Addison's disease (the common name for hypoadrenocorticism) is caused by a decreased production of two hormones from the adrenal gland. These hormones are cortisol, a stress hormone, and aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid hormone that regulates the body's water balance through its effects on sodium and potassium.
Hypoadrenocorticism, also known as Addison’s disease, is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough glucocorticoids (steroids) to allow normal body function. This condition is considered rare in cats, but numerous cases have been reported. Affected cats often have a history of waxing and waning periods of lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Long-term, cats with hypoadrenocorticism require medications to supplement the substances released from the adrenal glands.
Lipomas are benign tumors of fat seen in middle-aged to older animals. Sometimes these tumors grow in between muscle layers are called infiltrative lipomas. Lipomas are benign and do not typically behave aggressively. Liposarcomas are the malignant form of the disease. These tumors are usually diagnosed by a fine needle aspiration, though biopsy or advanced diagnostic imaging may be required before surgery. Surgery is the best course of action for pets with lipomas and fat-based tumors.
The adrenal glands are responsible for hormone production. Overproduction of these hormones typically manifests as Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism). Typically, these tumors are benign in nature and can be treated medically, though malignant tumors (e.g., carcinomas/adenocarcinomas) are possible. In these cases, surgical excision is generally required. The prognosis for patients with adrenal tumors is generally good if surgical removal is complete.
The adrenal medulla is responsible for producing hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. Dysregulated replication of the chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla lead to development of a pheochromocytoma. These tumors produce excess hormone that leads to episodes of hypertension and tachycardia. Early detection via abdominal ultrasound is imperative for surgical success. CT scan prior to surgery is recommended as these tumors have the potential for vascular invasion leading to post-operative complications. Staging is recommended given that approximately 40% of patients will have evidence of spread at time of diagnosis.
Albuterol sulfate is a bronchodilator, used off label, to treat asthma and cough related to bronchoconstriction. It is administered as an inhalant in cats and by mouth, as a tablet, in dogs. The most common side effects include nervousness, shaking, fast heartbeat, and dizziness. Use with caution in pets with diabetes, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, seizures, heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, or pregnancy. If a negative reaction occurs, call your veterinary office.
One of the most common medical conditions affecting cats is allergy. Flea allergy, food allergies, atopy, and contact allergies are examples of allergies in cats, with flea allergy being the most common cause. Flea allergy is a response to proteins or antigens present in the flea's saliva, and just one fleabite may cause such intense itching that the cat may severely scratch or chew itself, leading to the removal of large amounts of hair. Food allergy testing is conducted by feeding an elimination or hypoallergenic diet. If your cat's symptoms improve after the food trial, a presumptive diagnosis of food allergy is made.
Allopurinol (brand names Lopurin®, Zyloprim®) is a drug used to prevent the recurrence of uric acid and calcium oxalate uroliths (stones) in dogs. This medication works by decreasing the production of uric acid in the body. It is also used in the treatment of leishmaniasis in dogs and cats and is usually combined with other drugs. Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.
Alprazolam is a medication given by mouth as a tablet or liquid used off label in cats and dogs to treat anxiety and phobias. Common side effects include sedation, increased appetite, or uncoordinated walking. This medication should not be used in pets with a paradoxical reaction and should be used with caution in debilitated, geriatric, pregnant, lactating pets, or in pets with liver or kidney disease, or glaucoma. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.
Aluminum hydroxide is commonly used off label to treat high phosphate levels in pets with kidney disease. It is given by mouth, with meals, in the form of a liquid gel, powder, or a compounded capsule. The most common side effect is constipation, and therefore should be used in caution with pets with a gastrointestinal obstruction or pets prone to constipation. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.