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Symptoms of Dog Thyroid Problems

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Symptoms of Dog Thyroid Problems

The symptoms of dog thyroid problems (hypothyroidism) are hard to miss, but they are also very similar to problems associated with other medications, illnesses, and environmental conditions. If your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, he or she may be hypothyroid:

  • Depression
  • Weight gain with a loss of appetite
  • Dull coat/ hair loss
  • Skin and ear infections
  • Loss of interest in play
  • Lower energy levels
  • Dry or greasy skin
  • Cold intolerance
  • Discoloration or thickening of the skin after hair loss
  • Reproductive problems
  • Slow heart rate

THE THYROID GLAND

The thyroid is a part of the endocrine system—one of the six systems that regulates the body's functions—and is located in your dog's throat. Just like the pancreas secretes hormones that regulate the body's insulin levels, the thyroid secretes hormones to control the body's metabolism, which controls weight and other metabolic functions.

HYPOTHYROIDISM

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your dog's thyroid gland does not produce or secrete enough hormones. The condition usually occurs when a dog is between the age of four and ten years old. Both males and females are susceptible to this condition, but spayed females are at a higher risk.

Unlike other illnesses or physical conditions, Hypothyroidism is not caused by a virus or bacterial infection. Instead, it is usually caused by an inherited trait that spurs an autoimmune attack, which occurs when the immune system attacks other cells or organs. When your dog's immune system attacks his thyroid, the attack causes his T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (levothyroxine) hormone secretion levels to drop. The thyroid usually responds to this attack by producing more T3 and T4, but eventually cannot produce enough hormones to maintain a regular metabolism. The end result is a dog with symptoms of hypothyroidism.

SUSCEPTIBILITY

Hypothyroidism can affect any dog breed, but there are a number of breeds in which hypothyroidism is most common. These breeds usually fall in the mid to large-sized category, including:

  • Dachshunds
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Airedale Terriers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Greyhounds
  • Irish Setters

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

Hypothyroidism is easy to treat, but can be fairly difficult to diagnose since a number of factors can cause your dog to be showing hypothyroid symptoms.

Your veterinarian will begin her diagnosis with a through physical exam, ask you questions about your dog's behavior, and conduct a complete review of your dog's health history. She will also take a blood sampling to test your dog's T3 and T4 levels, which can determine whether your dog is hypothyroid. In some cases, the only way your veterinarian can diagnose your dog is to give him artificial thyroxine and see whether he responds to the medication.

If blood tests show that your dog is hypothyroid, your veterinarian will prescribe a regular dosage of thyroxine, and will recommend regular check-ups to take note of your dog's progress. Once your dog is diagnosed and treated, his or her symptoms should go away.

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