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Hypothyroidism in dogs


The thyroid gland is a paired gland found on either side of the trachea (wind pipe). The thyroid gland produces two types of hormones. Hypothyroidism is a disease caused by insufficient levels of these hormones.{{more}}

This condition is relatively common in dogs but rarely occurs in cats.

The thyroid gland has a number of different functions, but it is well known for its role in regulating metabolism.

The condition usually appears in dogs over two years of age, especially in middle-aged and older dogs. Mid to large breed dogs tend to be at increased risk. Golden retrievers, Dobermans, Irish Setters, Dachshunds, Cocker spaniels are some of the more commonly affected breeds. German Shepherds and mixed breeds appear to be at a reduced risk of contracting the disease.

Signs of an underactive thyroid gland include some or all of the following:

1. Changes in your dog’s hair and skin. Dogs need an adequate level of thyroid hormone to maintain normal skin and hair. When hormone levels are low, hair grows very slowly particularly over the lumbar area equally on both sides. The back of the rear legs is also commonly balding. The dog’s hair is often scruffy, flaky and dull. The coat often lacks finer body hairs and the undercoat. Your pet’s tail may become as bald as a rat’s tail. An important clue pointing to thyroid deficiency is that this hair loss is not itchy as would be if the dog had fleas, allergic skin or mange.

Hypothyroid dogs commonly have excess black pigment in the skin of their groin. Sometimes this pigment is present over the body and the skin becomes oily and thickened. Broken toenails and toenail infections are common in hypothyroidism. Your pet’s hair coat colour may change.

2. Female dogs with hypothyroidism often have irregular heat cycles and fail to get pregnant, have small litters or miscarry.

3. Males may have shrinkage of testes leading to decreased sperm levels and show less interest in females.

4. Other signs include: increased sleeping, weight gain or obesity premature graying of muzzle. The face may appear puffy.

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by a blood test, testing T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones) levels.

This condition is controlled by hormone replacement; it is not cured. Replacement therapy must be given for your pet’s entire life and may need to be adjusted from time to time. You may need to place your dog on a diet to help shed those unwanted pounds.

As the disease is controlled, you may notice increased activity. This will in turn help to control your pet’s weight.

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd. Tel: 456 4981