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For the love of you pet: Treating thyroid problems in dogs

By John Beck
Sept. 13, 2012 at 4:13 a.m.


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 pets even have hair loss on both sides of their bodies 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, 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 4 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 drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.

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