Structure and Function of the Pituitary Gland in Dogs

Below is information about the structure and function of the canine pituitary gland. We will tell you about the general structure of the pituitary gland, how the pituitary gland works in dogs, common diseases that affect the pituitary gland and common diagnostic tests performed in dogs to evaluate the gland.

What Is the Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary gland, also referred to as the hypophysis, is a small, oval gland that is attached to the underside or base of the dog’s brain. It is an important link between the nervous system and endocrine system and releases many hormones that affect multiple body functions.

Where Is the Pituitary Gland Located in Dogs?

The pituitary gland is located on the underside of the brain within the skull. The pituitary is attached to the hypothalamus (an important part of the underside of the brain) via a stalk-like structure. The hypothalamus acts as the collecting center for information concerning the internal well being of the body. It uses much of this information to regulate the secretion of the hormones produced by the pituitary.

What Is the General Structure of the Canine Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary gland is no larger than the size of a pea, though its size varies among different dog breeds and individuals. Physiologically, the pituitary gland is divided into two distinct lobes that arise from different embryological sources.

What Are the Functions of the Pituitary Gland?

Although very small, this organ plays a major regulatory role in the entire endocrine system. Each lobe of the pituitary gland produces certain hormones in response to the body’s needs. They are then circulated in the blood to a variety of the body’s tissues. The close structural positioning of the glandular and nervous segments of this gland is symbolic of its function in interrelating the nervous and endocrine systems.

The functions of the adenohypophysis are to make hormones that turn on other endocrine organs. Examples of these stimulating hormones are as follows:

The neurohypophysis has two major functions, depending upon the hormone produced:

What Are Common Diseases of the Pituitary Gland in Dogs?

There are several disorders associated with the pituitary gland, most of which result from over production or underproduction of one of the pituitary hormones.

What Types of Diagnostic Tests Are Used to Evaluate the Pituitary Gland?

There are several tests that are particularly helpful in evaluating the pituitary gland.