Does your pet have an underactive Thyroid? Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in dogs

Thyroid conditions such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) are more common in dogs than cats. Have you noticed that your dog is packing on the pounds, shedding hair and looking weak and lethargic? These symptoms may indicate a thyroid problem.  We take a look at the thyroid gland, common symptoms and how to treat this condition.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland consists of two small lobes situated in the base of your pet’s neck. This gland produces a hormone called thyroxine that regulates the body’s metabolic rate and makes it work faster. When the thyroid gland does not release adequate amounts of thyroxine, an underactive thyroid develops and results in a lower metabolic rate.   
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Are some breeds more susceptible to thyroid problems than others?

All breeds can develop an underactive thyroid, but some dogs are more susceptible to hypothyroidism than others. These are
• Great Danes
• German Shepherds
• Boxers
• Beagles
• Greyhounds
• Doberman Pinschers
• Cocker Spaniels
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How to tell if your pet has an underactive thyroid?

As the symptoms of an underactive thyroid are similar to other conditions, it’s not always easy to diagnose – however, there are some common symptoms to be aware of. An underactive thyroid usually starts around puberty and as your dog becomes older.

Common symptoms that you should look out for include weight gain, hair loss and shedding, dryness and thickening of the skin, lethargy, sensitivity to cold, decreased heart rate and overall weakness

Other symptoms that may also present include secondary ear and eye infections, facial paralysis, tilting of the head, pain in the joints, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, incontinence as well as an unpleasant skin odour.  

There will also be changes in your pet’s behaviour. You may notice that they are lethargic, listless and generally weaker than usual. Often you will find your pet lying down or sleeping a lot. Their heart rate will be slow and have low energy levels. They won’t be eager to be active or exercise and are sensitive to the cold.

Pets with an underactive thyroid can become depressed, anxious and nervous. They may suddenly become aggressive towards other people and animals. This condition also causes anaemia, loss of taste and smell and affects their fertility. Hypothyroid pets may also develop seizures.   
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What you can do to treat this condition

1. Consult your vet

If you suspect that your pet is showing signs of an underactive thyroid or notice a change in his behaviour, consult your vet for a thorough examination.

Your vet will run a series of blood tests called a T3/T4 panel to check thyroid levels. Hypothyroidism is not a life-threatening condition and with the correct treatment your pet can enjoy a good, healthy life.
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2. Feed a high quality diet

Pets with underactive thyroids tend to be overweight which when not managed can lead to obesity. For this reason, it is very important to feed a well-balanced, nutritious diet to keep your pet’s weight under control, strengthen the immune system and promote a healthy, glossy skin and coat.

Choose high quality vet recommended food or even better, feed your pet a natural diet which consists of organically grown ingredients.Try DoggoBone Active Raw Food or Vondi’s Cooked Foods for dogs and both in a variety of delicious flavours – visit the Feelgood Health Shop at Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town or call 021 797 0193 for more information.

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3. Incorporate more exercise

Exercising your dog regularly will not only help to keep excess weight off but benefits his overall health and wellbeing. As a lack of exercise decreases thyroid hormone production, make a point of taking your dog for regular walks, playing fetch or Frisbee or encouraging him to run or swim.
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4. Strengthen the immune system

Hypothyroidism can cause your pet to have a suppressed immune system. Keep your pet’s immune system healthy and strong with a natural immune-boosting remedy called Immunity & Liver Support from the Feelgood Pets PetAlive range. This herbal remedy cleanses and purifies the system, improves immune functioning, acts as a general tonic and also helps your pet to recover quickly after illness.
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