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Inside Scoop: TCVM Veterinarians Share Holistic Cushing's Disease Protocol

Inside Scoop: TCVM Veterinarians Share Holistic Cushing's Disease Protocol

We are so sorry for the challenges you are facing with your dog's Cushing disease.  

In this article, we're sharing the dog Cushing's disease protocol TCVM veterinarians Dr. Marc Smith and Dr. Casey Damron recommend in their Tennessee clinics.

Unfortunately, Cushing's disease is a permanent condition. In other words, you'll never make it go away. 

However, the good news is there are many things you can do at home to help your dog feel better and have a wonderful quality of life.

What Does Canine Cushing's Disease Look Like?

One of the tell-tale signs of canine Cushing's disease is the bloated or "pot-bellied" appearance of the afflicted dog's abdomen. 

The pot-bellied appearance happens because of increased fat in the abdominal organs and because the abdominal wall weakens.

Other tell-tale signs are:

  • panting
  • increased thirst and/or urination
  • thin skin
  • chronic skin infections
  • dark-colored spots
  • skin mineralization
  • slow skin healing
  • persistent bladder infections

Of course, you can only obtain a definitive Cushing's diagnosis from your vet and through testing. 

The two most common tests to detect Cushing’s disease are the ACTH stimulation test and the low-dose dexamethasone suppression (LDDS) test.

Ultrasound testing is also helpful because it allows your veterinarian to see the adrenal glands and determine their size and/or the presence of a tumor.

During testing, you vet may discover your dog has Cushing's disease or Atypical Cushing's disease.

Sometimes, holistic vets will bypass testing.

One reason is, if your dog has Atypical Cushing's, the test will come back normal.

In Atypical Cushing's, your dog has all of the symptoms of Cushing's disease, but when tested, the results are normal.

Luckily, natural Cushing's treatments help dogs with both regular Cushing's and Atypical Cushing's.

Another reason is the tests for Cushing's can be quite expensive and difficult for pet parents to afford.

From a TCVM perspective, both Cushing's and Atypical Cushing's are treated with the same protocol. 

And, because TCVM looks at the underlying causes, standard testing is not needed to choose the correct TCVM herbs.

Cushing's Disease Protocol Step #1: Learn More About Cushing's Disease

If you are new to Cushing's disease and are still learning how it affects your dog, you should get a free copy of our ebook Solutions for Dogs with Cushing's Disease: How to Make Your Best Friend Feel Better.

Holistic veterinarians, Dr. Casey Damron and Dr. Marc Smith wrote the manual, with the pet parent in mind. It explains what's going on and how your dog feels, and offers information on things you can do at home to help.

Cushing's Disease Protocol Step #2: Supplement with Melatonin and Lignans

One of the first things our vets recommend for dogs suffering from Cushing's is  supplementing with melatonin and lignans.

Melatonin and lignans are all-natural, and safe for all dogs.

And they can't hurt - they are a good supplement even if your dog has not been officially diagnosed with Cushing's. 


In Chinese medicine, melatonin is cooling, nourishes Yin, and clears heat to help alleviate the symptoms associated with Cushing’s disease.

In Western medicine, melatonin is often used to treat canine alopecia.  Melatonin also helps balance hormones and slow the growth of tumors.

Note: If melatonin makes your dog excessively sleepy, give melatonin only at night.

Get Melatonin


You can make even more improvements by adding lignans to your dog's protocol.

Studies show by combining lignans with melatonin, you can help lower the concentration of hormones like cortisol in your dog's sytem.

We prefer HMR lignans to flax hull lignans. The first reason is because HMR lignans are more concentrated, easier to dose, and more quickly absorbed in your dog's body.

HMR lignans come from the Norwegian Spruce tree.

When your dog ingests HMR lignans, the gastrointestinal bacteria converts it into the major-endogenous-mammalian lignan, increasing enterolactone and enterodiol in your dog's body.

Ultimately, the increase of enterolactone and enterodiol reduces cortisol levels, helping with Cushing's symptoms.

Lignans are also very powerful antioxidants for supporting your dogs immune system. In addition, HMR lignans:

  • support heart health
  • support cardiovascular function
  • promote normal digestion
  • stabilize sleep patterns
  • support skin and coat health.

    Get HMR Lignans

    Cushing's Disease Protocol Step #3: Feed Your Dog a Low-Fat Diet

    Another way you can help your dog at home is by feeding a special, low fat diet.

    The reason dogs suffering from Cushing's need a low-fat diet is because they also suffer hyperlipidemia. Hyperlipidemia is abnormally high levels of fats or lipids in the blood.

    Unfortunately, there are not many, if any, readily available quality low fat diets for dogs. 

    However, the good news is, you can easily make this diet at home in a slow cooker. 

    Just visit the PET | TAO website and read How to Cook for Your Dog With Cusing's Disease

    If your vet has indicated what stage of Cushing's your dog is in, PET | TAO has stage-specific recipes you can try.

    If you are not able to cook at home, you can help your dog with a pre-made energetically cooling diet, PET | TAO Chill, available in canned and freeze-dried.

    Of course, you should discuss any diet or supplement changes with your veterinarian.

    Cushing's Disease Protocol Step #4: Feed Freeze Dried Glandular Treats

    Dr. Smith and Dr. Damron recommend feeding freeze dried liver, lung, spleen and kidney treats.

    The reason is, Cushing's disease creates imbalances in the liver, lung, spleen and kidney meridians. 

    According to TCVM theory, feeding liver, lung, spleen, and kidney help energetically rebalance the affected meridians. 

    You can easily help your dog rebalance by feeding several PET | TAO freeze dried treats per day. 

    Get PET | TAO Freeze Dried Treats

    Cushing's Disease Protocol Step #5: Find a Good Liver Support Supplement

    Unfortunately, Cushing's disease causes extra stress on the liver. And often, dogs suffering from Cushing's are also prone to liver problems. 

    Therefore, you should should find a really good liver support supplement for maintenance and prevention of future liver problems.

    Dr. Smith and Dr. Damron recommend Harmonize Liver.

    Harmonize Liver combines milk thistle with other synergistic liver support herbs and supplements to help support and detoxify the liver.

    Cushing's Disease Protocol Step #6: Try a TCVM Herbal Formula

    Most people are unfamiliar with TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine). 

    TCVM, with its specialized herbal formulas, is an amazing tool for helping pets with chronic conditions like Cushing's disease. 

    The reason TCVM works so well is its philosophy of treating the pet as a "whole" and working on the root causes of the health condition. 

    TCVM offers herbal formulas specifically to help dogs with Cushing's disease.

    Some examples of TCVM herbs for Cushing's disease are:

    Because there are several different herbal blends for each diagnosis, we recommend a visit or consultation with a TCVM trained veterinarian to find the formula that will be most effective for your dog's health situation.

    TCVM herbal formulas require a veterinarian's authorization because there are several different TCVM herbal formulas to help dogs suffering from Cushing's. 

    Need Extra Help for Your Special Needs Dog?

    If you ever feel like you need extra help in managing your dog's Cushing's disease naturally or with TCVM herbal blends we can help.

    TCVM Pet Supply co-founding veterinarians, Dr. Marc Smith and Dr. Casey Damron, offer TCVM telemedicine consultations.

    If you get a TCVM telemedicine consultation ($125), you'll get personalized TCVM recommendations specific to your pet, including:

    • TCVM Evaluation
    • Food Therapy Recommendations 
    • TCVM Herb Recommendations & Veterinary Authorization
    • Supplement Recommendations
    • Alternative Medicine Recommendations

    If you reside in the Middle Tennessee area or would like to commute, you may choose an in-clinic appointment instead.

    You can learn more about each vet and contact the clinic you prefer directly:

    We hope this information helps you, and wish you the best in helping your dog feel better. 

    If you have any other questions or if we can help you in any way, just let us know!


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