Endocrinology is the branch of veterinary medicine that diagnoses and treats problems with your dog or cat's endocrine glands, which secrete hormones that regulate many of your dog or cat's internal organs. When these glands malfunction and produce too much or too little of a hormone, problems result in the body. If not diagnosed and treated, illness and possibly death are the result.
Among the glands that make up the endocrine system are:
- Pituitary gland
- Thyroid and parathyroid glands
- Adrenal glands
- Ovaries (females only) and testes (males only), both of which release hormones as well as being responsible for reproduction
Some pet owners may be surprised by the fact that their dogs or cats, especially in their senior years, are susceptible to the same diseases associated with the endocrine system as humans are. Among the conditions that can affect dogs and cats are diabetes, Addison's disease, Cushing's disease, and other diseases that result when glands in the endocrine system malfunction.
Endocrine gland disorders are often difficult to identify by visual symptoms alone. As a result, these symptoms can either be mistaken for other conditions or may go undetected until it is too late to save the pet's life. This is why regular pet wellness checkups are so important.