Hypoadrenocorticism is treated with fludrocortisone or with monthly injections of desoxycorticosterone pivlate (DOCP) and daily prednisone. Routine blood work is necessary in the initial stages until a maintenance dose is established. Most of the medications used in the therapy of hypoadrenocorticism can cause excessive thirst and urination if not prescribed at the lowest effective dose, making it important to provide enough drinking water. If the owner knows about an upcoming stressful situation (shows, traveling, etc.), patients generally need an increased dose of prednisone to help deal with the added stress.
A medical history of the symptoms mentioned above, especially hyperpigmentation of the skin or gums, is often enough to raise a strong suspicion, prompting the appropriate tests. Quite often, however, the first clue is from the abnormal results of routine tests done in a hospital or doctor’s office. These may include an elevated blood level of potassium, a low blood level of sodium, a shift in the ratio of certain white blood cells, or surprising changes on an EKG or chest x-ray that are caused by high potassium or low blood volume. Other causes for these changes, particularly from medications, must be considered first.