Hypothyroidism in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

The thyroid glands are found in the neck and are responsible for making a hormone known as thyroxine, which controls the process of metabolism, that is, the conversion of food into fuel.

So, with hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of this hormone. Hypothyroidism is a common infection in dogs and affects all the breeds. However, some dog breeds are more susceptible to this disease in comparison to others, and this includes Irish setters, Doberman pinschers, golden retrievers, boxers, dachshunds and cocker spaniels.

It often occurs in middle-aged dogs, that is, dogs between the ages of four and ten for the medium to large dog breeds. Furthermore, spayed females, as well as neutered males, are more prone to get this disease, and vets still are uncertain as to why this is the case.

It is argued that some incidences of hypothyroidism, the immune system of your dog attacks the thyroid. Likewise, additionally, causes of this disease are the shrinking of the thyroid gland as well as the presence of a tumor in the thyroid. Nevertheless, irrespective of the cause, the treatments and symptoms are similar.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Dogs

The slowing down of the metabolic rate affects all the organs in the body. Therefore, if you think your dog has hypothyroidism, below are some of the symptoms you should look out for;

  • High blood cholesterol
  • Intolerance to cold
  • A slow heart rates
  • Hair coat that is very thin to almost bald
  • No desire to exercise and lethargy
  • Weight gain despite not showing any signs of an increased appetite
  • Dull, dry hair that sheds excessively
  • Hair failing to grow back after shaving or clipping
  • An increased occurrence and vulnerability of ear and skin infections
  • An increase in dark pigmentation in your dog’s skin

These are the most common symptoms you should look out for if you suspect your dog has hypothyroidism. However, other dogs do experience some abnormalities like;

  • Fat deposits collecting in the corners of your dog’s eyes
  • Infertility and loss of libido in intact males
  • The thickening of facial skin subsequently making your dog have a depressed facial expression
  • Dry eye caused by the lack of appropriate tear production
  • Infertility, lack of heat periods as well as miscarriages in female dogs
  • Abnormal nerve functions which cause lack of coordination, dragging of feet, non-painful lameness plus a head tilt

Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, hypothyroidism in dogs is among the most over-diagnosed infections. The reason this happens is because most illnesses mimic hypothyroidism, with some clinical signs or conditions showing improvement after thyroid medication has started being used.

Additionally, because other diseases too affect thyroid levels, it is vital to be prudent before concluding that your dog has hypothyroidism. Therefore, the diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be somewhat tricky, so you need to give your veterinarian sufficient time to carry out tests hence get to the root cause of the symptoms your dog is showing.

A screening test, known as total thyroxin (TT4) level, which is the most frequently used screening test, is an excellent method of detecting whether your dog has hypothyroidism.

It is a measurement of your dog’s blood sample of the man thyroid hormone, and low levels of total thyroxin together with other clinical signs, is an indication of hypothyroidism.

Nevertheless, to make a conclusive diagnosis, a thyroid panel or free T4 by equilibrium dialysis is done to assess the levels of the different types of thyroxin. Your dog is confirmed to have hypothyroidism if this test is low.

Usually, some pups having a normal free T4 by ED as well as low TT4, and this should not be taken as a sign that your dog has hypothyroidism. In such cases, additional tests need to be done with this dependent on the condition of your pet.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Hypothyroidism is treatable but not curable; therefore, your dog will have to take the prescribed medication throughout its entire life.

The most likely prescription the veterinarian will give your dog is that of thyroxine, which is a replacement of the hormone compound with its purpose being to offset the low thyroid function of your dog.

Usually, the dosage for hypothyroidism varies depending on the thyroid levels as well as the weight of your dog. Likewise, the veterinary may implement adjustments to your dog’s dosage whenever this is necessary, but after one or two months, you should wait to see results.

After determining a stable dosage for your dog, the veterinarian will now only require retesting the thyroid levels either once or twice annually and continue with the stable medication dose.

How Is the Appropriate Dosage Determined?

A standard dosage of thyroid replacement hormone is used on all dogs deepening on the weight of the dog. Subsequently, after a one-month treatment, your dog’s blood sample is acquired to confirm that the levels of the thyroid hormone are normal.

Typically, this blood sample is taken either four to six hours after the administration of this medication or before since it can cause a fluctuation in the hormone levels.

The dosage of this medication may require to be tweaked periodically over time because the tolerance of your pet to the thyroid replacement hormone might change as time passes. Thus, it is ideal that a retest of the thyroid hormone levels is done every six months.

Likewise, to safeguard that your dog is neither over-dosed or under-dosed, close communication between you and your veterinarian is essential. You also need always to monitor the condition of your dog and whenever any sign of hypothyroidism resurfaces, or you feel your pet is showing any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism discussed, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Should You When the Medication is Overdosed?

In case your dog has had an overdose this medication, signs of hypothyroidism will start to show. Some of these signs include lack of sleep, hyperactivity, increased water consumption as well as weight loss.

Therefore, because the thyroid gland is a very vital organ, the properly controlling hypothyroidism is extremely important.

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