Hypothyroidism in dogs: Symptoms and Treatments
When the surprising diagnosis of hypothyroidism in the family dog comes across the desk of the family vet after a blood test, most dog owners leave the office feeling slightly shell-shocked.
What is surprising is that the symptoms of hypothyroidism have probably have been in the making for awhile, as most under-active thyroids are seen in dogs who have gained weight while having very little energy. Other symptoms are involved but are seen as variables unless clumped together.
Thyroid hormones are important in regulating the metabolism of individual cells in the dog’s body, produced in thyroid glands located on both sides of the animal’s windpipe trachea.
In addition to normal, metabolism rates can either be too high or too low. If it is too high, the dog will eat and eat yet lose weight rapidly. If it is too low, the overweight dog will eat very little yet gain weight rapidly while having very low energy levels.
Symptoms of under-active thyroids in dogs
The symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs varies with the dog. And on a one-to-one basis they do not mean as much as when several symptoms are seen together in the dog.
- Over 80% of dogs test for high blood cholesterol
- Over 70% of dogs show mental sluggishness and lethargy as a number one symptom
- Hair loss (65%)
- Obesity or a substantial gain in weight above normal (60%)
- Shedding of hair or excessive dry hair (60%)
- Dogs test for anemia (50%)
- A fewer percentage develop cold intolerance (15%); slow heart rate (10%); and hyper-pigmentation of the skin (25%).
Treatment for hypothyroidism in dogs
The treatment for hypothyroidism in dogs is not only inexpensive but easily treated with a pill[s] called thyroxine (levothyroxine) which is a synthetic thyroid hormone. A brand name could be Thyrosyn in .2 mg tablets with twice a day dosages. Each dosage will vary on how severe the disease is, in addition to how well the dog responds to it.
The initial standard dose will begin with the dog’s weight. After this, routine blood tests are taken periodically to see how it is working. The test results will decide if the drug dosage needs to be adjusted. Once treatment for hypothyroidism in dogs is begun, most of the symptoms will go away. However the dog will need to be on medication for life.
(This article is dedicated to Julie, one of our Miniature American Eskimos who lives in Pennsylvania with her owner, Frank. She has recently been diagnosed with an under-active thyroid.)