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Dog with Addison’s Disease Treated Just in Time

By Christy True
published: February 16, 2023 • 4 min. read
Molly the dog

Diagnosis: Addison’s disease
Cost: $1,981 | Healthy Paws reimbursed: $1,784
Coverage options:  90 percent reimbursement | $250 deductible

Pet parent Natali says her dog Molly, a 2-year-old Labrador mix, chose her and her husband Donny. Molly crawled under their fence two years ago when she was just a few months old and never left. They had planned to foster her for animal control until her owners claimed her, but no one ever did.

After a month, Natali and Donny officially adopted her. She adapted to their routines quickly and followed big brother Ben, a large mixed-breed dog, everywhere until she won him over too. She teases him with toys and tries to get him to chase her.

Molly catching a frisbee.

“She’s such a happy, playful soul; when she’s excited and wagging her tail, her whole body wiggles with it. She will wiggle across the room and is excited to see us, even after only five minutes apart,” Natali said. “She is the sweetest cuddle buddy and has to have her head resting on me at bedtime.”

Molly will play frisbee all day, but instead of catching it with her mouth, she grabs it with her paws. And she loves to go for rides on an ATV around their property. 

Molly stops eating, drinks excessively

Last November, Molly started acting ill. She was drinking a lot of water but not eating, so Natali suspected a urinary tract infection (UTI).

They took her to a vet, and a blood test indicated all her organs were in distress. They were sent home with an antibiotic and a supplement for her organs, but she continued to decline and still refused to eat.

She went back to the vet where they hospitalized her and treated her for three days with intravenous fluids and antibiotics, but her organs declined even further.

The vet feared she might have pancreatic cancer. He released her, and suggested an ultrasound, knowing there was nothing more he could do.

“I was devastated, but I was not going to give up on her,” Natali said.

“I’ve come across many pet owners who’ve had to put their babies to sleep or let them continue to suffer because they couldn’t afford to get them vet care – I couldn’t do that! If my dog has a chance at a long, healthy, happy life, I want to do everything I can to give it to them.”

— pet parent Natali
Protect your pet

An Addison’s disease diagnosis

Natali took Molly to a specialty vet hospital. The emergency vet had just worked with another dog diagnosed with Addison’s disease and suspected that Molly had it too. A test proved the vet was right, and Molly was in critical condition.

Molly the dog

“Had I waited just one more day to take her in, we could have lost her,” Natali said. “Never hearing of Addison’s before, I had no clue what this disease does to dogs.”

Addison’s disease in dogs is a disorder of the endocrine system. At its core, the condition is caused by a hormone imbalance. While it can be life-threatening, it’s also very treatable.  

Emergency treatment for Addison’s disease in dogs involves rehydration, cortisol-replacement medications, and other drugs to counteract the effects of hyperkalemia (excessive potassium). Once the vet gave Molly a cortisol shot, she started to improve and was eating again in two days. She shortly regained the 10 pounds she had lost during the ordeal.

Molly will require long-term treatment of Addison’s disease, with monthly shots of hormone replacement and a daily Prednisone (corticosteroid) pill for the rest of her life. With treatment, she can have a normal, healthy life, the vet told Natali.

“Seeing her little body wiggle again when she wagged her tail was such a joyful moment! I knew she was going to be alright,” Natali said.

How is Molly doing today?

Molly with a goat

A few months later, Molly is almost back to normal with high energy and a normal appetite. Natali has been able to cut back on the Prednisone dose, which was making Molly ravenous and irritable.

“Molly is doing great!! She’s back to running around, chasing birds off the property, teasing Ben into chasing her, playing with the baby goats and wiggling her sweet little body whenever you call her name,” Natali said.

How pet insurance helped

The two weeks it took from when Molly became sick to when she was diagnosed required several overnight hospital stays and numerous blood panels and X-rays, which really hiked the treatment cost. Natali was relieved to have pet insurance to help cover the costs and the ongoing treatment required.

“It was a very expensive couple of weeks but having pet insurance gave me the ability to say – do whatever needs to be done – and took a big load of stress off. This disease, while easily managed, is costly. The monthly shot runs close to $200, plus the blood panel required to check her levels. That’s a monthly cost made more affordable by having pet insurance,” she said. 

Natali has always carried pet insurance policies on her dogs – for her, the peace of mind is worth it, even if she never has to use it.

“I’ve come across many pet owners who’ve had to put their babies to sleep or let them continue to suffer because they couldn’t afford to get them vet care – I couldn’t do that! If my dog has a chance at a long, healthy, happy life, I want to do everything I can to give it to them,” she said. 

Ben the dog
Benjamin recovering from ligament surgery.

As it turns out, Natali has needed the insurance for both of her dogs. A few months before Molly’s illness emerged, her dog Benjamin had required two cruciate ligament knee surgeries (one on each side, six months apart), which cost about $13,000. Her Healthy Paws plan covered both.

“I’m VERY grateful to Healthy Paws. Not only did they pay out claims quickly, but they also showed a true concern for my fur babies. A personal email asking how my dogs are doing is an added touch you can’t overlook. My dogs are part of my family and I would rather starve than not get them the care they need; thanks to Healthy Paws – no one has to starve to make sure my fur babies stay healthy and happy,” Natali wrote.

The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued and applicable law.

Insured persons providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.

Christy True and Tomas
By Christy True

Christy has been writing about pets for Healthy Paws for 28 dog years. She also coordinates media requests and manages the Healthy Paws Foundation. A background in journalism may be why she enjoys writing about offbeat animal studies and the latest viral pet trends. She has been owned by several dogs, and she volunteers with a local dog rescue. Outside of work, she can usually be found sliding down a mountain near her home in Bend, Ore.

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