View Full Version : Ringo, 10 yr old chow retriever shepherd mix, costs for diagnosis and treatment?

10-02-2009, 12:01 AM
I suspect my soon to be 10 year old dog has Cushing's Disease. Does anyone know the costs ahead to have him tested and/or medicated? Also, can a dog be treated for Cushing's by symptoms only and not specific testing? I appreciate any feedback on this. Money is a concern and issue at this time. :( I love my dogs more than anything. :)

10-02-2009, 12:40 AM
I would like to welcome you to our group! I warn you we have a tendency to ask a lot of questions but that just helps us to give you the best feedback we can from the group's collective experience. The first thing I would like to ask is what is your name & your pup's name? It's a little mor personal than saying, "heh, you!"

Could you tell us exactly what symptoms you are seeing that make you suspect Cushing's? It's very important that things like diabetes & thyroid be ruled out as a lot of the symptoms for those 2 problems overlap with Cushing's.

Unfortunately, it is basically impossible to treat for Cushing's without the proper diagnostic testing to get a confirmed diagnosis. IMHO, no vet will treat for Cushing's without the necessary diagnostic testing being done because Cushing's is one of the most difficult & frustrating diseases to diagnose. For example, the gold standard for diagnosis is the low dose dex test. Unfortunately, this test has one big drawback as it can generate a false positive result in the presence of non-adrenal illness. This is why a positive on a low dose dex test requires confirmation with a second test, usually an abdominal ultrasound or high dose dex test. Costs can be somewhat variable. The other danger is that the 2 drugs that are used to treat, lysodren & trilostane, can be extremely dangerous when given to a dog who DOES NOT have Cushing's. The diagnostic phase is without a doubt the most expensive. Once you have a confirmed diagnosis, & your pup is stable on medication, the costs will drop considerably. When it comes to medication, you can shop around to try to find the best price, including on-line pharmacies. A lot of members use Diamondback Drugs in Scottsdale, AZ as they have good pricing & will ship anywhere in the country.

Here is a link from the important information & resource section of our forum that will give you further information about checking on financial assistance with vet bills.


Hope this helps & looking forward to hearing more.


PS- I, also, need to add that what type of vet you use will affect the cost meaning a general practice vet vs. an internal medicine specialist. You want to be very careful about what type of vet you use as not a lot of GP vets have the necessary experience & knowledge to treat Cushing's. We have seen this time & again, a vet who lacks adequate knowledge to treat Cushing's, starts "flying by the seat of their pants" by not following standard protocols, & the pup pays the price. This is why an internal medicine specialist may be the best choice because they have the required training & experience to handle endocrine disorders. Personally, I am fortunate that my GP vet is well experienced in treating Cushing's, so I have not had to resort to a specialist.

Squirt's Mom
10-02-2009, 09:30 AM
Hi and welcome to you and your baby! :)

Boy, this is a lot to take in at first, huh? So many questions, so much confusion, so much pressure, so many emotions all balled up with no where to go...lordy do I understand! But here's a good bit of news or two - Cushing's is a slowly progressing condition so you have time to make sure this is really what you are dealing with; there is no need to rush into treatment, tho the testing is critical and needs to be done as it can. Second, this is not a "death sentence" for your baby - many pups have lived their normal expected life span plus after diagnosis and treatment, so there is every reason in the world to have hope. :):):)

The expense with Cushing's is rather daunting in the beginning phases but once a confirmed diagnosis has been reached, treatment started and the dose dialed in, the out of pocket expenses usually drop dramatically. My Squirt was diagnosed in 3/08 and I have spent somewhere around $2000 on testing since...give or take a bit. BUT I am one who wanted every test available done just to sure I had covered all the possibilities. That is not necessary...I just get a bit anal about my Sweet Bebe! :o;):p

Since you are in the beginning stages, there is one simple, inexpensive test that can let you know if your babies problem is NOT Cushing's and that is the UC:CR. This test CANNOT diagnose Cushing's, but it can rule it out. Based on those results and depending on the breed(s) of your pup, the next testing would be the LDDS or ACTH, an abdominal ultrasound, and, again depending on the breed(s) of your baby, maybe the UTK panel to test for other hormones sometimes involved in Cushing's. These are the absolute minimums in the testing phase IMHO (in my humble opinion). It is vital to make sure your baby has Cushing's BEFORE starting treatment with Lysodren or Trilostane as these drugs can cause permanent damages, even death, in a non-cushinoid pup.

There will be many more questions for you over the next few days/weeks but please understand we are simply trying to gather as much info as we can in order to help you and your baby to the best of our ability. The more info we have, the better! :D For now, what is your name and your babies name, if you don't mind sharing?

Please know that you are not alone on this journey. We have all been where you are and understand how you are feeling. You have found a really wonderful group of folks here who not only have a ton of experience and knowledge to share, but big, soft shoulders to lay your head on and gentle hands to hold yours any time you need.

I am glad you found us and hope to learn much more in the near future about both of you!

Keep your chin up!
Leslie and the girls

10-03-2009, 04:07 PM
My name is Rayna and my precious pups name is Ringo. Ringo has always been a dog to have extreme thirst; however, over the past 3-4 years it has increased. Within the past 2-3 years, his hunger is increased dramatically. Just the past 4 months, his hunger has been insane. He will do anything and everything to get food as if he is so obsessed for eating. He will grab food from the counters and is now knocking over the trash to get anything he can. This behavior is new for him. He also pants a lot and I noticed his fur is thinning when I part it. Ringo is a chow, retriever, shepherd mix and is shy of turning 10 years old. Ringo had surgery in March of 2009 for a tumor growing from his rectum. At that time, the vet mentioned the possibility of having him tested for Cushings based on his blood results and my input. She mentioned it will be an entire day worth of testing (I believe blood work). Because he hunger is so out of control now I feel the need to have him tested but because of financial duress on our part, it is not feasible at this time or anytime in the near future. I feel so helpless at this time to help my baby. I wanted to know if there is anything I can do in the interim that will help Ringo, possibly homeopathic approach or vitamins or any suggestions will help? I appreciate the sites for financial assistance and will check them out. We also have two other dogs. One is a 13 year old akita mix who we adopted last year at her young age of 12. It took us three months to rehabilitate her and she now knows she is safe in a loving home. She has been such a blessing. Our other pup is a 6 year old beagle mix who likes to "talk" a lot lol. Thank you for taking the time to help me. My "puppies" are our lives".

10-03-2009, 05:31 PM
Unfortunately, Rayna, there are no "natural" treatments for Cushing's that have been proven to be effective. You have to have a treatment that will lower the over production of cortisol by the adrenal glands, & there are only 2 drugs that will effectively do that, lysodren or trilostane. Since finances are a serious concern for you, I will mention that there is a 3rd drug, Anipryl, which might possibly help with some of the symptoms, but over the long haul, this drug will not lower the production of cortisol. Anipryl is normally used to treat canine cognitive disorders, but it might possibly help Ringo with his symptoms to get him a little more comfortable. I would suggest talking to your vet. I would also suggest, if you haven't done it already, having a heart to heart with your vet about finances, & see if the vet's office can work-up an estimate for testing & treatment.


10-03-2009, 07:28 PM
Thank you so much for the information Debbie. I will take Ringo in to see my vet and see what the suggestions are. Is Cushing's Disease deadly or painful for dogs?

10-03-2009, 08:54 PM
Left untreated Cushing's disease can cause multiple organ failure due to the overproduction of cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cushing's also causes depression of the immune system leading to repeated infections that may be hard to treat. Again, those repeated infections may have serious consequences. Most things I've read & heard say about 2 years left untreated, & untreated will, in all likelihood, lead to things like heart & kidney failure, liver failure, etc. I asked my vet with my 1st Cushpup how long without treatment, the response was about 2 years. I was also told that untreated Cushing's is a slow, ugly death.


10-03-2009, 08:56 PM
Is Cushing's Disease deadly or painful for dogs?Hi, Rayna,

Cushing's itself does not usually cause death or pain. The thing is, that a dog who has Cushing's is producing excessive amounts of cortisol, which is a steroid made in the adrenal glands. The overproduction of cortisol causes symptoms which you can see (such as increased appetite and water consumption, hair loss, pee accidents in the house etc) but it also affects internal organs and systems that you can't see, often leading to secondary conditions which can be painful and which can also cause death.

Here's a link to where some of those conditions are listed:

Medical complications associated with untreated Cushings Disease (http://www.k9cushings.com/forum/showthread.php?t=195)

I'd also like to let you know that although it can be expensive to start with, the cost of treating for Cushing's usually goes down significantly after you've got the diagnosis confirmed and the treatment underway. And if you're lucky, maybe your Vet will be willing to let you pay what you can afford (ie work out some kind of payment plan with you)

My Bichon Frise was diagnosed at age 10 and was treated successfully for more than 6 years with Lysodren, and after we got through the initial part (the diagnosis and start of treatment) it really only cost us around $10 a week for his meds plus the cost for ACTH stimulation monitoring tests which are usually done about 3 times a year.

The treatment made a huge difference for my dog - not only did all of his symptoms resolve and his appearance improve to the point where you couldn't even tell there was anything at all wrong with him, it seemed to make him feel years younger.

P.S. I see that Debbie and I were replying at the same time, and it looks like we both said pretty much the same thing. Sorry for any duplication! :)

10-03-2009, 08:56 PM
Hey, 3doglover. Sounds like you and I are in a similar boat. I had a regular vet visit for Tansy and I paid $230 including the blood test. I am told it is not definitive, but she has some wildly off numbers.

I am not sure why I did the test, if I cannot confirm or afford treatment, but at least if I am pretty sure, I can keep an eye on her discomfort. I am so used to her symptoms, I would swear she was not that uncomfortable. But, she is not a complainer.

Good luck to you, we should be able to learn from each other as well as from this great forum of helpers.

Merrianne(who really needs a new name!)

Roxee's Dad
10-03-2009, 09:14 PM
Hi Rayna,
A belated welcome from me to you and Ringo.

Is Cushing's Disease deadly or painful for dogs?

That is a tough question but here is a link to our resources section that will help you understand what may happen if left untreated.


I left my pup untreated for quite a long time because I was afraid of the treatment at the time. If I had found this forum back in 2006, I would have had the confidence to move forward with the treatment.

My Roxee did okay although she had all the symptoms. As time went on the panting, appetite, thirst all increased. Eventually the effect of cushing's (high cortisol) started to eat away at her muscles (muscle wasting). She was no longer able to climb stairs, so I built her a ramp. Eventually she could no longer use the ramp and I would have to carry her outside and hold her upright until she gained her balance. She eventually went blind. I somehow finally found this forum and gained the confidence to start treatment. Roxee regained her muscle tone, all her bloodwork came back to within the normal range. My little girl was certainly stronger. Her appetite and thirst came back to normal. Unfortunately she passed on recently due to neurological issues.

It was very sad for me to watch her health decline and go from a very happy, athletic pup to barely being able to stand up on her own.

Debbie and Leslie have given you some very good information. I hope you are able to work something out with your vet.

PS: I see Debbie and Cush have responded at the same time. Oh well, you can never have too much information when it comes to your pups health.

10-04-2009, 10:26 AM
I can't thank you all enough for all the information. I thank this forum as well. I know I am not alone. I am going to bring Ringo to my vet and find out what the next step is. I love my dog so much and to just sit back and wait is not an answer for me regardless of the financial situation. Where there is a will, there is a way and I will find it. My Ringo depends on me. If he has Cushing's, that does not bother me as much as him having Cushing's and me not doing anything about it. You have all motivated me. Thank you again.

10-04-2009, 02:12 PM
Hi Rayna, and welcome from me too! :)

I am so happy to hear your positive attitude about treating Ringo. I would hope your vet will work with you in the financial end of it so Ringo can get the correct diagnosis and treatment. I am completely aware of the strain and stress, both financially and emotionally, when we are faced with this situation. I like to think like you though...where there is a will, there's a way. You are a great mom!

You have a very large and strong support system here and we are all more than willing to help in any way we can. :)

Please ask all the questions you want and keep us posted with any news from the vet. Also, it would be a great benefit to you and to us, if you would request copies of all tests done on Ringo. Most all of us keep files on our cushpups. For you, they would be handy for references when needed, and for us to help you understand what the tests mean.

Hang in there and we will be waiting to hear results.

Shelba and Suni

Harley PoMMom
10-04-2009, 02:37 PM
Hi Rayna, and a belated welcome from me too!

I second everything Shelba has just said...this Cushings is a terrible disease, but with proper treatment your cushpup can live a full and happy life.

Along with the copies of tests I have for my boy Harley, which I keep in a huge 3-ring binder notebook, I also have a regular notebook dedicated for Harley just for his vet visits, in this I jot down any questions I might have for his vet to answer, sometimes I'll even take a tape recorder along because my feeble mind doesn't seem to retain information like it used to. :eek::p

These amazing people here have helped Harley and me tremendously, and I know they will do the same for you...in fact Harley just recently celebrated his 13th birthday, and I know this would not of happened if I had not found these wonderful people on this forum. Hang in there Rayna, we're here for you.


10-04-2009, 11:14 PM
Rayna, I'm so glad to hear that you will be talking to your vet. Please let us know how it goes. We are here to help in any way we can. Just know that you & Ringo do not have to start your Cushing's journey alone.


Squirt's Mom
10-05-2009, 11:16 AM
Hi Rayna,

I, too, am pleased that you will be looking into getting Ringo tested and treated in spite of the hardship it will place on you. But, please understand that if it is just more than you can take on right now that doesn't mean you are not welcome here....not at all!!! We will honor your decision regardless and continue to do all we can to help you and Ringo. You are family now and we want you to keep in touch often.

Let us know how the vet visit goes!
Leslie and the girls