What does the thyroid do? – The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4). The hormones are stored in the gland until they are needed by the body. T3 and T4 control all of the body’s metabolic processes.
What is hypothyroidism? – Hypothyroidism is a deficiency in the thyroid hormone. This condition is more commonly seen in dogs that are considered middle aged, or 4 – 10 years old.
Breeds more commonly affected – Hypothyroidism seems to affect some breeds more then others. These breeds include but are not limited to: Golden Retriever, Doberman, Irish Setter, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, and Schnauzer.
Symptoms – The symptoms for hypothyroidism to an owner might not seem like a big deal. When they are all put together a veterinarian might look at your dog and say “lets test this pooch’s thyroid.” The symptoms include but are not limited too: weight gain with no diet change, loss of hair on the tail (rat tail), dry hair coat and excessive shedding, lethargy, cold intolerance, anemia, high cholesterol, and hyperpigmentation of the skin.
Diagnosis – Diagnosing hypothyroidism is done by drawing a blood sample and testing the level of thyroid hormone in the blood stream. A veterinarian will determine the exact test run (there are a couple of choices available). Some veterinary clinics will have the availability to run these tests in-house while others will have to send the blood to an outside laboratory, this may take a few days to get results.
Treatment – The treatment for hypothyroidism consists of hormone replacement drugs for the life of the pet. The medication comes in pill form, some pills are made chewable and flavored, especially for dogs. The veterinarian will prescribe a base dose of the medication. The blood will need to be rechecked in about a month after being on the medication, the dose is then adjusted as necessary. Once the dog is on the correct dose of medication its blood work should be checked annually or as recommended by your veterinarian.
Additional Information –
- The hormone replacement drug will be necessary for the rest of your dogs life.
- It is important that the dog gets the drug everyday in order for the thyroid hormone concentration in its body to be normal.
- Once it has been on the drug for 3 – 4 weeks the symptoms will start to go away.
- If the dose of medication is too high then signs of hyperthyroidism will appear – increased thirst and urination, nervousness, weightloss, panting, weakness, and increased appetite. If you notice these signs stop the medication and call your veterinarian.
- Some medications that your dog may already be on can cause the thyroid hormone to be decreased. These drugs include: cortisone, aspirin, flunixin (Banamine), furosemide (Lasix), and phenobarbital. Make sure your veterinarian knows if your dog is taking any of these medications.