Whether human or dog: If the thyroid gland does not work, it slows down the entire metabolism. The symptoms of underactive develop insidiously so that some dog owners do not notice the changes until late. Read here the most important things about hypothyroidism in dogs.
What is an Underactive Thyroid in Dogs?
The thyroid is located on either side of the dog’s neck. It forms hormones that play a central role in metabolism. When the thyroid is not doing its job well enough, experts speak of hypothyroidism, as it does in humans.
Autoimmune, pathological reactions of the body lead to the destruction of the thyroid. As a result, there is a deficiency in the thyroid hormone thyroxine t4. There is also the opposite effect, too many thyroid hormones. Experts then speak of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) in dogs.
Causes of Hypothyroidism in Dogs: Diet?
Any dog can suffer from an underactive thyroid. However, neutered middle-aged and large breeds are most likely to be affected. Dachshunds are an exception among the small breeds.
The following breeds are more commonly affected:
- Airedale Terrier
- Irish setter
- Cocker spaniel
- Doberman Pinscher
- Border collie
- Golden retriever
- German shepherd dog
Hypothyroidism in dogs is 95 percent due to autoimmune inflammation or organ damage for no apparent cause. In rare cases, tumors cause a thyroid disorder.
In the past, an undersupply of iodine was the cause of hypothyroidism in dogs in some cases. Commercial food completely covers the iodine supply of four-legged friends today. Anyone who barges should check whether there is enough iodine in their food.
It is usually not possible to prevent thyroiditis in dogs.
Hypothyroidism Dog: Recognizing Symptoms
An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) slowly but surely reduces the dog’s metabolism. That is why the four-legged friend appears calmer overall or gains weight faster. Many dog owners initially interpret this as “better behavior” or see this as the effect of neutering. Because especially neutered dogs of both sexes suffer from an underactive thyroid.
However, if your dog is more than four years old and of a larger breed, you should pay attention if you observe the following symptoms in him:
- The dog appears calmer and has less drive every day.
- Cold affects four-legged friends more than it used to.
- Despite the same rations, there are more pounds on the dog’s ribs.
- The four-legged friend has a different, “sad” facial expression.
- The dog gets flaky skin.
- The immune defense is weakened. That is why the four-legged friend is prone to infections.
- Hair loss is particularly evident on the neck, tail, and bridge of the nose.
- Behavioral changes such as anxiety or aggression can occur.
In the advanced stages of hypothyroidism, affected dogs may show additional symptoms:
- Neurological failures: paralysis, nerve twitching.
- Heart problems such as irregular heartbeat.
The few uncastrated animals that suffer from hypothyroidism can lead to fertility problems: females do not come into heat, and males can no longer produce offspring.
Diagnosis at the Veterinarian
The vet can diagnose hypothyroidism with special blood tests. To do this, he examines the thyroid hormones in the blood or initiates a TSH stimulation test. Some breeds like gray and deerhounds naturally have lower thyroid levels.
Certain antibodies in the blood can also play a role in the diagnosis. Because the thyroid hormones are closely intertwined with other processes in the dog’s body.
Medical conditions or medication can temporarily limit the function of the thyroid gland and lead to incorrect results.
This is why hypothyroidism is a disease that is often overlooked on the one hand and easily “overdiagnosed” on the other. So you can look forward to the doctor’s thorough investigation and extensive laboratory blood tests.
If another cause of the symptoms is suspected, imaging tests such as X-rays or ultrasound can be used. In the rarest of cases, for example, tumors are responsible for an underactive thyroid.
Treating Hypothyroidism in Dogs: Tablets
Once the diagnosis has been made, lifelong therapy is necessary in most cases. Because the damaged thyroid tissue is irretrievably lost. Once the medication has been stopped, the treatment is straightforward:
The dogs need a dose of thyroxine in tablet form twice a day.
The correct setting may require a little patience and some veterinary check-ups. But the effort is worth it, because: With the right dose, affected dogs can live to old age without impairing their quality of life.
After eight to twelve weeks at the latest, the symptoms of hypothyroidism will completely recede after the drug has been successfully discontinued.
Hypothyroidism in Dogs: Costs
The veterinary costs vary depending on the fee rate and the overall constitution of the animal. The diagnosis can cost around $200 to $300. This includes a thorough examination as well as special blood tests. If there is a suspicion of tumors or other diseases, it can be more expensive.
Once the diagnosis has been made, thyroid hormones are administered for life. Depending on the dose required, this costs around $30 to $40 per month for a medium-sized dog.
Close check-ups at the start of treatment enable the correct dose to be found quickly. Here again, $100 to $300 can be due within the first few months. A quarter to six-monthly check of the thyroid hormone level is then sufficient.
With a well-adjusted four-legged friend, the owner incurs additional costs of around $600 per year, including examinations.
Alternative Therapies Like Homeopathy
If the dog has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it is dependent on medication. Neither homeopathy nor any other diet can help here, because the thyroid gland is unable to supply the body with the necessary hormones.
If the four-legged friend suffers from skin infections, these should be treated at the beginning of therapy. For this, the vet recommends medical shampoos that have an antiseptic effect and at the same time care.
A diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids can be supportive. For example, depending on the dog’s weight, you can mix a teaspoon of linseed or safflower oil with the usual food of your four-legged friend. Discuss this with the attending veterinarian.
Left Untreated: Can an Underactive Thyroid Be Fatal?
An underactive thyroid significantly reduces the dog’s quality of life and should therefore be treated without exception. The possible long-term consequences include neurological disorders as well as heart problems.
Untreated hypothyroidism can therefore have fatal consequences in older or weakened animals.