Explaining Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Old GSDHypothyroidism is a common hormone imbalance in dogs; it is usually caused by inflammation or shrinkage of the thyroid gland due to the decreased production of thyroid hormones T4 and T3. It is one of the most common endocrine diseases in older dogs.

Here are some of the most common questions pet owners have about Hypothyroidism in dogs.

What does the thyroid hormone do?

The thyroid hormone regulates the pet’s metabolic rate, and influences the function of other organs as well. That’s why some difficulty lies in diagnosing this disease, because it will have similar symptoms to other diseases.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs?

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs include, but are not limited to, lethargy, weight gain, exercise intolerance, hair loss/alopecia, changes in skin/hair, etc.

What breeds are most often affected?

Breeds predisposed to this issue include, but are not limited to, Beagles, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Dobermans, Irish Setters, and Old English Sheepdogs.

What age does hypothyroidism typically occur?

The average age of decreased thyroid hormone in dogs is seven years of age, with other causes (uncommon) occurring at younger ages. These other less common causes of thyroid disease include immune mediated, low TSH hormone, and cancer of the thyroid gland or pituitary gland.

How do you diagnose low thyroid hormone?

Due to hypothyroidism mimicking other possible diseases, routine organ function testing, as well as thyroid specific blood testing needs to be done to correctly diagnose low thyroid hormone.  The testing usually involves a simple blood draw, and a good portion of the blood work can be done in most clinics. If the thyroid screening in the clinic is low, further testing is then recommended and the blood is sent to the reference laboratory for confirmation.

How do we treat hypothyroidism?

There is no cure for hypothyroidism, but once confirmed, it is treated with a simple pill twice daily to supplement the low thyroid hormone.  This FDA approved medication, called levothyroxine, will then be given lifelong, and will need to be monitored regularly via bloodwork to ensure that the hormone level is therapeutic, and not too high or too low. Response to proper medication is usually seen in 4-8 weeks, but skin and hair issues may take months to resolve. Most dogs respond well to supplementation.

Contact Compassionate Animal Care Today

If you have any concerns about symptoms your dog is showing, please talk to your veterinarian. Call 480.774.6995 to schedule an appointment with Compassionate Animal Care today.

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