The thyroid is an important gland located in your dog’s neck, close to the windpipe. Although its dimensions are quite small, it has a big role to play. The thyroid produces hormones that are used in many processes throughout the body, meaning that its ability to work properly is key to the health and wellbeing of our pets.
However, this important gland can sometimes stop functioning as it should, leading to thyroid problems in dogs and prompting owners to seek their vet’s help. One of the most common issues is called hypothyroidism and it can be quite concerning when owners start to notice the first symptoms in their pooches. Here is what you need to know about hypothyroidism in dogs and how you can support your pet if they’ve been diagnosed with this problem.
What is dog hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism in dogs refers to a health issue where abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid glands in a dog’s neck. The condition can affect multiple systems in the body that rely on sufficient levels of thyroid hormones to function normally. This thyroid problem is common in dogs, but fortunately it can be managed with special medication.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs?
The main consequence of hypothyroidism is that your dog’s metabolism will slow down, often to a point where you will notice changes in their behaviour and routine. The signs of hypothyroidism in dogs can vary from pet to pet, but here are the most common ones to look out for:
- Reduced activity
- Weight gain
- Hair loss (which is often symmetrical)
- Lack of interest in daily walks
- Feeling cold
- Skin issues
What causes hypothyroidism in dogs?
The most common causes of hypothyroidism include lymphocytic thyroiditis, a disorder where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, and idiopathic atrophy of the thyroid gland, which is a condition that is still poorly understood where normal thyroid tissue is replaced with fatty tissue. However, the symptoms and the treatment of canine hypothyroidism are normally similar regardless of the underlying cause behind this health issue.
Are certain dogs more predisposed to hypothyroidism?
It is thought that medium and large dog breeds are more susceptible to hypothyroidism, although the reason for this is unknown. It also seems to be more common in breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Dobermans, Cocker Spaniels and Dachshunds. However, if your pooch belongs to one of these breeds, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will end up at the vet with a hypothyroidism diagnosis. Regardless of breed, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for any signs that your dog’s metabolism is slowing down which can include weight gain and lethargy. If you do notice these signs, make sure you contact your vet for a consultation.
How is hypothyroidism in dogs diagnosed?
Diagnosing hypothyroidism can be difficult as there are many other health issues that can result in the same symptoms. In addition to this, low levels of thyroid hormone can be caused by diseases other than hypothyroidism. If your vet suspects hypothyroidism, they will likely test your dog’s blood to detect the level of thyroid hormones.
Based on these results, as well as other tests and your dog’s overall symptoms and history, the vet will be able to decide whether or not your dog is likely to have this condition.
Can hypothyroidism in dogs be treated?
Has your dog been diagnosed with hypothyroidism? Although this can be quite worrying for owners, the good news is that the condition can be managed so that your doggo lives a happy life. Your vet will often recommend oral medication which your dog will need to take for the rest of their life. This will help to boost the level of thyroid hormones so that they reach a normal level again.
It is important to follow your vet’s guidance and make sure your dog doesn’t miss their daily medication. Hypothyroidism in dogs is not a fatal disease, but the condition can have serious health consequences if left untreated.
Although the medication for dog hypothyroidism starts working straightaway, it can take a few weeks before you notice any visible improvements in your pet’s energy levels or the health of their coat. But, with a bit of patience and care, there are good chance you can help your four-legged friend to return to their normal energetic self again.
Did you know that loss of appetite and being lethargic can also be signs of several other conditions? They can even indicate that your dog is unhappy. Discover more about depression in dogs, the most common signs you to look out for and find out when it’s time to call your vet for help.