Adrenal Disorders in Dogs with Dr. Ruth Roberts

Adrenal Disorders in Dogs with Dr Ruth Roberts on Your Natural Dog Podcast with Angela Ardolino

Recently I did a podcast with Dr. Ruth Roberts, integrative veterinarian, holistic health coach, longtime pet advocate and your pet’s ally. Dr. Ruth is also the creator of The Original CrockPET Diet, a balanced home cooked diet for pets. Through her diet and practice, Dr. Ruth has supported thousands of dogs and cats to overcome health hurdles like kidney disease, GI illness, allergies, and cancer. She joined us on Your Natural Dog Podcast to discuss the adrenal diseases and disorders that are so prevalent in dogs today, and what we can do to prevent them or support our pets after a diagnosis. 

Listen in to the whole episode:

What are Adrenal Disorders?

The adrenal glands are small glands located above each kidney. They are a part of the endocrine system, which is a collection of glands that produce hormones. The adrenal glands produce essential hormones, including sex hormones and stress hormones. In the case of adrenal gland disorders, the glands either produce too much or not enough hormones. 

As stated in The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on the subject of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, when hormones are unbalanced for any extended period of time, it “nearly always result(s) in dysfunction or disease.”

What Causes Adrenal Disorders in Dogs?

Adrenal disorders are caused by problems with one or both adrenal glands, causing the production of too much or not enough hormones. For instance, Cushing’s Disease involves the production of too much cortisol, and with Addison’s Disease in dogs, not enough cortisol is produced. 

Adrenal disorders are sometimes caused by masses or tumors on the adrenal or pituitary gland, which can be the case for Cushing’s Disease and Pheochromocytomas. 

More recently, it has been suggested that spaying or neutering too early may be leading to increased hormonal imbalances and endocrine dysfunction. After a spay/neuter, the adrenal glands must take on the burden of producing sex hormones due to the absence of the reproductive organs. Sex hormones are not solely necessary for reproduction, they also play a role in a dog’s growth and development, behavior, immune system, as well as their susceptibility to cancer, diabetes and other metabolic or endocrine-related disease. 

Taking over production of these hormones can overwhelm the adrenal glands, leading to disruption of their hormone production, which can lead to dysfunction and disease. A 2013 UC Davis study analyzed the multiple organ systems that may be adversely affected by neutering. Their analysis revealed that early neutering was associated with an increased occurrence of Hip Dysplasia, Cranial Cruciate Ligament tear, and Lymphosarcoma. 

Common Adrenal Diseases in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease, also known as hypercortisolism or hyperadrenocorticism, involves the production of too much cortisol hormone. Cortisol helps control stress, weight, infections, and blood sugar. Too much cortisol, or not enough cortisol, can wreak havoc on your pet’s overall health. 

Pituitary Dependent Cushing’s Disease is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, and is the most common type, occurring in 80-90% of animals with Cushing’s Disease. Adrenal Dependent Cushing’s Disease is caused by a tumor on the adrenal glands, and is the second most common, occurring in about 15% of animals with Cushing’s. Iatrogenic Cushing’s Syndrome is caused by over-prescription of steroids, and is the least common type of Cushing’s.

Related: CBD for Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Addison’s disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is when the adrenal glands no longer produce, or cannot produce enough hormones, specifically cortisol and aldosterone. It is commonly caused by some type of immune-mediated response resulting in destruction to the adrenal tissue. It can less commonly be caused by trauma, infection, or cancer.  

The other form of Addison’s may be caused by a tumor or some type of pituitary defect. This may occur when a dog has been treated with steroids long-term or has abruptly stopped taking any medication. Iatrogenic hypoadrenocorticism can also develop in dogs after ending long-term steroid use. 

Related: Managing Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Managing Adrenal Diseases in Dogs

When pets come to Dr. Ruth’s practice with a Cushing’s or Addison’s Disease diagnosis, they are typically between 8 and 12 years old. They’ve most likely been spayed or neutered early in life, and have had a lifetime of exposure to antibiotics, NSAIDs, and other pharmaceuticals. This results in poor gut health, a liver that is unable to process waste, and a non-functioning endocrine system. To combat all these issues, and give pets the support they need, Dr. Ruth has created protocols for managing adrenal disorders in dogs. 

CBD for Adrenal Disease in Dogs

One of Dr. Ruth’s first steps is to start them on CBD for dogs, to encourage homeostasis in the body. CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system to bring the body back to balance. This includes hormonal imbalances like the cortisol imbalance from the adrenal or pituitary glands. CBD is also helpful in the case of adrenal disorders caused by tumors, as CBD has been found to trigger apoptosis (natural cell death) in cancer cells. It has also been found to reduce the growth of tumors by preventing the formation of blood vessels that feed the tumor’s growth. 

For dogs with adrenal disorders, we recommend CBD Dog Health’s HEAL: CBD Oil for dogs, which is an 1100mg Full Spectrum Hemp Extract. Based on research and our experience, we recommend starting with 35-50 mg daily to treat Cushing’s Disease or Addison’s Disease in dogs. Within that range we recommend you start low and adjust based on your pet’s response to determine your optimal dose. 

Related: CBD Dosage for Dogs

Food Therapy: The Original CrockPET Diet

Paying attention to what our pets eat is the first step in preventative care and maintaining good overall health. 70-80% of the immune system is housed in the gut, yet most pet parents overlook their pet’s diet when health issues arise. Dr. Ruth realized that in order for pets to meet their bodies’ needs, they needed real food. She created The Original CrockPET Diet to be able to share with pets the same nutritional foods we feed ourselves. 

Most commercial pet foods, beyond being highly processed with added chemicals that can cause a leaky gut, also use high pressure pasteurization, which can remove important nutrients. Dr. Ruth’s Original CrockPET Diet helps pet parents take back control of their pet’s diet and become their pet’s best advocate.

Supplements for Gut Health

To further support gut health, Dr. Ruth recommends adding a probiotic supplement like Fidospore, to aid with digestion and reduce leaky gut. 

Next, she recommends a mucosal support supplement, MEGAMUCOSA, which is formulated with immunoglobins and amino acids to support a healthy mucosal barrier. 

Supporting the Endocrine System

To support the endocrine system, Dr. Ruth recommends Holistic Total Body Support for cats and dogs. This all-natural, glandular based multivitamin helps boost your pet’s immune system, support their natural defenses, and helps achieve wholly balanced nutrition. 

Dr. Ruth also recommends Symplex M or Symplex F to support the sexual endocrine system. Symplex M is a testicular health supplement that supports the healthy function of the testes and the adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid glands. Symplex F supports the healthy function of the ovaries and the adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid glands.

Your Pet’s Ally

Pet parents may not be able to protect pets from disease, but we can support our pet by becoming their best ally. We believe when you know better, you do better. So take back control of your pet’s diet and be your pet’s advocate when it comes to what is entering their system. Whether that’s synthetic pharmaceuticals, processed food, toxic flea and tick medications, household chemicals, or even over-vaccination.  

Support your pet’s endocrine system, and don’t spay or neuter too early. When it comes to the question of when to spay a dog or when to neuter a dog, the answer isn’t clear-cut. Most integrative or holistic veterinarians will suggest pet parents not spay or neuter in the first year. However others may suggest not to spay or neuter your pet in the first five, six, or even eight years of age. 

To support your pet’s overall gut health and immune system, we recommend a fresh, species-appropriate diet, which can be supplemented with probiotics. 

To book a consultation with Dr. Ruth Roberts, or to learn more about The Original CrockPET Diet, any of the recommended supplements in this article, and access many more resources from Dr. Ruth Roberts, visit her website



About Angela Ardolino

Angela Ardolino Author Photo with Odie the SchnauzerAngela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert and educator who has been caring for animals for over 20 years. Angela owns and operates Fire Flake Farm, a rescue animal sanctuary farm, and two locations of her natural pet salon and shop Beautify the Beast. She’s also the founder and formulator of CBD Dog Health, which offers high quality, all-natural cannabis health and wellness products for pets; and MycoDog, which creates and produces high-quality medicinal mushroom and adaptogen tinctures specifically for pets.

Accordingly, she uses CBD Dog Health’s Full Spectrum Hemp Extract and MycoDog mushroom extracts on all her pets at her rescue farm every day since 2016. Angela has Odie a 16-year-old mini-schnauzer, as well as Jolene, Maza, and Rhemi. In addition, she has 4-10 more any time she is fostering or boarding. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians and the Veterinary Cannabis Association. In fact, Angela has educated hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians on the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals.

About Dr. Ruth Roberts

Dr Ruth Roberts Author Photo with dogsDr. Ruth Roberts is an integrative veterinarian and holistic pet health coach, as well as being your pet’s ally. Like most veterinarians, her journey began with the love she developed for her childhood pets. While in veterinary school, it became apparent to her that her role as a veterinarian went well beyond checkups and surgeries. Dr. Ruth realized that she was more than a doctor to our furry friends, she was also their friend and advocate. 

Unfortunately, her textbook knowledge and many years spent practicing traditional Western veterinary medicine only took her so far. Dr. Ruth began pursuing acupuncture and Eastern Veterinary Medicine at the Chi Institute in Florida. This opened up many new avenues for her. But most importantly, it revealed the healing powers of acupuncture, as well as herbal and food therapy. She realized that what our pets eat is the first step in preventative care and maintaining good health. Dr. Ruth realized that in order for our pets to meet their bodies’ nutritional demands, they needed real food. And thus, The Original CrockPET Diet™ was born. Soon enough, acupuncture, herbal therapy and food therapy became her preferred treatments and recommendations. Integrative veterinary medicine gave her the chance to become not only an advocate for pets, but an ally.