My dog was recently diagnosed with Cushing's disease. He has been drinking a lot of water and having accidents in the house. He also has a really good appetite.
My vet did a dexamethasone test and confirmed that he does have Cushing's disease. But, I don't know if I want to treat him. The medications that they want to use are expensive and then there are a lot of blood tests that need to be done afterwards.
I have read about a natural product called Supraglan for cushing's and I would love to know your thoughts on this product. There are a lot of good testimonials from people who say it is a miraculous drug. But, I want to make sure this is not a scam before I buy some.
Dr. Marie replied:
Sorry to hear that your dog has Cushing's disease. You are right that this can be an expensive disease to treat. The disease causes the adrenal glands to grow too large which ends up causing too much adrenaline to be produced. This results in an increase in thirst and urination and appetite. At first the symptoms aren't too bad, but as the disease progresses other things start to be affected such as muscles and the liver. Eventually the disease is fatal.
I've had a good look at Supraglan for you. When you read the testimonials it sounds incredible. But, I never judge a drug based on testimonials. Anyone with good marketing skills can build a page of testimonials. If a product is that good then it should be easy to do a scientific study to prove that it works well. Unfortunately all of the testimonials I see are simply anecdotal.
So, the next thing I did was do a thorough search on Veterinary Information Network (VIN). This is a conglomeration of tens of thousands of veterinarians. As vets we discuss cases, medications and other treatments on VIN. There is a whole section on VIN for alternative and natropathic/homeopathic medicines. Believe it or not there are vets who specialize in this type of medicine.
I found many posts on VIN from vets whose clients were asking about the effectiveness of Supraglan for cushing's. None of the homeopathic vets were in favor of it. Here is a summary of some of the concerns these vets had:
The makers of this product are not members of the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council). If a natural product for pets carries an NASC seal then you can be more certain that it is a reliable product. Supraglan does not carry this seal.
The product is made for both Cushing's disease (overactive adrenal glands) and Addison's disease (underactive adrenal glands). Some of the herbs in the product are meant to stimulate the adrenal glands. This is exactly the opposite of what you would want for Cushing's disease.
One of the well known veterinarians who is a specialist in "alternative medicine" simply said, "This is one of the more bizarre herbal companies/formulas I've seen."
So to summarize, I would say that if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. If there was a natural product that worked well for Cushing's disease like this one claims, then I would be selling it! I think some people believe that vets have a conspiracy that we wouldn't sell a natural product because we would make more money selling the traditional medicines. This is baloney! If a product worked well and saved my clients money then I would be stocking a bunch of it on my shelves.
If I was the maker of Supraglan, and I truly believed it worked then I would be inviting several veterinarians to do trials for me. I would give free product to give to patients who had Cushing's disease and didn't want to do traditional treatment. I would ask them to use the Supraglen and then have the vet report back to me on how the animals were doing. I would also ask for blood tests to confirm the findings. It would not be hard to get people to do this. If a product worked this well they many people would be quite happy to have bloodwork done. I can't find a single study that shows it works.
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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