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If your poodle is vomiting and you and your vet have ruled out some of the more common causes (like dietary indiscretion), then you might want to consider Addison’s Disease.  And since Standard Poodles seem to have higher rates of Addison’s, it’s a good idea to mention this possibility to your vet if he or she doesn’t mention it to you.

So, how do you diagnose Addison’s Disease?  Your vet will do it with a special blood test.  It’s the only way to know for sure.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of Addison’s Disease are pretty vague.  Your poodle might vomit. She might seem listless.  In some cases you might see weakness, shivering or trembling. These symptoms may come and go, which makes them easy to miss.

As the disease progresses the symptoms get very serious.  Your poodle may have an irregular heartbeat.  She may even go into shock (with death following very quickly). As such, it’s a good idea to do the simple blood test (ACTH test) so that you can either start treating your poodle for Addison’s Disease or rule it out.

If you’ve already been to the vet with your vomiting poodle, then there’s a good chance you did a standard blood panel. While this can’t definitely diagnose Addison’s Disease, sometimes – but not always – it can offer your vet some clues.  Most notably, dogs with Addison’s Disease may have electrolyte imbalances, elevated potassium, BUN and creatine levels and an abnormal potassium/sodium ratio.

But again, these signs don’t always show up on a standard blood panel in a dog with Addison’s Disease.  Nor do these signs mean a dog has Addisons, as they can indicate problems with the kidneys, dehydration and other illnesses.  Only the ACTH stimulation blood test can give you the definite Addison’s Disease diagnosis.

So, that brings us to the next question: What, exactly, is Addison’s Disease?

In short, it means that your poodle’s body isn’t producing enough cortisol.  Cortisol is typically created in response to stress (the so-called fight or flight response). Stress for a dog can be as simple as you leaving (separation anxiety) to events like going to the groomers, getting boarded, going on a trip, moving, having house guests, introducing a new pet into the family, etc.

In short, a lot of things stress a dog. And if your poodle’s body isn’t making enough cortisol to handle this stress, she’s going to have problems.  If the disease progresses to the point where she goes into shock (Addisonian Crisis), you’ll need to get her to the vet NOW in order to save her life.

Fortunately, while Addison’s Disease is a serious illness, once your poodle is diagnosed and treated she can lead a normal life.  Basically, she’ll need to take medicines and/or get a shot that will give her the needed cortisol and other hormones that her body isn’t producing on it’s own.  During times of stress (like boarding), she may need an extra dose.  You’ll also need to have frequent blood tests (at least at first) just so your vet can monitor how her body is responding.

Bottom line: Addison’s Disease can’t be cured, but it can be treated so that your poodle can lead a normal life. The trick, however, is making sure you test/diagnose Addison’s Disease before your poodle’s life is threatened.

That’s it for this time.  Once again, keep checking back as we talk about other reasons your poodle may be vomiting.  And check the previous posts for other  posts in the poodle vomiting series. 🙂

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