They say that dogs are man’s best friend, and for many pet owners that is certainly the case. The veterinarians and staff at BluePearl Veterinary Partners want pets to feel well and be healthy so that you can be together for as long as possible.
A change in your dog’s behavior may signal that something is wrong. Trust your instincts and take your dog to your family veterinarian if you suspect a problem. One condition your veterinarian may check for is dog hypothyroidism, a condition that affects many dogs. Without treatment, your pet’s quality of life can diminish significantly.
The Basics of Hypothyroidism
The thyroid glands are organs located on both sides of your dog’s neck. The glands produce a hormone that regulates a dog’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid glands do not secrete enough of the thyroid hormone, throxine, needed to regulate a dog’s metabolism. Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to thyroid disorders.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism typically results when the gland ceases to produce an adequate amount of the thyroid hormone. With autoimmune thyroiditis, your dog’s immune system attacks the tissues of the thyroid. The thyroid then tries to produce more throxine, but eventually the thyroid will run out of the hormone.
Another cause of hypothyroidism occurs more slowly than autoimmune disease, with a gradual loss of throxine. When this occurs, your pooch’s thyroid will slowly produce less of the hormone needed to complete normal biological processes. Changes will happen more slowly, and symptoms may not be obvious to you until the disease has progressed.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
There are several symptoms that may suggest dog hypothyroidism. These include
- Lack of energy
- Depression or other behavioral changes
- Frequent napping
- Unexplained weight gain
- Changes in the skin, such as discoloration, dryness or hair loss
- Slow heart rate
- Low tolerance of cold
- Chronic infections
Development of Hypothyroidism
Whether or not your dog will develop hypothyroidism depends on many factors. Some medications, lack of exercise, or exposure to toxins are known to cause hypothyroidism.
Male and female dogs have about the same chances of developing the condition, but in general, small breeds of dogs are less likely to have the condition. There are several medium to large breeds that are genetically predisposed by hypothyroidism:
- Cocker spaniels
- Airedale terriers
- Irish setters
- Golden and Labrador retrievers
- Doberman pinschers
Prevention is always preferable when possible. To do this, veterinarians encourage a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. But if that is not prevent the disorder, treatment is available to return your pet’s thyroid levels to where they should be. Tests are required to diagnose hypothyroidism, but if your dog is diagnosed, chances are he will be started on a synthetic thyroid medicationor perhaps a natural thyroid replacement, depending on the type and severity of the condition.
Treating your dog’s hypothyroidism is important if you want your pet to be healthy and comfortable for the remainder of his or her life. Contact your family veterinarian to schedule an appointment if you notice any of the typical symptoms of a thyroid problem. We want to ensure that your dog is happy and healthy just as much as you do.