Treating Thyroid Problems In Dogs
Dog Thyroid Problems Table of Contents
"A thyroid problem in a dog is usually due to a decrease or increase in the production of thyroid hormone. An decrease is referred to as hypothyroidism, while an increase is referred to as hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is thought to be genetic while hyperthyroidism is commonly caused by a thyroid tumor (carcinoma). Hyperthyroidism is extremely uncommon in dogs. Treatment for involves the removal of the diseased sections of the thyroid in hypothyroidism and synthetic hormone replacement therapy where needed in both forms of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism can be easily controlled with an excellent prognosis. The prognosis for hyperthyroidism depends on the size of the thyroid tumor and if the cancer has spread. Holistic veterinarians believe natural medicine can be used to stimulate hormone production. All treatment recommendations are based on the exact condition of your dog's thyroid."
Overweight dog with long, thick and greasy coat , poor exercise tolerance, and susceptibility to skin infection diagnosed with hypothyroidism after tests came back showing low T4 and elevated TSH levels
Source: European Society of Veterinary Dermatology
OverviewThe thyroid gland is found in the neck and is made up of two lobes. This gland regulates the speed at which other body processes work. The thyroid gland is part of a three gland system including the hypothalamus and the pituitary. Problems in either of these glands can negatively impact the amount of hormone released by the thyroid. Diseases such as Hypothyroidism (too little hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much) are a direct result of this gland system not operating properly.
Dog Thyroid Glands and Anatomy
with this condition are suffering from the a tumor destroying
the thyroid or the pituitary gland. Since hypothyroidism in dogs is
related to less hormone, this directly relates to a slowing down of
body systems. Specifically this means that there is a drop in
production of thyroxine (T4) and 3,5,3 triiodothyronine (T3).
One in 250 dogs develop the condition. The mean age is 7 years old.
Healthy Beagle on Left Compared to Beagle Dog with Hypothyroidism on Right
Source: Oxford Labs
The disorder is referred to as being primary (caused by a problem in
the thyroid gland, in a form called lymphocytic thyroiditis and
Idiopathic thyroid atrophy), secondary (caused by another process in
the boy such as a pituitary gland problem), or tertiary (caused by the
part of the brain called the hypothalamus).
- Lymphocytic thyroiditis: when the thyroid is infiltrated by
lymphocytes, which are small white blood cells that help the immune
- Idiopathic thyroid atrophy: where the thyroid gland wastes away
with no known cause
cancerous tumor growth
Disease: Abnormal pituitary function
- Congenital problems
- Iodine deficiency due to dietary problems
- Iatrogenic: caused by a surgical procedure or radiation therapy
Large breed dog have a higher incidence of hypothyroidism:
- Doberman Pinscher
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Cocker Spaniel
- German Shepherd dog
- Mixed breeds
The behavioral, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, nervous, neuromuscular, ocular (eyes), skin and reproductive systems can be affected. Typical symptoms are:
- hair loss
- weight gain
Dog Hypothyroidism Symptoms on Skin
- mental dullness
- decrease in activity
- can't keep warm
- dry skin
- dry or dull coat
- skin infection/skin pus
- ear canal infection (otitis externa)
- skin thickening and puffy eyes (rare)
- Facial paralysis
Dog Hypothyroidism Symptoms such as Weight Loss and Dull Coat
Diagnosis for this type of dog thyroid
problem involves measuring the amount
of thyroid hormone being
Thyroid problem in dog treatment due to hypothyroidism involves replacement therapy of the hormone for the life of the patient. It may take some experimentation by your veterinarian to get the level right. Dogs will have a normal lifespan after treatment and any symptoms should clear. Dogs will be tested for thyroid function 6 weeks after starting therapy, then every 6 to 8 weeks for 6 to 8 months, then 2x per year.
If the condition is left untreated dogs
can develop myxedema (skin swelling), myxedema coma or atherosclerosis
(build up of plaque in the blood vessels).
Dog HyperthyroidismHyperthyroidism means that your dog is producing too much thyroid hormone. There is a higher incidence of the disease in Labrador Retrievers. The condition is usually caused by a dog thyroid tumor and is a very aggressive form of cancer, with 10% of dogs with a thyroid carnicoma being hyperthyroid (1). A form of hyperthyroidism in dogs, Iatrogenic hyperthyroidism is caused by over supplementation, but is rare.
- weight loss
- desire to eat more
- faster heart rate
- increased urination
- shortness of breath
Holistic veterinarians believe that in the case of hypothyroidism, that
natural medicine (herbal remedies) can be used to naturally stimulate
hormone production vs. the man made synthetic kind prescribed be
veterinarians. It might be worth discussing with your veterinarian
alternatives such as the one made by
Pet Alive called Thyro-Pet
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References For Thyroid Problem In
(2) Feldman EC, Nelson RW. Hypothyroidism. In: Feldman EC, Nelson RW. Canine and Feline Endocrinology and Reproduction. St. Louis: WB Saunders; 2004, pp 86-151.
Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health
The Mechanic's Guide to Your Patient's "Idle System": Thyroid
The Pet Hospital, Portland, OR, USA.
Researched by: Jeff Grill