Dog Hair Can Be Used to Diagnose Hormonal Problems in Dogs

Saturday 17th August 2013 @ 9:06 AM. (NZST)

Dog Hair Can Be Used to Diagnose Hormonal Problems in Dogs

Saturday 17th August 2013 @ 9:06 AM. (NZST)

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Science Daily July 19, 2013 — A surprisingly large number of dogs suffer from hyperadrenocorticism. The symptoms are caused by excessive amounts of hormones -- glucocorticoids -- in the body. Unfortunately, though, diagnosis of the disease is complicated by the fact that glucocorticoid levels naturally fluctuate and most methods for measuring the concentration of the hormones in the blood provide only a snapshot of the current situation. Recent research at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna has shown that glucocorticoids accumulate in the animals' hair and that analysis of a dog's hair can provide quick and reliable preliminary diagnosis. 

The results are published in the current issue of the journal Veterinary Dermatology.

Just over a century ago, Harvey Cushing published an account of a young woman who showed unusual symptoms because her glands were making excessive amounts of something. Subsequent research has shown that the thing in question is a set of hormones known as glucocorticoids that are produced by the adrenal glands, so "Cushing's disease" is now more commonly known as hyperadrenocorticism, at least by those who can pronounce it. The condition is particularly common in dogs, particularly as the animals grow older. Most cases result from a tumour in the pituitary gland but some relate to tumours in one of the adrenal glands themselves.

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