Canine hypothyroidism is a very common condition that is often overlooked. The diagnosis and treatment of this condition is straightforward and can make a dramatic difference in your dog’s health and well-being.
What are some common symptoms of canine hypothyroidism?
The classical symptoms such as lethargic behavior, weight gain and dry skin are not always present in every patient. Often patients have seizures or behavioral changes such as shyness, aggression or anxiety as the ONLY symptom. Other less common symptoms include bacterial skin infections, hair loss, chronic ear infections or cold intolerance. In some cases, there are no obvious symptoms at all.
How is it diagnosed?
A full thyroid panel for dogs should include T3, Free T3, T4, Free T4 and TGAA which tests for the auto-immune type of hypothyroidism. The dog’s age, breed and current health status may vary the values somewhat, so all of these parameters should be considered when interpreting the results. Blood levels should be checked frequently initially, then every 6-12 months for the life of the dog.
How is it treated?
Typically, we replace the diminished thyroid hormone with a synthetic version called levothyroxine. As long as the dosage is carefully monitored, this is a very safe medication for long term use. In our practice, we also consider combining nutrition, herbals or glandular therapy in order to attempt to decrease the amount of levothyroxine requirement.
Are there any alternatives to the traditional treatment?
It is very uncommon for dogs to be successfully managed without any levothyroxine. However, in our practice, we also consider combining nutrition, herbals or glandular therapy in order to attempt to decrease the amount of levothyroxine requirement.