Thyroid disease in dogs in the Lowcountry

Dogs in the Lowcountry can suffer from thyroid disease much like humans. The symptoms are often subtle and without proper testing it may be misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed.

The good news is that when it is detected it is usually very easy to treat with medication and the results are worth it.

What is the thyroid and what is thyroid disease?

The thyroid gland is the body’s thermostat. By releasing hormones it keeps the body at the right temperature. If it’s too hot it stops releasing the hormones and subsequently, if it’s too cold, it releases more. 

If any part of the thyroid system fails, dogs can begin to experience hypothyroidism. Primary hypothyroidism affects the thyroid gland itself. Primary hypothyroidism is not the most common, but has seen an increase in dogs. Some studies have shown that fluoride in many store bought foods is a contributor, replacing the iodine in the dog’s system and causing the breakdown of the hormones.

Autoimmune thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease is also a concern. With this disease, the body produces antibodies that destroy the cells of the thyroid. This in and of itself is not good, but the big issue is 80% of dogs with an autoimmune disease are at risk of developing another autoimmune disease.

Secondary hypothyroidism and tertiary hypothyroidism are rare in dogs but can also be an issue. Secondary hypothyroidism is generally caused by a tumor replacing healthy tissue in the system, usually the pituitary gland. Tertiary occurs when the hypothalamus fails. 

Symptoms of thyroid disease in dogs

Hypothyroidism is often overlooked because many of the symptoms are subtle. Weight gain is usually the first sign. Other symptoms are:

  • lethargy, hair loss
  • dry coat
  • excessive shedding
  • cold intolerance
  • exercise intolerance
  • low heart rate
  • high cholesterol
  • sudden behavioral changes such as increased aggression 
  • and anemia.

It may seem that your dog is just “in a mood” or you may shrug the symptoms off because you think you have been feeding them too much or you’ve changed their food. 

Finding out whether it’s hypothyroidism or a mood is generally a simple task, and while the symptoms may seem mild, untreated your dog can experience long term effects.

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism

A simple blood test, called a T4 panel, can determine if your dog has any issues with thyroid disease. 

Over 50 different breeds are predisposed to the problem and with those breeds, early testing is recommended. For any dog, the earlier the condition is detected, the sooner it can be controlled and monitored.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism in dogs

Regular testing will be part of your dog’s regime if they have thyroid disease, but there are a variety of treatments. From Vitamin D, to hormone replacement, the veterinary staff here know what the best course of action is. 

The tiny glands that make up the thyroid system are so important to dogs as well as humans. We often overlook their significance. Early detection, creating a treatment regime, and monitoring are key to making sure your dog has a long and healthy life.

To make an appointment for a comprehensive thyroid panel for your pet in the Lowcountry, give us a call at (843) 580-6209.