Cases of thyroid disease are on the rise in humans as increased studies cause more awareness of thyroid disorders. New cases of the health disorder are increasing with dogs as well. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are the two types of thyroid conditions found in dogs. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is over-active, and hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is under-active. Medicines to treat both conditions are available from veterinarians.
Hypothyroidism is a common health condition among dogs. However, it is treated easily when caught early. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, known as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). When there is a lack of T3 and T4 being distributed through the body, a dog can experience weight gain, fatigue, a dull coat, hair loss, diarrhea, dry skin, aggression, depression, constipation, skin infections and reproductive problems.
Hypothyroidism can be treated in dogs with one of two medications: Levothyroxine or Soloxine. Taken daily, these medicines work to reactivate the T3 and T4 hormones in the thyroid. The dosage of medication for hypothyroidism is adjusted according to the dog’s thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, which are determined by an occasional blood test. Levothyroxine and Soloxine do not cure hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, a dog will need to take thyroid medicine for the duration of his life .
Hyperthyroidism occurs in a dog when the thyroid becomes enlarged and produces too many T3 and T4 hormones. Although hyperthyroidism is not common among dogs, it can be a miserable and dangerous health condition. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include aggression, anxiety, fatigue and rapid weight loss.
The medicine to treat hyperthyroidism in dogs is Tapazol and is administered daily. Tapazol works in the dog’s body by inhibiting the thyroid from producing excessive amounts of hormones. Side effects of Tapazol may include vomiting, lethargy and anorexia. If any of these side effects are suspected, call the veterinarian immediately, as it is indicative of the dog’s reaction to the medication. Dosages of Tapazol are adjusted depending upon the dog’s TSH levels.
In rare cases, a dog will face surgical removal of the thyroid if medicine fails to work. This is usually a result of prolonged progression of the thyroid disease, and not a dog’s failed reaction to medicine.