Hypothyroidism and How To Treat It

What Is Hypothyroidism?

Has your dog been unusually exhausted, gaining weight, or having issues with their skin? If so, your furry friend may have a common thyroid disorder called hypothyroidism. What is hypothyroidism? Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive. The thyroid is located in the neck and is part of the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating metabolism and other bodily functions. While hypothyroidism is not curable, there are many effective treatments. City By The Sea Veterinary Hospital in Asbury Park, NJ, provides pets with safe and reliable hypothyroidism treatments. Learn more about hypothyroidism and the ways to treat it.

Signs of Hypothyroidism in Dogs

When your canine’s metabolism slows down, you may notice many signs of hypothyroidism. Some are pretty obvious, such as lethargy and fatigue. Others may be less noticeable, such as dark skin spots under their fur. Some common hypothyroidism symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • Reduced energy
  • Dry and dull hair
  • More skin and ear infections
  • Getting cold more easily
  • Thinning hair
  • Reduced willingness to be active

What Causes Hypothyroidism in Dogs?

Two disorders commonly result in hypothyroidism: lymphocytic thyroiditis and idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy. Idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy is the most common culprit. This occurs when the dog’s immune system begins to attack the thyroid. The reasons for this happening are unclear. We do know that most forms of hypothyroidism are hereditary. So, if your pet has a family history of thyroid problems, it is a good idea to be on the lookout.

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Before providing hypothyroidism treatment, a veterinarian will want to perform the right testing to ensure they have the correct diagnosis. Two tests are typically used to confirm a hypothyroidism diagnosis. First is the Total Thyroxin (TT4) screening. This bloodwork will measure the levels of thyroid hormones. If that is high, it does not necessarily mean that your dog has hypothyroidism. However, it often prompts a veterinarian to perform a follow-up test to confirm the diagnosis. The “Free T4 by Equilibrium Dialysis” (Free T4 ED) is the most accurate measurement of thyroxine in a dog’s body. If this test reveals low levels of thyroid hormones, then your dog will receive a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

Risk Factors for Canine Hypothyroidism 

Some factors may predispose your furry family member toward hypothyroidism. Thyroid problems tend to plague dogs of certain breeds and dogs of certain ages. Some of the risk factors for hypothyroidism in dogs are:

  • Middle-aged and older dogs
  • Middle-sized and large-sized dogs
  • Family history of thyroid disorders
  • High-risk breeds, such as Great Danes, golden retrievers, boxers, and dachshunds

How to Treat Hypothyroidism in a Dog

While there is no cure for hypothyroidism, there are highly effective treatments that can help your dog live a long and happy life. Most treatments for hypothyroidism involve the oral administration of thyroid replacement hormones via medication. Drugs like levothyroxine offer synthetic thyroid hormones. These hormones help compensate for the deficit caused by your pet’s underactive thyroid.

What Happens If Hypothyroidism Goes Untreated?

Hypothyroidism treatments are so effective that there is no reason to let an underactive thyroid go untreated. If your pet does not receive hypothyroidism medication, it can suffer further problems. All of the symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs will get worse and worse. Skin infections, ear problems, and lethargy will all become more severe. Dogs will eventually suffer from heart problems, high cholesterol, and changes to the surface of their eyes. In the most severe (and rare) cases, pets can experience a myxedema coma.

The Best Diet for Dogs with Hypothyroidism

When planning the diet for a dog with hypothyroidism, it is essential to provide them with a balanced diet. As pets gain weight related to their changing metabolism, owners are often tempted to feed them less. This shouldn’t be done unless directed by your vet, as it can result in nutrient deficiencies. Some nutrients to keep an eye on include amino acids, iodine, probiotics, and antioxidants.

Can You Prevent a Dog from Getting Hypothyroidism?

You cannot do much to prevent your dog from developing hypothyroidism. If they are genetically predisposed to this disorder, the best thing you can do is keep them in good health and catch it early. This means regularly visiting a veterinarian to monitor their thyroid levels. On top of that, keeping up with your dog’s exercise regimen and hygiene tasks will improve its overall health.

Schedule an Appointment with City By The Sea Veterinary Hospital!

If your dog has been exhibiting some signs of an underactive thyroid, the friendly vets at City By The Sea Veterinary Hospital are here to help. Whether you are a permanent resident or just visiting Asbury Park for the summer, we are here to help you understand your canine’s health and take steps to improve it. Schedule your hypothyroidism appointment now!