Canine Hyperthyroidism occurs when a dog’s thyroid glands, located on either side of the windpipe, next to the throat, produce and excess of thyroid hormone. This excess of thyroid hormone can cause the dog to have a decreased metabolism.
A dog owner should carry their dog to the veterinarian if they notice a change in their dog, such as it becoming lethargic, not being as mentally sharp as usual, or it has gained weight, lack of energy or more cold intolerant. All of these conditions are symptoms of a decreased metabolism. As this disease progresses, the dog owner may notice the dog’s coat becoming dull and dry, hair loss on the tail, one the neck and on other parts of the dog’s body that cause friction with other body parts. The dog may have heart problems including an increased heart rate and/or a murmur.
At the veterinarian clinic, the veterinarian will give the dog a physical exam, take its history, then draw blood and collect urine for testing. After studying the results and information gathered, the veterinarian may also have an ultrasound done of the dog’s thyroid glands, or have nuclear thyroid imaging to determine which thyroid gland is causing the problem or if both of them are to blame for the problem.
After the veterinarian has diagnosed the dog with Canine Hyperthyroidism, a treatment will be prescribed. Treament may be surgery, medication or radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine stops the production of thyroid hormone without damaging any of the cells in the area. Medications prescribed do not cure Canine Hyperthyroidism, instead they block the thyroid glands from producing thyroid hormone in excessive amounts. The problem with giving medications is that as soon as the medications are stopped the condition will return. Surgery is the most invasive treatment for Canine Hyperthyroidism. Removing both thyroid glands can cause a condition known as Hypoparathyroidism. Surgery is generally not recommended unless the owner cannot give the medication or the owner does not live in the vicinity of a clinic that offers radioactive iodine treatment.
Canine Hyperthyroidism responds well to treatment, making the prognosis very good. The key to a good prognosis is early detection by the dog owner and early diagnosis by the veterinarian. With this in mind, it is important that any dog owner, who suspects their dog may have this disease from the symptoms they have noticed, should take their dog to the veterinarian for a checkup. Even though Canine Hyperthyroidism is not preventable, with quick identification it can be successfully treated.