Thyroid Disease

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Thyroid disease is a very common problem in aging pets.  The thyroid glad, located under the skin at the center of the neck, produces thyroid hormone which serves two purposes.  One is to maintain the body’s internal temperature.  The second is to regulate the pet’s metabolism.


Cats typically become Hyperthyroid, meaning that the gland is producing too much hormone.  This happens when a lobe of the thyroid glands becomes enlarged, leading to an increase in the production of the thyroid hormones.  In the majority of these cases, the enlargement is benign.


Symptoms you may see with Hyperthyroid cats include: increased drinking, increased urinations, increased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, increased restlessness or irritability, increased vocalizations, a rapid heart rate, and an unkempt hair coat.  Not all cats will show every one of these symptoms.  Many of these symptoms could be indicative of other illnesses, so a proper diagnosis with a thorough exam and bloodwork is necessary.


Left untreated, hyperthyroid cats may suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, emaciation, muscle wasting, or severe metabolic dysfunction.


Treatment for hyperthyroid cats is usually a daily medication.  This may be in pill or liquid form, or even a transdermal gel you rub on the ear.  Medication is given once or twice daily as directed by your veterinarian.  Another newer option for hyperthyroid cats is Hill’s Prescription Diet Y/D, formulated with limited dietary iodine in the food to reduce the body’s production of the thyroid hormone.  Sometimes medication may be needed initially to lower the thyroid hormone, but many hyperthyroid cats can be managed on the Y/D diet alone.


Dogs with thyroid disease are usually Hypothryoid, which means the gland function has decreased and there isn’t enough thyroid hormone in the body.  This is usually an idiopathic disease, meaning there’s no biological reason for it to happen.


Hypothyroid dogs typically have one or more of the following symptoms: Lethargy, weight gain, hair loss, dry or scaly skin, dull brittle hair, and seeking out warm areas.  As with cats, thyroid problems in dogs are diagnosed with a thorough exam and bloodwork as symptoms mirror those of other illnesses.


Treatment for dogs is an oral medication usually given twice a day.


Once diagnosed and a treatment plan begins, cats and dogs with thyroid disease will have bloodwork re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks to be sure the dose is effective.  Thereafter, bloodwork is generally required every 6-12 months depending on the patient.


Thyroid disease is a common, usually inexpensive problem to treat (in relation to other health issues).  Suburban Animal Clinic recommends senior bloodwork which includes a thyroid test annually.  The earlier thyroid disease is detected and treated, the quicker the patient will respond to treatment with a decrease in symptoms and over improvement in his/her health.