Hypothyroidism is the most common hormonal disorder encountered in dogs and it usually develops between the ages of 4-10. Normally, this disorder affects neutered and spayed dogs. A lot of breeds are affected by this disease, like golden retrievers, pinchers, English greyhounds, Irish setters, dachshunds, poodles, boxers and many more.
Here?s what you need to know about this disease. It?s a disorder of the thyroid gland, a butterfly shaped organ found in the neck, right under the larynx. This gland is responsible for the production and secretion of the thyroidal hormone called thyroxin, which influences almost all of the body?s systems. The thyroxin is responsible with the regulation of the metabolism, and the lack of this hormone determines it to slow down.
Hypothyroidism is usually caused by many factors. Idiopathic follicular atrophy is one of the causes, and it is a degeneration of the thyroid gland without the presence of an inflammation. The causes of this condition are unknown, but it can reflect the terminal stage of thyroiditis, which is the inflammation of the thyroid gland. Next there is the lymphocytic thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland that appears when the immune system attacks the gland by mistake. This disease is more common in breeds like English setter, boxer, Dalmatian, Brittany, and other pure breed dogs. Some other causes are also thyroid tumors, food shortage, dwarfism, some medications, and more.
What you should look at when suspecting your dog has hypothyroidism:
Although this disease has a variety of symptoms, some of them indicate the presence of other afflictions, thus making it mandatory that you go to the vet immediately. These symptoms most often include obesity, hair loss, dry fur, skin diseases or infections, otitis, lethargy or weight loss and some behavioral problems. You should also be on a look out for depression, constipation, diarrhea, infertility, effort intolerance, bradycardia, heart rate decrease or cold intolerance (when the dog searches for warm surfaces to lay down on).
Less common symptoms can be more complicated and may include vestibular dysfunction and other neurological diseases, heart conditions and many other different problems associated with obesity.
You should always pay attention to your dog when you notice a few changes in his behavior. It may be hypothyroidism, or it might be something else. Either way, a trip to the vet will only help.
You should know that this disease is not curable, but it?s treatable! There are prescription medications for the dog that include a synthetic hormone called T4, and for those that can?t convert the T4 hormone in T3, the doctor prescribes synthetic T3 hormones directly. The good news about this treatment is that there are no side effects associated with the administration of hormonal supplements. To spot out possible side effects or overdose, you should notice if your dog starts drinking a lot of water and urinates a lot, looks tired, has diarrhea, or his appetite grows.
You should know that beside the medications, your dog will need periodic blood tests. So next time you notice your dog gaining weight without reason, you know it?s time to take him to the vet.