What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a clinical condition associated with a deficiency of thyroxine (T4 and T3). This leads to slow metabolism in most tissues in the body. This is the most common endocrine disorder in dogs. Because thyroid hormone has an effect on virtually all organ systems a variety of signs and symptoms may be present
How does my dog get Hypothyroidism?
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an immune mediated inflammation of the thyroid leading to cell damage and decreased hormone production. Additionally, cellular atrophy, thyroid destruction by cancer or infection, and insufficient dietary iodine, can all lead to thyroid gland dysfunction.
How do I know if my dog has Hypothyroidism?
Middle age (4-10 years) dogs are most at risk. Slow developing signs include: lethargy, mental depression, exercise intolerance, increased sleeping, personality changes, unexplained weight gain, heat seeking, thin coat or hair loss are the more noticeable changes. Your veterinarian will be able to give you an indication as to whether your pet may or may not have hypothyroidism by a thorough physical examination and some simple blood tests. For test results that are borderline, additional laboratory testing may be needed. Besides low blood thyroid levels, elevated cholesterol levels, and a very mild anemia may be present.
What can I do about Hypothyroidism?
By providing your dog with a thyroid supplement in the form of a tablet, you can help maintain a normal thyroid level and slow the symptoms noted above. It will take at least a month to get the body levels of thyroid up and to start to notice changes. Rechecking the blood thyroid levels is needed to ensure appropriate supplementation and avoid over or under treating. Supplementation is needed for the life of the pet. Once treated, life expectancy and quality of life are great.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Hypothyroidism?
In the rare cases of dietary Iodine deficiency, ensuring sufficient iodine in the diet may be helpful. Cortisone, illness and malnutrition will also decrease thyroid levels. Otherwise, there is nothing that can be done in a preventive fashion except for careful breed selection.
Are there certain breeds that get Hypothyroidism more often?
There is no proven mode of genetic transmission but the breed predilections indicate probable genetic factors. Breeds most frequently noted: Airedale, boxer, cocker spaniel, dachshund, Doberman pinscher, Golden retriever, Great Dane, Irish setter, miniature schnauzer, Old English sheepdog, Pomeranian, poodle, Shetland sheepdog, among others.