Symptoms of Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Have you heard of Addison’s disease? Did you know it can affect dogs, as well as humans? Do you want to find out more about the symptoms and signs of this condition to determine whether or not it might be affecting your dog?

In the article below, you’ll find a list of symptoms that are commonly associated with Addison’s disease in dogs. You can use this list to narrow down the possibilities for your own dog, then speak to your veterinarian for more information about your pet’s specific diagnosis.

addison's disease in dogs

What is Addison’s disease?

Addison’s disease causes the adrenal glands in a dog’s body to stop functioning the way they’re supposed to. When this happens, the glands don’t produce the hormones they should, which in turn affects the whole body, including the dog’s stress response and electrolyte balance.

Sometimes this condition is caused by damage to the adrenal gland related to injury, tumors, medication, or diseases. However, there are many situations in which the dog’s adrenal gland doesn’t function properly due to immune-mediated disease.

Breed Predisposition

Dogs can and often do develop this condition no matter what their breed. Mixed breed dogs can also contract Addison’s disease, and the problem is not specific only to certain breeds or breed mixes. However, there are some breeds that are more commonly affected by Addison’s than others.

Breeds commonly affected include standard poodles, bearded collies, great Danes, Portuguese water dogs, and soft coated wheaten terriers. Additionally, this condition is slightly more common in female dogs than males.


  • Mood Changes
    • In the early stages of Addison’s disease, dogs may develop depression or become lethargic. They are unwilling to get up and play like they might have once been, and they are less interested in spending time with the family or doing their favorite activities.
  • Appetite Changes and Digestive Trouble
    • Dogs can lose their appetites and may lose weight as a result of this decreased appetite.
    • The condition frequently causes diarrhea (which is sometimes bloody as well) and vomiting.
  • Dehydration and Related Symptoms
    • Vomiting and diarrhea quickly lead to dehydration in dogs. Dehydration is very dangerous and can lead to death in just a few days if left untreated.
    • Along with dehydration, dogs with Addison’s disease may experience an increase in thirst and urination.
  • Abnormally Low Heart Rate and Weak Pulses
    • As the disease progresses into its later stages, dogs may develop a low heart rate due to an abnormality in the body’s electrolytes and weak pulses due to dehydration and dangerously low blood pressure.
  • Pain
    • Dogs with Addison may have abdominal pain.
  • Weakness and Collapse
  • Dogs experiencing advanced symptoms of Addison’s disease are very ill, may exhibit weakness or collapse, and will die if not treated promptly.

Know the Facts

There are many symptoms associated with Addison’s in dogs that are similar to other conditions and illnesses. Just because your dog has one or two of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean they have Addison’s disease. However, it could mean that they need to be checked out for the possibility.

You should always talk with your vet if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health and wellbeing. Your vet knows your individual dog’s specific needs, requirements, and health history and can provide guidance regarding testing, if indicated.