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Thyroid Problems in Dogs

Like humans, dogs too can suffer from thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. The following DogAppy article elaborates more on thyroid diseases in dogs.
DogAppy Staff
Thyroid disorders are commonly observed in dog breeds such as Greyhounds, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Setters. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are the two types of thyroid conditions diagnosed in dogs. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is no longer capable to produce the thyroid hormones in sufficient amounts. On the other hand, a dog diagnosed with hyperthyroidism has abnormally high levels of thyroid hormones due to overactive thyroid gland.

Symptoms

A dog suffering from a thyroid condition shows acute lack of interest in his day-to-day activities. The affected dog appears less energetic and prefers to be alone, resting in one corner of the room. Other symptoms are given below:

Unexplained Increase in Weight: Metabolic disturbances resulting from thyroid issues can cause rapid weight gain in dogs. The dog appears lethargic and shows signs of fatigue.

Sudden Loss of Hair: The decreased metabolic rate leads to a poor hair coat in dogs. Few patches devoid of hair are also seen on the neck and head.

Dry Flaky Skin: Malfunctioning of the thyroid gland can affect the skin significantly. The skin looks pale and cold. The sebaceous glands that produce sebum to keep the skin warm and moist also work inefficiently.

Unusual Sleepiness: Thyroid problems makes the dog feel more exhausted, hence, it tends to sleep more than normal hours.

Causes

Damage to the thyroid gland results in thyroid problems in dogs. Studies have shown that hypothyroidism occurs when the dog's immune system attacks the cells of the thyroid gland and destroy them. However, few medications or diseases related to thyroid gland can also reduce the quantity of thyroid hormone being produced. Hyperthyroidism results when thyroid hormone supplements are taken in excess amounts.

Treatment
  • Canine hypothyroidism that involves insufficient production of thyroid hormones is treated with thyroxine tablets or pills. The drug contains synthetically prepared hormones, which helps to restore thyroid function. However, it needs to be given in the prescribed dosage to avoid any side effects. For thyroxine to be effective, the dosage is administered every 12 hours (twice daily).
  • When it comes to treating hyperthyroidism (over production of thyroid hormone), veterinarians commonly prescribe Tapazole (Methimazole) pills. As hyperthyroidism lasts for quite some time, long-term usage of tapazole is needed. Tapazole works by restricting the amount of thyroid hormone being produced and tries to bring it in the desired range.
  • In some dogs with hyperthyroidism, surgery is performed and the entire thyroid gland is removed.
  • There are quite a few herbal supplements such as 'Thyro-Pet' and 'Thyroid Soothe' that can help to relieve thyroid symptoms. These supplements contain ingredients such as ginseng, kelp, and chamomile that can bring this thyroid condition under control.
During the course of treatment, the veterinarian will perform blood tests to determine the functional status of thyroid gland. Regular blood tests are necessary to monitor thyroid hormone levels of the affected dog, and the treatment is stopped as soon the production of the hormones comes within the normal range.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.