The 8 Best Dog Foods For Cushing’s Disease

By Kevin Myers | 2021 Update

Have you noticed your dog drinking and urinating more than usual? A visit to the local vet and some diagnostic tests can confirm that your dog has Cushing’s disease.

Proper dietary therapy can help you control the symptoms of this disease and may prolong your dog’s life. But finding the right food for Cushing’s disease can be tricky. The best dog food for Cushing’s disease has low fat and fiber content and is hypoallergenic.

To make things easier, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide to help you find the best dog food. Let’s get started.

The Best Dog Foods For Cushing’s Disease

Top ProductsRatingTop 5 Ingredients
1. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Healthy Adult Weight Dry Dog Food4.6Chicken, Chicken Meal, Rice Bran, Split Peas, Whole Grain Brown Rice
2. Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Whitefish & Sweet Potato Formula Dry Dog Food4.7Whitefish, Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Lentils
3. SPORTMiX Wholesome Fish Meal And Rice Formula Dry Dog Food4.6Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice, White Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Rice Bran
4. The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Grain Free Whole Food Clusters Dry Dog Food – Chicken4.4Chicken, Potatoes, Peas, Chicken Liver, Lentils
5. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed4.5Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)
6. IAMS Proactive Health Senior Dry Dog Food, All Breed Sizes4.5Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum
7. Diamond Naturals Light Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food4.4Lamb Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice
8. Nutro Ultra Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food4.7Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran

1. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Healthy Adult Weight Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Rice Bran, Split Peas, Whole Grain Brown Rice

This adult dog food features high-quality, digestible protein as the primary ingredient. It also includes prebiotic fiber and antioxidants to support your dog’s digestion and overall health. The recipe has no artificial flavors, preservatives, colors, or GMO ingredients. Additionally, it is low in fat and has moderate fiber content.

2. Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Whitefish & Sweet Potato Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Whitefish, Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Lentils

Diamond Naturals recipe has premium protein sources and is ideal for all life stages. It features a whitefish meal and has optimal amino acids for strong muscles. Other wholesome ingredients include sweet potatoes, blueberries, kale, and raspberries.

This nutrient-rich recipe also contains proprietary probiotics for gastrointestinal health. It’s a grain-free and highly digestible recipe to support your dog’s digestive health. If you want a complete and balanced diet for your dog, this dog food is an excellent choice.

3. SPORTMiX Wholesome Fish Meal And Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice, White Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Rice Bran

SportMiX dry dog food features menhaden fish meal as its primary protein source. The grain-free recipe is completely free of corn, wheat, or soybeans. It can support your dog’s immune function and enhance their digestive health.

The formula contains prebiotic fiber and a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. It also contains natural vegetable digestive fibers to support easy digestion. Overall, it’s a great choice for dogs with Cushing’s disease.

4. The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Grain Free Whole Food Clusters Dry Dog Food – Chicken

Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Potatoes, Peas, Chicken Liver, Lentils

This dry food offers premium nutrition and is easy on sensitive stomachs. The formula features dehydrated free-range chicken as the first ingredient. It also includes whole foods, prebiotic fiber, and probiotics to support digestive health.  

The recipe has moderate fat and fiber content, making it perfect for dogs with Cushing’s disease. Finally, there are no additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

5. The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Grain Free Whole Food Clusters Dry Dog Food – Beef

Top 5 Ingredients: Beef, Potatoes, Peas, Beef Liver, Lentils, Carrots

If you’re looking for antioxidant-rich dog food for Cushing’s disease, consider The honest Kitchen Dry Dog Food. This recipe features dehydrated whole foods and is a grain-free product. It has grass-fed beef for a digestible protein source.

The formula also contains live probiotics and has low fiber and fat content. It uses fresh, simple ingredients that are minimally processed. Give your pet nutritious and delicious whole-food clusters for a healthy, active life.

6. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed

Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)

This tasty recipe is grain-free and protein-rich. It has moderate fat and low fiber content and is suitable for dogs with Cushing’s disease. It features deboned turkey as the top ingredient and delivers optimum nutrition for sensitive dogs.  

The recipe has premium dietary sources of antioxidants and omega fatty acids for a stronger immune system. It also contains prebiotic fiber and probiotics to support digestive health. Deboned turkey is the top ingredient on the list.

7. Diamond Naturals Light Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice

Diamond Naturals Light dog food has lamb and rice for easy digestion. It also has low fat and moderate fiber content to support dogs with Cushing’s disease.

The formula includes antioxidant-rich ingredients, omega fatty acids, and proprietary probiotics for whole-body health. It also has a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals. There are no artificial ingredients in this product.

8. IAMS Proactive Health Senior Dry Dog Food, All Breed Sizes

Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum

If you have a sensitive senior dog with Cushing’s disease, consider buying the IAMS Proactive Health dog food. This recipe has real chicken and whole grains. It also includes prebiotic fiber, probiotics, and antioxidant-rich ingredients. There are no artificial flavors, additives, or synthetic preservatives in this product. The formula also contains DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin to support your dog as he ages. Finally, this food is low in fiber and fat content.

9. Nutro Ultra Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran

This dog food uses highly digestible proteins and lignin-rich superfoods to provide your dog with healthy nutrition. The recipe has whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for complete and balanced nutrition. It has no artificial flavors, colors, additives, or preservatives and is GMO-free.  

This great-tasting recipe smells good and leaves no after-odor. It helps ease the digestive distress your pet may be experiencing. Finally, it’s low in fiber and fat to help dogs with Cushing’s disease.

10. Hill’S Prescription Diet Metabolic Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Soybean Mill Run, Corn Gluten Meal

If you’re looking for the best prescription diet, this one has everything you need. This prescription diet has moderate fat and fiber content and is nutritionally balanced for dogs with Cushing’s disease. It is also ideal for weight maintenance.

This high-protein formula supports your dog’s vitality and overall health. It has a synergized blend of ingredients and delivers powerful antioxidants for a stronger immune system. The formula also meets specific nutrient standards to keep your dog’s urinary system healthy.

11. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat LF Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice , Chicken By-Product Meal, Wheat, Barley, Natural Flavors

The Royal Canin dog food can help maintain your dog’s gastrointestinal health. It’s a veterinary diet for dogs that may have trouble digesting or tolerating high-fat content. It features digestible proteins and prebiotics for easy digestion.

This dog food contains soluble and insoluble fibers for a healthy GI tract. It also includes omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA for complete and balanced nutrition. It’s available in a 1.5-pound container, and you’ll need a veterinary prescription before purchasing this product.

12. Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken (Boneless, Skinless, White Breast), Water Sufficient for Processing, Potato Starch, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate

This recipe helps calm distressed gastrointestinal and urinary systems. It contains tender, boneless chicken in savory gravy. If you’re looking for a gourmet food option, consider the Weruva paw lickn’ wet dog food. It has low fat and fiber content and contains minimal carbs for a nutritious meal.

This grain- and gluten-free dog food is perfect for sensitive dogs. It features a healthy blend of vitamins and minerals to meet your dog’s dietary needs. It’s available in a 12-pack of 14-ounce cans and smells delicious.

13. Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Senior 7+

Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Poultry By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal

The Purina Pro Plan canned dog food for seniors contains high-quality protein, including real chicken as the primary ingredient for healthy muscles. It’s a moderate fiber and fat product to help dogs with Cushing’s disease.

The crunchy kibble contains tender meaty shreds and has a unique texture. Additional supplements deliver live probiotics to maintain your dog’s gut flora. Also, this recipe will help maintain normal appetite and stool consistency.

14. Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid)

This canned food is grain-free and protein-rich. It features a delicious blend of turkey and sweet potato. You can use this as the primary diet for your dog or as a topper for dry kibble recipes. It has low fiber and moderate fat content to support optimal immune health. It also has omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support a healthy heart. It comes in a 12-pack of 13-ounce cans and is suitable for all breed sizes.

15. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Canine Dog Treats

Top 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Chicken Fat, Natural Flavors, Vegetable Oil, Dried Plain Beet Pulp

The Royal Canin treats are perfect for dogs with food sensitivities. It has hydrolyzed soy protein and prebiotic fiber for easy digestion. The treats have moderate fat and low fiber content. They are also low in purine and make excellent training treats.

The formula promotes urinary tract health and discourages the formation of crystals. It’s the safest option for dogs with dietary allergies and can help manage Cushing’s symptoms.

Related:

Buyer’s Guide

Cushing’s syndrome or Cushing’s disease happens when your dog’s body makes excessive cortisol. This hormone can help dogs respond to stressful situations, fight infections, and maintain their blood sugar levels. However, excessive cortisol in the body can cause problems.

Surgery can cure dogs with Cushing’s syndrome. If your dog can’t have an operation, changing the diet can help control cortisol levels. Vets can also prescribe medication to manage this condition.

Symptoms of Cushing’s disease

The disease mostly affects middle-aged and older dogs, and the symptoms may be harder to spot in the beginning. Some warning signs may include:

  • Excessive thirst or urge to drink large amounts of water
  • Urinating frequently
  • Hair Loss
  • Lesions on the skin
  • Fatigue
  • Visible pot belly
  • Excessive panting
  • Obesity

Dogs lose muscle and become weak as the disease progresses. Owners might also notice a thinning of the skin and hair loss on the flanks, neck, and perineum.

These symptoms take at least a year to develop. Some owners confuse these symptoms for common signs of aging. Many dogs develop an advanced form of Cushing’s disease before getting proper treatment.

Types of Cushing’s Syndrome

The scientific name for Cushing’s disease or syndrome is hyperadrenocorticism. It occurs when there is an overproduction of cortisol.

Many dog breeds can get this condition, and there are three major types that can affect dogs. These include:

Pituitary dependent

This is the most common type and affects up to 90% of the dogs with Cushing’s. It happens when there’s a tumor in the pituitary gland. The tumor can be malignant, but it prompts the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Fortunately, cortisol production can be controlled, and dogs with this type of Cushing’s Disease can live long and healthy lives.

Adrenal dependent

This affects around 15% of the diagnosed dogs and happens when there’s a tumor in one of the adrenal glands. These are small, triangular glands located on top of both kidneys. Adrenal glands produce hormones to regulate metabolism and regulate the body’s stress response. If the tumor is benign, vets can remove it surgically and cure the condition.

The third type of Cushing’s disease results from excessive steroid use. Prolonged uses of oral and injectable steroids can increase cortisol levels and cause dangerous consequences.

Diagnosis of Cushing’s disease

Diagnosing Cushing’s disease is challenging and can be very expensive. Your veterinarian might recommend blood and urine tests to make the diagnosis. Elevated levels of the liver enzyme phosphatase in the blood and dilute urine can indicate that testing for Cushing’s disease may be necessary. Once your vet has diagnosed your dog, you can ask for dietary recommendations.

Vet-recommended Diet for Canine Cushing’s Disease

One way to help manage your dog’s symptoms is by feeding him an appropriate diet. When you’re choosing dog food, make sure it has the following qualities:

Moderate Fiber

Your dog will need moderate levels of fiber.

Highly Digestible Protein Source

Dogs with Cushing’s disease need digestible proteins. They need amino acids for muscle growth and maintenance. Muscle loss and weakness are common in dogs with Cushing’s disease. Good sources of easily digestible proteins include eggs and muscle meats like chicken, beef, and lamb.

Low in Fat

A low-fat diet is essential for dogs with Cushing’s disease. That’s because excessive cortisol leads to higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Look for dry dog foods with less than 12% fat.

Low Purine Levels

Organs like the liver have high purine content, so it’s best to avoid dog foods with organ meats.

Starting a Hypoallergenic Diet for your Dog

Dogs rely on their human parents to keep them happy and healthy. If your dog is showing symptoms, you should try avoiding dietary allergens. You may also need to consult with your vet to determine if your dog has any food sensitivities and get started on a hypoallergenic diet. Here’s all you need to know about different types of hypoallergenic dog food:

Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Food

Hydrolyzed dog foods are easily available at a vet’s office, and you can also buy them online. This type of dog food features easily digestible animal proteins. It’s purified to remove dietary allergens and is suitable for sensitive dogs with Cushing’s disease.

If you’re considering buying hydrolyzed protein dog food, you may want to know its benefits:

It’s easier on the stomach.

Hydrolyzed protein foods are less likely to cause gut issues. The lactose in traditional protein dog foods can cause digestive distress, such as diarrhea, bloating, and cramping, especially in dogs that are lactose intolerant. If your dog has a severe dairy allergy, you may want to consider a plant-based hydrolyzed protein.

It has low fiber and fat content.

Hydrolyzed proteins are highly concentrated, making them low in fiber and fats.

It might help dogs recover faster.

Hydrolyzed proteins contain smaller peptides that are rapidly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and are readily available for use by your dog’s body. Faster nutrient absorption can help your dog recover faster and develop a healthy immune system.

Grain-Free

Grain-free diets have many benefits for sensitive dogs. They eliminate all grains, including rice, oats, wheat, barley, cornmeal, spelt, rye, and triticale. Some people may also choose to exclude ingredients derived from grains, such as corn or rice syrup.

You should avoid grain-derived table scraps such as bread, muesli, pasta, breakfast cereals, rice cakes, pastries, and cookies.

Grain-free diets can help manage your dog’s symptoms and keep him comfortable.

Gluten-Free

Gluten ingestion can promote gastrointestinal inflammation. Gluten-free dog food is a great alternative for dogs with Cushing’s disease. You may want to avoid plant protein gluten and use organic dog foods so that your pal receives quality nutrition.

Limited-Ingredient

Limited-ingredient dog food is an excellent option for dog owners. It contains fewer ingredients to prevent allergic reactions. Most limited ingredient dog foods are purposefully simple and have one protein and carbohydrate source. They’re an excellent choice for dogs with Cushing’s disease.

Limited ingredient diets eliminate dietary allergens and are moisture-rich for added hydration.

If you are interested in buying a limited ingredient dog food, you should consult with a nutritionist first. It’s possible that LID dog food can work for your situation, but you need to consider your pal’s unique dietary needs before making a decision.

Novel Protein Dog Food

A novel protein dog food contains a protein that your dog hasn’t tried before. This diet also has a single source of carbohydrates. Finding the right novel protein dog food depends on your dog’s past exposure to different proteins. Some options include salmon, venison, turkey, duck, or lamb.  

Homemade Dog Food

A homemade meal can also be a great option for your dog. This allows you to choose the best ingredients for optimal health. You can also avoid contaminating the meal by storing and cooking the ingredients separately.  

Pet owners can consult a certified nutritionist to help them plan home-cooked meals. Your goal is to fulfill your dog’s dietary needs and provide all the essential nutrients for a complete and balanced diet.  

Dairy-free diet

Dairy can be particularly problematic for dogs with Cushing’s disease. Dairy sources can cause inflammation in the GI tract and worsen your dog’s CD symptoms. Vets will most likely recommend a dairy-free diet to prevent complications.

Can Dietary Therapy Cure Cushing’s?

Dietary or nutritional therapy will not cure Cushing’s disease, but it can help control the condition. Providing the right balance of fat, fiber, and digestible proteins can reduce high cortisol levels and support your dog’s immune system. A good diet may improve your dog’s quality of life and make them live longer. Food therapy can also nourish your dog’s muscles and increase energy levels. A combination of vet-prescribed medicines and a high-quality commercial diet can help dogs with Cushing’s live happily for years after their diagnosis.

Commercial Diets for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease

When choosing a commercial dog food, read the label and compare it to the nutritional features discussed above. Remember to consult with your veterinarian about dietary recommendations before making any decisions. Vets understand your pal’s unique nutritional needs and can provide meaningful guidance.

Raw Diet For Dog’s With Cushing’s Disease

Many people believe raw diets can help dogs with Cushing’s disease and prefer using raw or homemade diets to manage their dog’s symptoms. Dog ancestors relied on raw meat for their sustenance, so it’s natural to think our dogs have the enzymes for digesting raw food. If you feed raw dog food to your pal, you may notice health benefits like:

  • Higher energy levels
  • Healthier skin and coat
  • Greater muscle strength
  • Improved digestion
  • Stronger bones and teeth

However, there are some concerns about feeding a raw diet. Firstly, the ingredients may not meet all of your pup’s dietary needs. You would need to feed additional supplements to achieve a balanced diet. Raw meats have bacteria that can make dogs sick if their immune response fails to protect them. Finally, you’ll need to follow proper cleaning procedures after each meal to prevent contamination.

Supplements For Cushing’s Disease

Fish oil – This can help lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

Probiotics – Digestive enzymes or probiotics can aid healthy digestion and boost immunity.

If you’re feeding a raw diet, you may need to supplement calcium and phosphorus for bone health.

Antioxidants – Beta carotene, methionine, tocopherols, selenium, and vitamin C can help regulate fats in the blood.

Calcium and Phosphorus – If you’re feeding a raw diet, you may need to add these supplements for bone health.

There are a variety of natural and herbal supplements that may be helpful. Examples include burdock, milk thistle, Miao San, rosehips, nettle, and apple cider vinegar. Consult with your vet or a holistic nutritionist before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

How to Manage Canine Cushing’s Disease

Managing with Medication: Your vet can outline a treatment plan to manage your dog’s Cushing’s Disease. Make sure to follow the vet’s recommendations to help your dog. 

Lifelong Treatment: In many cases, affected dogs need lifelong treatment. You’ll need to monitor your pet and make sure that they receive the right medication.  

Survival Period: The average survival time for a dog with Cushing’s disease is around two years.

Frequently Asked Question

Should I supplement Cushing’s disease diet?

If you’re feeding an AAFCO-formulated diet for adult maintenance containing low fiber and digestible proteins, then you don’t need to use supplements. However, fish oil supplementation and antioxidant therapy can lower triglycerides and circulating blood fats.

What diets do vets recommend for Cushing’s disease?

Vets recommend high-quality dog food that is low in fats, sodium, and chloride. It should have moderate fiber content and contain egg whites. It should also have highly digestible proteins and meet the AAFCO standards for adult dog maintenance.

How can I support my dog with Cushing’s disease?

Try to diagnosis your pal as soon as possible, and then start feeding a vet-recommended low-fat and high-protein food supplement. You can help maintain your dog’s cholesterol levels and nourish their muscles with a proper diet.

Is there a natural cure for canine Cushing’s disease?

Yes, many natural substances will detoxify your dog’s liver from unwanted foods, and burdock is one of them. You can also use dandelion, which is also great for liver health. Lastly, feed your dog natural low-fat and protein-rich food.

Does melatonin help dogs with Cushing’s disease?

Melatonin is a great supplement for dogs with Cushing’s disease. It supports live health and can decrease cortisone levels. The benign tumor from the pituitary or adrenal glands may not be fully treatable, but melatonin helps to keep it under control.

What happens if Cushing’s disease is left untreated in dogs?

If Cushing’s syndrome is left untreated, dogs can become lethargic and weak. They develop an increased susceptibility to contracting infections and may also develop skin lesions.

What are the final stages of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs?

As Cushing’s disease progresses, dogs lose muscle and become fragile. Owners might notice lesions on the skin and hair loss on the neck, flanks, and perineum. Weight gain and lack of energy are also symptoms.

Why does Cushing’s syndrome cause excessive panting in dogs?

Excessive panting in dogs with Cushing’s syndrome is multifactorial. Dogs may want to cool themselves, relieve anxiety and pain through panting.

Is shaking a symptom of Cushing’s disease in dogs?

Yes. Excessive cortisol levels can cause muscle weakness and shaking.

What dog breeds are prone to Cushing’s syndrome?

Cushing’s is more common in these breeds:

  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Poodle
  • Dachshund
  • German Shepherd
  • Dandie Dinmont
  • Boxer
  • Boston Terrier
  • Maltese

What should dogs with Cushing’s disease not eat?

Avoid feeding your dog table scraps and treats that have high-fat content. You should follow your veterinarian’s recommendations to find the right diet for your dog.

How much water do dogs with Cushing’s disease need?

Water intake should be less than 1 ounce per pound of body weight per day.

Do dogs become obese with Cushing’s disease?

Yes. Chronic conditions like Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism can cause weight gain in dogs.

What is the best drug for treating Cushing’s syndrome in dogs?

The most common treatment drug is Vetoryl. Lysodren is another drug that vets don’t prescribe any more.

What physical features does Cushing’s disease produce?

Cushing’s disease produces physical features, such as a rounded face, thin skin, obesity, and proximal muscle weakness.