Published: 13 Dec 2021 | Last Updated: 13 Dec 2021 11:07:01

Naturally occurring Cushing's syndrome, is an endocrine disorder which results from chronic excessive production of glucocorticoids. It is associated with recognised clinical signs and can increase the risk of dogs developing other diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension and urolithiasis. Whilst a number of risk factors have been identified, these findings are often produced from potentially biased referral populations, or from studies with relatively small study populations which may not be represenatative of the general dog population.

In this study, the one-year prevalence of Cushing's syndrome was estimated using anonymized electronic patient records in the VetCompass database of dogs presented to UK veterinary practices with pre-existing and incident cases of Cushing's syndrome during 2016. Incident cases were analysed to identify potential demographic risk factors for a Cushing's syndrome diagnoisis. Analysis included 970 pre-existing and 557 incident cases of Cushing's syndrome from a population of 905,544 dogs. 

The one-year period prevalence for Cushing's syndrome in 2016 within UK primary-care practice was estimated at 0.17%, which is similar to, if slightly lower, than previously reported estimates. The Bichon frise, Border terrier and Miniature schauzer had the highest odds of Cushing's syndrome, while breeds such as the Golden retriever and Labrador retriever were the most protected breeds. Other identified risk factors for the disorder included increasing age, bodyweight greater than the breed-sex mean and being insured.

The findings of this study provide new information on the epidemiology of naturally occurring Cushing's syndrome which can help veterinarians during diagnosis by raising awareness of key breed and age associations.

Full study available open access:

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