Cushings Diary logo - small Treatment Cost of Cushings

The cost to treat Cushings disease varies depending on the size of the animal being treated and the severity of his or her symptoms. The costs add up quickly so you have to make good judgement calls and pay attention to the changes in your pet and keep your vet informed so that checkups and any medications can be adjusted accordingly.

Here is an estimate of what it would cost for a dog that was first showing signs of Cushings syndrome. Keep in mind that vet prices vary from clinic to clinic.

Treatment cost of Cushings disease

FIRST VISIT:

YOUR VET MIGHT SUGGEST:

General Exam $50
A typical wellness exam, typically required if this is your first visit to that vet.

TSH blood level test $60
A Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test to check for thyroid problems. An inexpensive add-on test called the Total T4 test is usually recommended to be done at the same time as the TSH test (TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to increase production of the T4 hormone). Dogs that have thyroid issues will usually score lower on their T4 blood test. Getting both of these tests done at the same time will help give the vet a better picture of what's going on especially if hypothyroidism is suspected.

Total Body Function blood test $130
This is a complete blood test that will be of great help in pinpointing any issues going on. It will give the specific blood test results listed next to the normal ranges for easy reference. Everthing from total protein, globulin, bilirubin, BUN, creatinine, calcium, glucose, magnesium, sodium, potassium, cholesterol, and a host of other tests will be run on the blood sample. Some vets do their own lab work, others send out the blood samples to a local lab. Either way delivers important blood test results. We've seen the price of this vary from $100-$200, but it's well worth it. Some vets will include a T4 thyroid test in with this cost.

Urinalysis $40
They will check things such as PH levels, look for protein, ketones, nitrites, blood in urine, white blood cells, red bood cells, squamous cells, and give the urine specific gravity.
Note: Don't panic if the specific gravity is low, it's expected to be lower since the dog is drinking extra water the urine is diluted.
Tip: Capture the urine first thing in the morning in a jar and make your vet appointment for early morning so the urine is fresh.

SECOND VISIT:

After the blood and urine tests are complete your vet will probably suggest scheduling another test:

Low (or High) Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test $110+
This is the best test to confirm Cushings. This is an 8 hour test where you bring your dog into the clinic in the morning for a dropoff. They take a blood sample to use as a baseline, then they inject dexamethasone (a synthetic steroid that similar to cortisol, in healthy animals it will reduce ACTH from the pituitary gland which in turn reduces cortisol being pumped out at the adrenal glands). At 4 hours and 8 hours later they take additional blood tests to see if cortisol levels were suppressed or not. In Cushings cases the cortisol levels will be high because the body failed to suppress the ACTH.

Once Cushings disease is diagnosed your vet will then talk to you about treatment options.

GET COPIES OF ALL TEST RESULTS! You paid for the tests and are entitled to the test results. Keep them for your records, if you decide to get a second opinion on your dogs treatment bring those records with you to the new vet. Those records will also be important for you to compare any future bloodwork that you may have done. If you forgot to ask for your test results (easy to do with all the distractions and stress) drive back to the vet and the front desk folks will make copies for you.



Ultrasound (optional) $400-600
Some vets will also recommend getting an ultrasound done to determine if there is a tumor on the adrenal glands. This is optional. If Cushings disease is diagnosed there will either be a tumor on the pituitary gland (most common) or on the adrenal gland. Medication is similar in either case, but most adrenal tumors can be operated on (though high risk) so a good ultrasound candidate would be someone willing to spend several thousand dollars "if" the ultrasound came back positive for an adrenal tumor. Otherwise Cushings disease will be treated with medication, the most common Cushings maintenance solution.
Medication estimated cost: $50-$120/month depending on drug type and dosage required, plus future vet checkups to make any dosage adjustments.

If you chose to have an ultrasound most vets will send you to a vet hospital to have an ultrasound performed since it requires specialized equipment. Alternatively in many areas vets will basically share the same ultrasound specialist and will have a mobile ultrasound specialist visit their clinic one day a week to do multiple ultrasounds. Price shop for this, because even though it's the same specialist doing the ultrasound at various vet clinics the prices are set by the vet clinic and so vary widely.

For best results they will shave your dogs side so that the ultrasound probe can make complete contact with your pets skin. Results are known immediately. The procedure is painless, and most dogs ignore what's going on. If your dog is easily frightened or has high anxiety they may opt to give the dog a mild sedative to keep him still (no anethesia unless it's an extreme case or if biopsies are ordered).

 

Treatment Options

This is a personal choice, some people prefer traditional treatment and others prefer the more natural (and typically more expensive) approach of holistic / homeopathic care, and others strike a fine balance between both treatment types by giving their pet a traditional pharmaceutical drug but then also supplement their diet with vitamins and herbs and even accupuncture sessions to keep their pet in the best condition possible.

 

 

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Canine Cushings Disease dog photo

Interesting Facts

Cushings Disease is most common in dogs, and is mostly seen in middle and senior aged dogs. Pituitary gland tumors are more commonly found than adrenal gland tumors.

Approximately ten out of every million humans are diagnosed with Cushings Disease.

In horses it is referred to as ECD, Equine Cushings Disease.

Cushings Disease, while not seen as often in cats, is more likely to affect females than males and diabetes is commonly diagnosed along with it.

Did you know....

"Cushings Disease is the most common endocrine disorder in older dogs. It's important that people are aware that while there is no cure (yet) the condition IS treatable and many more happy years can be had with their beloved pet."