Hypothyroidism In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments

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Hypothyroidism in dogs is a disorder where the thyroid gland in the neck doesn’t secrete enough thyroxine, a hormone that controls metabolism. This means that a dog’s body is no longer able to convert food into fuel at an appropriate rate. Age, breed, lifestyle, and exposure to certain substances can all influence the onset of hypothyroidism in canines. Symptoms can range from lethargy and weight gain to seizures and heart problems. Though causes and symptoms may vary, treatment is often the same for dogs with the condition. If you see the signs of hypothyroidism in your dog, you should consult your veterinarian to find the best treatment options. Here is what you should know about hypothyroidism in dogs.

Causes Of Hypothyroidism In Dogs

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Hypothyroidism can affect any dog, though it is less common in smaller breeds and more common in several specific breeds that have a predisposition for developing the condition. This predisposition can be the cause of hypothyroidism in the following breeds.

  • Airedale Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Golden and Labrador Retrievers
  • Great Danes
  • Greyhounds
  • Irish Setters
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Poodles

German Shepherd Dogs and mixed breeds are usually less susceptible to hypothyroidism. Dogs that develop the condition typically do so around the ages of 4 to 10 years old. Breed is not the only factor that leads to hypothyroidism. Spayed females seem to develop the condition more than un-spayed females, though the reason for that is unclear. Here are a few other causes of the condition in dogs.

  • Immune disease (autoimmune thyroiditis)
  • Atrophy of thyroid tissue
  • Lack of exercise
  • Tumor on the thyroid
  • Exposure to medications such as steroids
  • Adrenal disorder

Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism In Dogs

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Hypothyroidism in dogs affects metabolism, which is necessary for all organs and the entire body to function. Because of this, the symptoms can be quite variable. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  • Depression or lethargy
  • Changes in behavior including aggression or anxiety
  • Head tilting
  • Hair loss and thin coat
  • Frequent naps and loss of interest in exercise
  • Dry, discolored, or infected skin
  • Weight gain, obesity, and muscle loss
  • Cold intolerance
  • Ear and toenail infections
  • Slow heart rate
  • Seizures
  • High cholesterol
  • Anemia

Treatments For Hypothyroidism In Dogs

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Hypothyroidism is treatable in dogs with daily oral drugs. This treatment is ongoing for the rest of life once the condition is diagnosed. While hypothyroidism isn’t necessary life-threatening, it can significantly decrease the quality of life for a dog who has it. The drug that is usually given to dogs with hypothyroidism is a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine or L-thyroxine, and it is fairly inexpensive.

Your veterinarian may wish to take preventative measures if thyroid hormone levels are low to stop the onset of full-blown hypothyroidism. They may prescribe thyroid glandulars and the cofactors–tyrosine and iodine–to try and bring thyroid hormone production back to normal. They will strictly monitor your dog’s blood for signs of progress. You may wish to consult a homeopathic veterinarian to discuss these options further.

Do you have a dog that suffers from hypothyroidism? How do you treat it?  Let us know in the comments below!