For the love of you pet: Hyperthyroidism can be found in all dog breeds

Aug. 18, 2011 at 3:18 a.m.

By John Beck

I was reading online about dogs with thyroid problems, and it sounds a lot like my dog. How do you know if your dog actually has a thyroid problem, and what can be done about it if she does?

A dog with an underactive thyroid can have a whole host of problems. They typically have an appetite that cannot be soothed. No matter how much they eat, they usually want more. Because of this, they are usually overweight, but seem to be "starving" all the time. They can even begin to get fatty deposits throughout the body, sometimes, in odd places that they would not normally deposit fat. Frequent skin infections and ear infections can sometimes be an indicator of low thyroid. Sometimes patients even have hair loss on both sides of their body, making them look like they are balding around the ends of the ribcage. Some dogs don't have any physical signs, but will appear worn out all the time. A low thyroid is actually a generalized decrease in cellular metabolic activity.

To test for a lowered thyroid function, your veterinarian will have to draw some blood from your dog. Some vets can run a simple thyroid in their clinic, while others will send the blood off to a laboratory to be tested.

If the test does come back low for hypothyroidism, your pet will need to be placed on a supplement. This is usually a small pill or chewable tablet that is given twice a day, for life. Intermittent retesting is needed to make sure the strength of the supplement is sufficiently raising her thyroid levels, but not raising them too much.

Hyperthyroidism can be found in all dog breeds, but seems to be more prevalent in golden retrievers, Doberman pinchers, Irish setters, Great Danes, Airedale terriers, old English sheepdogs, dachshunds, miniature schnauzers, poodles and boxers. It usually becomes apparent around four to 10 years of age and isn't specific to males or females.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me or your local veterinarian.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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