The shelter’s rescue liaison sent us a plea for a 10 year old white mix breed that was in need of major medical attention.  Apparently, someone found him on the side of the road so they took him to the shelter.  His intake photo resembled a schnauzer, but taking no chances, we high tailed it to South Los Angeles.  Out comes this BIG, BEAUTIFUL senior Westie boy that in reality is 14 or more years old.  The obvious issues were that he is overweight, pot-bellied, severe dental disease, missing most teeth, constantly licks the roof of his mouth and shakes his head, opacities in both eyes and a very stiff gait.   He appeared uncomfortable.

So we started at the top.  We ran bloodwork, urinalysis, and x-rays.  His bloodwork indicated that he could have Addison’s so we added a resting cortisol test.  When that came back negative, we tested him for Cushing’s.  We needed to address these issues before addressing his mouth and also had an ultrasound performed as there was some concern about possible prostate cancer due to his prostate being abnormally large.  Thankfully, that was ruled out and believed to be due to late life neutering.  The ultrasound indicated sludge in his gallbladder but the good news is that no mucus seal has formed.  We have started him on Ursodiol as a preventative measure.  Chase’s test came back positive for Cushing’s, which was really no surprise given his symptoms.   Cortisol is produced and stored by the adrenals, two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys and is one of the body’s natural steroids and  that a normal amount of cortisol helps the body adapt in times of stress. Cortisol also helps regulate proper body weight, tissue structure, skin condition, and other features of good health but too much cortisol weakens the immune system leaving the body vulnerable to other diseases and infections.  There are two common types of Cushing’s disease, either pituitary-dependent or adrenal-dependent.  About 80-85 percent of Cushing’s is pituitary-dependent, meaning it’s triggered by a tumor on the pituitary, a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain.  Because we did an ultrasound, we know his Cushing’s is pituitary-dependent.    

Considered a lifelong condition, the disease usually can be managed with medications.  Chase will retest after he’s been on medication for two full weeks and continue to have regular blood tests to monitor his response to treatment and help determine the right dose which may need to be adjusted periodically.   Treating Cushing’s is a balancing act, but dogs with the disease can live a good quality life as long as they are monitored closely by a veterinarian.

Today, he is getting the long awaited dental.  We are hoping to find the cause of his constant licking of the roof of his mouth.  If nothing is found, we assume it is neurological, possibly due to the tumor on his pituitary gland.

Chase is 100% sweetness and is a happy and content senior gentleman.  He follows us wherever we go.  He is fondly referred to as “our little big shadow”.  He is such a good save!  His diagnostics and treatment has been very costly and we are not done yet, but thanks to WestieMed, Chase is getting all of his needs met.

Karen Simondet

Westie Rescue of Orange County (WROC)

Update August 31, 2023:

WestieMed has been informed that Chase is now at Rainbow Bridge.