Hypothyroidism is a pet’s inability to create enough of the necessary thyroid hormone, which results in a low-functioning metabolism. The disease is usually caused by a shrunken or inflamed thyroid gland, which commonly appears in middle-aged large dog breeds; hypothyroidism rarely occurs in cats and small dogs. On occasion, hypothyroidism is caused by a tumor that forcefully puts pressure on cells of the pituitary gland. In these cases, hypothyroidism can be life-threatening, thus seeking veterinary care is critical.
Most thyroid hormone deficiencies go unnoticed by pet owners because the symptoms appear gradually. By the time a new symptom onsets, an owner has already adjusted to a previous issue, not considering that the two could be connected and caused by the same underlying problem. If your pet is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, please contact our office to schedule an exam.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Droopy facial expression
- Dull coat
- Hair loss or thinning of hair
- Increased shedding
- Intolerant of cold temperatures
- Muscle weakness
- Unexplained weight gain
Treating hypothyroidism in pets
Pets that are positively diagnosed with hypothyroidism undergo hormone replacement therapy and remain on synthetic hormones for the remainder of their lives. In certain instances, the veterinarian may also find dietary restrictions helpful for your pet as well, such as limiting fat intake. After implementing the supplements, most symptoms subside within a few months, and the veterinarian will determine if levels can be reevaluated or adjusted, though this isn’t certain in all cases.
For pets receiving hormone therapy it is important to note that pet owners should not administer any medications or herbal supplements without consulting the veterinarian first. Medications react differently with synthetic hormones and it’s best to inquire first in order to prevent any subsequent issue.
If you have any questions about hormone therapy or about hypothyroidism, feel free to contact our office at your earliest convenience.