Hypothyroidism is a common ailment that affects dogs. The thyroid gland has a lot of different functions, but likely the single most important function is the regulation of metabolism through hormones. Hypothyroidism in dogs is basically when the thyroid is not producing enough of these hormones to get the job done. It can cause a variety of different symptoms, but weight loss and weight gain are the most prevalent signs.
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Causes of Hypothyroidism in Dogs
The thyroid gland is situated very close to the voice box, which is found in the neck/throat area. The pituitary gland, located in the brain, sends signals that tell the thyroid to produce hormones. When the production and secretion of the thyroid hormones is impaired, it can lead to hypothyroidism. Typically, it is a result of damage done to the thyroid by the immune system. Cancer and other tissue conditions can also be an underlying cause. Certain medications and underlying conditions may also play a part.
Which Dogs are More Prone to Hypothyroidism?
The onset of hypothyroidism in dogs is typically not very predictable, as it can vary a lot from one dog to the other. Typically, however, middle aged dogs between 4 and 10 years old are more likely to develop this condition. It also typically affects larger breed dogs more than it does small and toy breeds.
Here are a few breeds that seem to be more prone to this disease:
- Golden Retrievers
- Irish Setters
- Doberman Pinschers
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Cocker Spaniels
Diagnosing Hypothyroidism in Dogs
If you suspect that your dog has hypothyroidism, then it is something you want to talk to your vet about. There are a few different tests that can be used to diagnose the condition. Depending on your dog’s symptoms, your vet will be able to recommend the best test. The most common test, however, is the baseline T4 test. This is a simple blood test that determines the level of thyroid hormone in their blood. If this test comes back positive, they may need to look into other panels just to be sure. This is because there are other conditions that may affect the level of thyroid hormone in the blood.
Here are some of the other, less common tests that your vet may recommend:
Talk to your vet about the best method of testing for your pup.
Treating Hypothyroidism in Dogs
If your dog has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it is important to start treatment right away. It is a fairly easy condition to treat. Treatment typically just consists of a prescription of synthetic hormone that they will take every day. There are a lot of different brand names and generic versions of this drug, and your vet will likely be able to give you the best recommendation to meet your dog’s needs and your budgeting needs. Typically, the dose and the frequency that you administer the medication will depend on the severity of the condition and your dog’s age and weight. They will typically be placed on the standard dosage for their weight range at first, and then you will need to take them in for blood work to make sure that the levels are where they need to be. The veterinarian will be able to adjust the dosage according to their specific requirements.
The good news is that once you get started on the treatment, you will likely see most of the symptoms start to go away. It is really important that you understand that once you have a diagnosis for hypothyroidism, your dog will need to be on the hormone therapy for the rest of their life.
Recognizing the signs of hypothyroidism in dogs is important. It is the only way that you can ensure that your dog gets the proper treatment that they need. If you are staying on a schedule with your veterinarian for well checkups, you will definitely be at an advantage when it comes to catching it early and allowing your dog to have a full recovery.