? Alternatives?

At 1 year and 2 months my West Highland Terrier was diagnosed with Addison’s disease. He’s taking 1/2mg of prednisone every day and gets Percoten V shots every 28 days. My vet says that there are really no significant side effects of to these drugs. I guess my question is: My dog is fairly young and he’s going to be having treatment all his life. Is there a chance that the medications will eventually harm him, his kidneys, for example? Are there alternative treatments of Addison’s that do not require any of these drugs?

Thank You


6 Responses to “Young dog with Addison’s disease. Will treatments eventually harm him? Alternatives?”

  1. Joy N. Ritz, DVM - Indianapolis, IN says:

    There are side effects to every drug, especially the prednisone as it is a steroid. However, the benefits likely outweigh the risks in your dog’s case. Liver toxicity, joint damage, and weakening of the abdominal muscles are all possible, but compared to possible death from the Addison’s, these are more acceptable! Your dog is likely going to need periodic blood tests to monitor the Addison’s, so you can have your vet check the liver values at the same time.

    Unfortunately, there are few medications for this disease, and your dog is already on 2 of them. It is a shame that this happened so early on in life for your dog.

    Hopefully, you can find a balance that will work for you both,

    Joy N. Ritz, DVM
    Decatur Veterinary Clinic
    Indianapolis, IN

  2. Elizabeth F. Baird, DVM - Palm Harbor, FL says:

    Addison’s disease is very dangerous and used to kill both people and animals. The only alternatives to Percorten injections are a daily oral medication called Florinef. Unfortunately, missing even 1 or 2 doses can lead to a life threatening Addisonian crisis. In my 20 plus years of practice, I must say the dogs do great with Percorten injections and seem much better regulated than when we only had Florinef to treat them.
    The Pred orally can have some long term effects, but most Addisonian patients are on it to replace the cortisol they need to survive, that which their own body cannot produce. The very low doses used generally do not have a great impact. The absence of natural cortisol is debilitating and the Pred dose must often be increased in times of stress (boarding, travel, etc).
    In my humble opinion, Percorten and Pred dosed appropriately are the best treatment for Addison’s disease. The Westie is predisposed to this disease, but I have seen many do wonderfully with treatment. President Kennedy had Addison’s disease too!

    I hope this info helps and wish you and your Westie the best!!

    Elizabeth F. Baird, DVM
    Country Oaks Animal Hospital
    Palm Harbor, FL

  3. Dr. Tammy Evans, Cocoa, FL says:

    The injection he gets monthly is only a replacement of what his adrenal glands are not producing. The prednisone should be a very low (physiologic) dose similar to what his body would also produce on a regular basis. There should be minimal concern of treating him as far as potential negative side effects. The biggest concern is that during times of stress talk to your veterinarian about increasing the dose of prednisone.

    Dr. Tammy Evans
    Tammy R. Evans, DVM
    Caring For Life, Inc.
    Cocoa, FL

  4. Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM NY says:

    You ask if these medications will harm your dog in the long term–it is important to remember that without these medications, your dog will not HAVE a “long term,” since the deficiency of these hormones is lethal. Try to keep in mind that you are not so much giving him drugs but rather providing necessary things his body cannot make for himself. I do not know of any effective substitutes for these medications, but many owners of Addisonian dogs can slowly taper the prednisone dose down to very low levels–be careful, for prednisone is one of the things that helps the body cope with stresses and without it he can be more susceptible to other problems. I am a veterinarian whose sister has an Addisonian dog that I treat. She has found a website for owners of dogs with Addison’s Disease to be helpfully supportive. Check out

    Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM
    Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM
    Lancaster, NY

  5. Doc Bob - Laurel, MD says:

    Ask your vet about trying FLUORINEF Tabs……….

    Doc Bob North Laurel Animal Hospital MD

  6. Philip McHugh, DVM, NC says:


    Bad disease, sorry

    Philip McHugh, DVM
    Park Veterinary Hospital
    Durham, NC

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