Is Addison’s disease contagious in dogs? Here’s What to Do Next

Causes of Addison’s Disease in Dogs

In most cases, the cause of Addison’s disease in dogs is unknown. Veterinarians suspect that most of these cases result from an autoimmune process. Addison’s disease can also be caused by destruction of the adrenal gland, either by a metastatic tumor, hemorrhage, infarction, granulomatous disease, adrenolytic agents like the drug mitotane, or a drug like trilostane that inhibits adrenal enzymes.

When something interferes with the adrenal gland, the body is no longer able to produce glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, specifically aldosterone and cortisol. This leads to a wide range of symptoms and in acute cases of Addison’s disease, death.

Scientists may not know what exactly causes Addison’s disease, but any dog can develop Addison’s disease, whether a purebred or mixed-breed dog. There are, however, some breeds that appear to be predisposed to the disease:

Addison’s disease can affect any breed of dog, as well as mixed-breed dogs, regardless of the age or gender, but it is most common in young, female, and middle-aged dogs.

Clubs Offering:

AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.

Addison’s disease, scientifically known as hypoadrenocorticism, is a disease with serious consequences for dogs, although fortunately with proper treatment, dogs diagnosed with Addison’s disease are expected to have normal lifespans. Addison’s disease occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce the hormones that they are in charge of in the body.

The most important hormones produced by the adrenal glands are steroids, particularly aldosterone and cortisol. These steroids play a large role in regulating your dog’s internal organs and body systems. Without them, your dog’s body deteriorates, leading to serious complications and even death.


Your veterinarian will perform blood and urine tests to evaluate your dog’s illness and look for signs suggestive of Addison’s disease, such as electrolyte imbalances in sodium and potassium.

Addisons disease is confirmed with a blood test called ACTH Stimulation. ACTH is a hormone that instructs the adrenal gland to produce cortisol. The test evaluates the adrenal gland’s response to a synthetic form of ACTH by measuring cortisol levels before and after the injection.

Occasionally, tests such as X-rays or abdominal ultrasounds may be performed to rule out other causes of illness.

Addison’s disease in the dog. Dr. Dan explains symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment