Tuff's Story - Addison's disease (a hormone disorder)

Tuff is a very lucky 8 years old Fox Terrier whose dad narrowly escaped the London underground bomb blast recently by choosing the next carriage, and Tuff has recovered well from Addison's disease.

We first met Tuff when suddenly he became unhappy and stopped eating for a couple of days. He started having diarrhoea over the weekend, and was not drinking at all. He was immediately admitted to hospital and we started intravenous fluid therapy.

The next morning his heart rate was very slow, there could have been numerous reasons for this but we suspected his electrolyte imbalance slowed his heart beat down, so an Electro Cardio Gram (ECG) was conducted. ECG is a simple and gentle test that provides information of heart rate, rhythm, and conduction of electricity inside of heart. A normal ECG will have small positive peaks from atrial muscle activation followed by greater peak from ventricular muscle activation. The First ECG shows that it was missing P waves in most QRS complex. That means there was a serious problem with activating his atrial muscle. His blood results revealed that his blood potassium level was high enough to affect his heart activity, and might suggest that he had a problem with balancing blood sodium and potassium. Once we corrected his electrolyte balance, his ECG showed regular small P waves in every QRS complex. An ACTH stimulation test was done for Tuff, and it confirmed that his adrenal glands were not working well.

Tuff has a condition called Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's Syndrome), which means his adrenal glands do not work as normal for unknown reasons. Animals under this condition are normally not able to produce enough corticosteroid and aldosterone by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a natural happy drug. It helps animals to get through any stressful situation by increasing blood sugar and relieving pain. Aldosterone another enzyme works on the kidney to balance blood sodium and potassium levels which are critical to muscle and heart activity. Therefore, most affected animals do not show any symptom unless they undergo a stressful situation, such as another sickness.

The clinical signs are vague, so it can be just from being unwell, inactive, off food to vomiting, diarrhoea, drinking /urinating a lot, and abdominal pain. This can be managed by taking supplementary hormone tablets and checking blood electrolytes regularly.

Tuff who is loved by all in the hospital has recovered quickly since he has started his medication, and is again a happy and energetic part of the family.

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