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Hypothyroidism in Dogs

The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland, found in a dog’s neck.



This small gland secretes certain hormones which are essential for the development of the body. The hormones secreted by the thyroid gland control the body’s metabolic rate, as well as the usage of oxygen and calcium by the cells. If the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient quantities of hormones, the dog is said to suffer from hypothyroidism, and this can cause many dog health problems.

Just as with humans, hypothyroidism in dogs is quite a common endocrine (hormonal) disorder.



It usually affects middle aged or elderly dogs, or those which have undergone castration. Hypothyroid dogs tend to be overweight and inactive.
Hypothyroidism is one of the common dog thyroid problems. It is the opposite of hyperthyroidism, which means production of excess hormones.

Hypothyroidism in Dogs Symptoms


It is not always easy to detect hypothyroid disorders in your pet, because many of the symptoms are quite similar to those from other diseases.

 

  • One of the noticeable symptoms is that your pet dog may start shedding more hair, because of a lack of sufficient thyroid.



    The hair grows back in uneven patches. The new hair which grows back is scruffy, flaky and dull. The skin also becomes sensitive, and they are easily affected by allergens. The toenails may become weak and break off.
  • Female dogs suffering from hypothyroidism become infertile, while male dogs have decreased mating urges and lower sperm levels.
  • Such dogs also tend to become sluggish and inactive, and gain weight. They may become fat, even though their food intake does not increase.
Causes: Vets have still not yet been able to pinpoint dog hypothyroidism causes. Many of them feel that it happens to dogs with weakened endocrine systems. Sometimes it happens when the thyroid glands atrophy. Some vets feel that it is genetic, and certain breeds like Labradors, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Doberman Pinschers and Cocker Spaniels are more prone to hypothyroidism.

Treatment: Before you start with any dog thyroid treatments, your vet will usually ask for a blood test to be done, in order to confirm the condition. The treatment is very simple. Your vet will prescribe Thyroxine (T4). This is a replacement for the thyroid hormone, and is available in the form of a pill. Depending upon the extent of hypothyroidism, your dog may have to take the pill once or twice a day. Results are very quick, and in a few days you will find your dog losing weight and becoming full of energy again, while the skin and hair also become glossy and healthy.
 
  Submitted on May 27, 2010