What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid problem that is very common in dogs, and but seldom occurs in cats. Hypothyroidism is due to an underactive thyroid gland and not enough thyroid hormone is produced, thereby slowing everything down.
The common symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight gain/obesity
- Lethargy/low energy levels
- Dry skin or hair loss
- Slow heart rate
- Intolerance to cold
- High blood cholesterol
Behavioral changes may also occur and include anxiety and depression, as well as hyperactivity, being unfocused or passive.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
The exact cause is unknown but it may be caused by an auto-immune response in which the dog’s own immune system kills cells of the thyroid gland. Dogs that usually suffer from recurring skin problems have hypothyroidism.
Certain dog breeds seem to be more predisposed to hypothyroidism than others. This disorder typically affects mid to large size breeds such as Dobermans, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels and Airedale Terriers.
It develops in dogs between the ages of 4 and 10 years old. Female unspayed dogs tend to be affected more, although it occurs in both males and females. There is no cure for hypothyroidism but with treatment, pets can continue to enjoy good quality of life.
The diagnosis of a hypothyroidism is based on the symptoms, thorough physical examination and review of your pet’s medical history. Certain tests such as a Baseline T4 Test, Baseline T3 Test, or TSH Stimulation Test will be performed if hypothyroidism is suspected. Your vet will choose the test most suited for your dog’s symptoms. Generally, the TSH Stimulation Test will reveal whether your dog has a low T4 or T3 level.
Help for Hypothyroidism
Treatment of hypothyroidism in dogs involves a daily dose of synthetic T4 hormone known as thyroxine (levothyroxine). Thereafter, follow-up blood tests will be taken in about six weeks to ascertain whether there is any improvement. This is life-long therapy but dogs usually go on to enjoy good health for the rest of their lives.
Natural and holistic treatments offer a gentler alternative to conventional medications without being addictive. There are many herbs that are safe and effective to use and addresses the major symptoms of thyroid disorders in pets. Carefully selected herbal ingredients such as Huang Qi, Kelp, Siberian Ginseng and Urtica urens helps to improve thyroid functioning and symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.
More Information on Hypothyroidism
Tips to prevent thyroid problems
Although hypothyroidism cannot be prevented, there are certain things that you can do to ease symptoms and improve overall health and these include:
- Feed your pet a natural, raw and well balanced diet that contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
- Incorporate small amounts of kelp to prevent deficiencies in thyroid health
- Ensure that your pet gets regular exercise
- Boost your dog or cat’s immune system with immune-boosting supplements
- Take your pet to the vet for annual check-ups and monitor any abnormal physical and behavioral changes
- If your pet suffers from a thyroid problem, become as knowledgeable as possible about this health problem