Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dog hair can be used to diagnose hormonal problems in dogs

Date:
July 19, 2013
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
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 has shown that glucocorticoids accumulate in the animals’ hair and that analysis of a dog’s hair can provide quick and reliable preliminary diagnosis.

Dog hair is used to diagnose hyperadrenocorticism.
Credit: Ouschan/Vetmeduni Vienna

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.

Natural aging or serious disease

One of the main problems with the diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism is that the symptoms appear only gradually, so owners and vets are initially likely to overlook them or to attribute them to other causes, such as general old age. Cushing's disease is associated with excessive drinking (and urination) and overeating, leading to a pot-bellied appearance, as well as with loss of hair. All of these symptoms can stem from a wide variety of causes so even when a vet suspects that an animal might have Cushing's disease it is difficult to be certain. Unfortunately, the methods commonly used to test for the condition are complicated and costly -- and generally only give information about the hormone concentrations at the time a sample is taken, when the animal might have unusually high levels because of the stress associated with the examination.

Analysis of dog hair reveals hormonal imbalance

Claudia Ouschan and colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna decided to look for a way to monitor the long-term levels of glucocorticoids. As the hormones are known to be present in hair, at least in humans, Ouschan reasoned that measuring glucocorticoid concentrations in dog hair might represent a way of diagnosing Cushing's disease without causing the animals unnecessary distress. She thus compared the levels of cortisol, corticosterone and cortisone in the hair of twelve dogs with hyperadrenocorticism and ten healthy dogs. The results were striking: all three hormones were found at far higher levels in the hair of dogs with Cushing's disease than in the control group, with the increase in cortisol particularly pronounced.

The importance of the finding is clear. As Ouschan says, "we have shown that the level of cortisol in dogs' hair is much higher when the animals have hyperadrenocorticism. Measuring cortisol in hair is so much easier and less painful to the animal than other tests for the disease and we think it has real promise for use as a rapid and non-invasive method to diagnose hyperadrenocorticism."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Claudia Ouschan, Alexandra Kuchar, Erich Möstl. Measurement of cortisol in dog hair: a noninvasive tool for the diagnosis of hypercortisolism. Veterinary Dermatology, 2013; 24 (4): 428 DOI: 10.1111/vde.12043

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Dog hair can be used to diagnose hormonal problems in dogs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130719083910.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2013, July 19). Dog hair can be used to diagnose hormonal problems in dogs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130719083910.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Dog hair can be used to diagnose hormonal problems in dogs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130719083910.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) — Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins