Thyroid Problems in Dogs and Cats

September 10, 2015

thyroid rekre89By Langley Cornwell

As a responsible pet owner, there are many health issues dogs and cats may experience that you should be aware of. In fact, being a pet owner often means learning about things you had no idea even existed. Each species has specific health conditions that affect them, and then there are several that can afflict both cats and dogs. One of these conditions is thyroid problems.

Both dogs and cats can have problems with their thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces the hormone that controls metabolism. Cats tend to have hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) while dogs often suffer from hypothyroidism (too little hormone).

How to Know if Your Pet Has a Thyroid Problem

If you notice your dog or cat is acting either extra sluggish or extremely active—as compared to their normal behavior — or is gaining or losing weight, you will want to call your vet and discuss this. It’s important, because if left untreated, thyroid issues may have a detrimental effect on your pet’s quality of life. The symptoms of thyroid problems, if left untreated, can lead to other conditions and can even eventually be fatal.

Cats tend to develop hyperthyroidism later in life, usually after 10 years of age. In dogs, hypothyroidism usually develops between the ages of 4 to 10.While these are the typical ages, they are only the averages. Be aware that thyroid gland problems can develop at any age in both species of animals.

Symptoms to Look For

Sadly, many of the symptoms of abnormal thyroid levels don’t present themselves until 70% of the thyroid gland function has been impaired. These include weight gain (hypothyroidism), weight loss (hyperthyroidism), cold intolerance, hyper-excitability, laziness, chronic skin disease and poor coat. That’s why it’s so important to get any abrupt changes to your animal’s behavior examined by a professional immediately.

Other signs that your pet may have hypo or hyperthyroidism include:

• Mood swings
• Increased or decreased appetite
• Seizures
• Aggression
• Infertility
• Skin odor
• Weak, dying or stillborn puppies or kittens

How to Reduce the Chance of Thyroid Problems

thyroid floraFeed your dog or cat a nutritious, premium quality pet food like the CANIDAE Grain Free PURE formulas. Avoid over-vaccinating, and keep your pet away from pesticides and herbicides. Other than these healthy precautions, there’s no real way to actually prevent thyroid gland problems in your dog or your cat.

What you can do is keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior and have the vet perform tests on the thyroid if any of the symptoms appear.  Once your vet has conducted thyroid testing, there are medications for both dogs and cats to treat thyroid problems. With the proper care and attention, neither hypo nor hyperthyroidism has to affect your pet’s quality of life.

While no loving pet owner likes to think of their animal suffering from a medical condition, it is always good to be aware and be proactive any time you have a concern. Even if you think you are overreacting to a slight problem, it’s best to speak to your vet.  If there are thyroid problems, your vet will advise you on how to best treat your pet. If there aren’t, then at least you’ve eased your mind and the vet will be able to determine what is causing the symptoms you’ve noticed.

Top photo by rekre89/Flickr
Bottom photo by Flóra Soós/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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