Hannah Gets Ill: Addison’s Disease Awareness—What’s Wrong With Hannah?

Addison’s disease is caused by adrenal insufficiency. It is a condition in which the adrenal glands fail to produce enough steroid hormones.

Whether there are too many or too little of these hormones in the blood, your dog can get quite ill.

Further reading: The Function of Cortisol: What Happens In A Dog’s Body When It Goes Awry?

Thank you, Diana King, for sharing Hannah’s story.

Hannah Gets Ill: Addison's Disease Awareness—What's Wrong With Hannah?

Hannah’s story

After my first Pyr girl, Mariah crossed the Rainbow Bridge in June 2012, I was devastated. We had her for 11 1/2 years and she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

I was lost without Mariah and my other two Pyrs were also grieving her loss. One day I found myself looking on Petfinder.com on Great Pyrenees Rescues. I saw a precious baby girl, Great Pyrenees wrapped in a pink blanket, I fell in love with her and adopted her August of 2012. Hannah was 12 weeks old then.

Hannah falls ill

When Hannah reached the age of six months she became very ill.

She had developed a twitch above her right eye. She would stop in the middle of her walk and just stare. I took her to our vet and they examined her and threw a few guesses of what it may be.

Two weeks later it was more consistent, more twitches and lasting 30-90 seconds. 

We took Hannah back in. A different vet saw her that day and said she was having focal seizures. He referred Hannah to a neurologist. After a thorough examination, they guessed at epilepsy.

Further complications

Addison's Disease Awareness: What's Wrong With Hannah?

During the first three months, Hannah had developed numerous UTIs, not responding to antibiotics. Her creatinine became elevated and her electrolytes were running crazy.

Hannah began vomiting, losing her appetite, lost weight and became very lethargic. 

Six different vets had seen her by this time but none could give a conclusive diagnosis! I was getting really frustrated for her being poked, and on one medication to another. We changed her diet because one vet suggested kidney disease. She was on seizure medication because of the twitching. Then they wanted to do an MRI but said that may not tell them anything at all either, they were guessing.

We had a six-month-old Pyr puppy that suffered with:

  • “twitching”
  • elevated creatinine levels
  • dehydration
  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • back-to-back UTIs that never completely went away because she wouldn’t respond to any antibiotics …

Lacking diagnosis

I took over and researched Hannah’s every symptom.

PetMD search for twitching and elevated creatinine revealed the answer – Addison’s disease. The Great Pretender that mimics so many other conditions and could only be diagnosed by testing for it specifically.

We went the next week to a follow-up appointment with the neurologist. I had to carry Hannah inside, she was so weak. 

Hannah nearly dies

While we were waiting at the hospital, Hannah collapsed. I shouted for someone to come take her and get her some help!

The ER vet and neurologist came out and took Hannah’s blood pressure. It was at 40 and plunging, and she was getting cold. I lost it and demanded that they tested for Addison’s disease.

I heard the ER vet say, “We are losing her.”

My heart sank. The neurologist said they really don’t think this is Addison’s because her potassium looked good—he was looking at blood work that was 3-4 weeks old …

Emergency care

They rushed Hannah back into CCU, while I waited for four long hours and heard nothing.

Finally, the CCU vet and the neurologist came out and told me that Hannah was in critical condition. Her kidneys were failing and she did test positive for Addison’s disease!

They were giving her IV fluids, prednisone and Percorten.

Hannah remained in CCU for five days. 

When I went to bring her home she literally ran into my arms! I had my baby girl back and she was going home!

Do your homework

Today, Hannah is a healthy, very happy 2 1/2-year-old Great Pyrenees who lives her life to its fullest! She is on 5 mg of prednisone every day for the rest of her life, DOCP injections every 25 days and blood work every three months to check her electrolytes and kidney and liver functions.

If she is under stress such as going to the groomer or another vet appointment, I up her dose of prednisone for a day or so until she is regular.

If you love your pup as much as I love this girl and see something that just isn’t right, don’t settle for diagnoses that don’t bring a solution or at least a conclusive explanation.

Do your homework, stand your ground! 

Moms know their Pyrs and pups better than anyone. If I hadn’t researched Hannah’s symptoms and monitored them daily for three months, she wouldn’t have survived and I would have never known why.

In closing

Addisonian dogs can live a happy life if diagnosed and treated.

They will be on medication every day for the rest of their life but they will be living! Addison’s is a tricky disease to diagnose because it mimics so many other conditions:

  • kidney failure
  • epilepsy
  • focal seizures

With treatment they can be normal, happy dogs living a long life!

I hope Hannah’s story helps dog owners to understand this disease better. It is more common in females than males and it’s genetic.

I rescued Hannah, but she rescued me right back when she came back to me! It was not her time to go that day, I love her too much!!!


Do you have a dog diagnosed with Addison’s? Is your dog unwell and nobody can figure out why?

Addison dogs Facebook support group is comprised of individuals from around the world who are striving toward healthy, active lives for their canine friend(s) with Addison’s disease. They seek to improve wellness for the whole dog—including body, mind, and spirit.

Addison Dogs also works to educate and support the companion animal community about Addison’s disease in dogs. The goal is to foster open communication about the variety of options available to the caregiver of a dog with Addison’s disease.

Categories: Addison's diseaseConditionsLethargyLoss of appetiteReal-life StoriesSymptomsVomiting

Tags: :

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

Share your thoughts