Our dogs share a lot of common ailments with us, and one of them is hypothyroidism. Most of us are familiar with “thyroid problems,” in that we hear the phrase spoken around us. But if you do not understand the disease and the symptoms, it’s possible your own dog could be suffering from it and you would not even know.
What it is.
Hypothyroidism is an endocrine disorder that is caused when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones (specifically T3 levothyroxine and T4 levothyroxine). (www.petmd.com) The
disease is easily treated, but because the symptoms are so wide spread, many pet owners do not think about checking it until all other possibilities are ruled out. If left untreated, it can lead to Cushing’s disease, another endocrine disorder affecting the pituitary gland.
- Lethargy, Inactivity, Mental dullness
- Weight gain
- Mental dullness
- Reduced heart rate
- Hair Loss
- Excessive shedding
- Poor hair growth/quality
- Body weakness
- Reoccurring skin infections
- Changes in skin pigmentation
- Intolerance to cold
If your dog is only exhibiting the milder symptoms, you may attribute the problems to poor diet, boredom, personality, etc. For example if your dog just seems lethargic and “dull,” you might think that your dog is bored or not very bright. It may never cross your mind that something is wrong with them physically.
Veterinarians are not a hundred percent sure what causes Hypothyroidism. It may be linked to an autoimmune disorder, cancer, congenital disease, iodine deficiency, or an after-effect of a medical treatment (like surgery) (www.petmd.com).
Who’s At Risk
While any breed, sex, and age of dog can have hypothyroidism, there are some that are more at risk than others.
- Golden Retriever
- Airdale Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Irish Setters
- Great Danes
- Old English Sheepdog
Aside from these breeds, dogs between the ages of 4-10 years are more prone, as are altered dogs. If you suspect your dog may have hypothyroidism, take them to the vet for a urinalysis and complete blood work. These tests will determine if your dog is not producing enough hormones.
If your dog does suffer from hypothyroidism, the disease is easily treated with a daily pill containing replacement hormones. The good news is that once the hormones are in your dog’s system, they will most likely live a normal, healthy life. (www.vetinfo.com)
About the Author
Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.