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.

Related Articles


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 November 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 November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) — Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) — A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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