Also called Hypothyroidism in Dogs.
An essential gland of the body, the thyroid gland produces a number of hormones including T3 (liothyronine) and T4 (levothyroxine). Both of which are an essential requirement for normal metabolism within the body.
Hypothyroidism results from the lowered production and release of the T4 and T3 hormones from the thyroid gland. This is a condition that is commonly found in medium to large-sized dogs. Some dog breeds are more predisposed to this condition than others. The breeds most commonly affected by this condition are Doberman Pinschers, Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Old English Sheepdogs, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Boxers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Dachshunds. Also, dogs between the ages of 4 and 10 years of age are also commonly diagnosed with this condition. Dogs that have been fixed also tend to be high risk candidates of this condition.
Symptoms of Thyroid Hormone Deficiency in Dogs
There are many symptoms of Thyroid Hormone Deficiency in Dogs. The most common of these are:
- Generalized weakness
- Mental dullness
- Unexplained weight gain
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Excessive hair shedding
- Poor hair growth
- Dry or lusterless hair coat
- Excessive scaling
- Recurring skin infections
- Intolerance to cold
- Tilting of head to one side (uncommon)
- Seizures (uncommon)
- Infertility (uncommon)
What Causes Thyroid Hormone Deficiency In Dogs?
There can be many causes for this condition. The most common causes are:
- Unknown etiology (origin)
- Congenital disease
- Iodine deficiency
- After-effect of medical treatment, including surgery
Diagnosing Thyroid Hormone Deficiency In Dogs
The initial stages of diagnosing this condition involve a complete physical examination of the patient by a veterinarian. He or she will take into account the animal's background history of the symptoms and any environmental or incidental conditions that may have precipitated this condition. It is up to you, the pet owner, to provide the veterinarian with a complete and thorough history of the animal's health leading up to the first time you noticed the symptoms.
Your veterinarian might have to do a multitude of test and examinations to determine the exact cause of hypothyroidism. This usually include routine laboratory test that will include a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis.
Your veterinarian may be able to provide a basic and initial diagnosis based on the results of the initial test. However, most veterinarians will also require the patient to submit to an endocrine test to complete the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. This last test measures the levels of the T3 and T4 hormones to determine if they are low. Some veterinarians also perform specific radiographic studies (X-rays) to look for internal abnormalities that may cause the thyroid glands to malfunction.
Treating the Condition
There are many good treatment options available for hypothyroidism. These treatments, however, usually last for the life of the dog. The medication given must be administered carefully. And the dog will have to put up with a strict diet to properly manage this disease.
In addition to the initial treatment the animal will also need to take synthetic T3 and T4 hormones. This is usually added to the animal's food. The dosage of these synthetic hormones will vary throughout the treatment based on the animal's general health, and physical condition.
You should see an improvement within a few months. However, you should not adjust the animal's medication yourself. Leave this up to your veterinarian. If not, your dog could end up worse off than when it was first diagnosed.
Living With Hypothyroidism
Successful therapy depends on a conscientious compliance with the prescribed drugs as well as maintaining the diet prescribed by your veterinarian or veterinarian dietician. The medication will occasionally be adjusted by your veterinarian. He will also monitor the usefulness of the medication as some dogs don't react to the initial meds given and have to be changed over to another medication.
It is important with this condition that you do not alter the medication or diet that is prescribed. This includes adding herbal remedies as they could seriously complicate the condition and may even cause death. Before doing anything you must consult with your veterinarian. Most dogs will respond very well to the therapy as prescribed.
An important factor in treating this condition is diet. The dog will require a diet that is low in fat at the beginning of the therapy. Again, you should not alter the diet without first consulting your veterinarian.