If your dog has hypothyroidism, your vet may recommend a combination of treatment options. In this post, our Los Angeles County vets discuss treatment for hypothyroidism in dogs, including medicinal and natural remedies.
Hypothyroidism in Dogs
Located in the neck, a dog's thyroid gland produces hormones that help to regulate many of the body's important functions. If the thyroid isn't able to produce enough of these hormones, it's considered underactive and can result in serious health issues. This internal condition is referred to as hypothyroidism.
The Beagle, Pitbull, Boxer, Maltese, Havanese and Dalmation are believed to be prone to hypothyroidism. This condition is frequently seen in dogs between 4 and 10 years of age.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
When there's a lack of the thyroid hormone in the bloodstream, this can lead to numerous changes in your dog's body since thyroid hormones help to maintain a healthy immune system, a normal metabolism and normal tissue repair levels.
Dogs with hypothyroidism often display some common symptoms, including:
- Sores and scabs on skin
- Weight gain without increased appetite
- Repeated superficial skin infections
- Muscle loss
- Slow heart rate
- Ear infections
- Drooping facial muscles
- Infertility in male dogs
- Black patches on skin
- Inability to tolerate cold temperatures
- Excess scaling or shedding
- Excessive dandruff
- Reduced physical activity
- Lack of coordination
- Lack of heat periods or miscarriage in females
- Darkening of skin
- Skin infections that do not clear up
- Rough, dull coat
- Thinning of fur
- Flaky, itchy skin
- Toenail infections
- Head tilt
- Fatty deposits in eyes
Diagnosis & Treatment for Hypothyroidism in Dogs
If your vet suspects your dog has hypothyroidism, they will conduct a full physical exam and run a series of blood tests to check your dog's levels of thyroid hormones T4 and T3.
Because other conditions mimic hypothyroidism symptoms, diagnostic testing may be fairly extensive so a definitive diagnosis can be made.
You may come across many sources on how to treat hypothyroidism in dogs. That said, it's important to always consult your vet before administering any treatment to ensure these don't interact with medications your dog may currently be on or aggravate other health conditions.
While hypothyroidism is not life-threatening, your pup will need lifelong treatment with synthetic hormones such as levothyroxine.
It's important to keep an eye on your pooch's health and schedule an exam with your vet if you notice any of the above symptoms, as untreated hypothyroidism in dogs can shorten your dog's lifespan. This is because almost every organ in the body is impacted by the thyroid hormone and by your pup's metabolism.
Dogs with untreated hypothyroidism develop a slowed heart rate, neuromuscular symptoms such as unsteadiness, head tilt and seizures, high cholesterol and decreased immune function.
Along with administering daily medications, your vet may also recommend changes to your dog's diet and you may want to consider natural remedies. Let's break these down below:
To help improve the overall absorption of nutrients and reduce strain on the organs due to filtering impurities, feeding your dog minimally processed, whole foods can help.
For a dog with hypothyroidism, their diet should include balanced levels of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, iodine and amino acids.
Natural fibrous nutrients such as carrots, green beans, mushrooms, cooked broccoli and cucumber may be on the menu.
In some cases, homemade food may be recommended. If this is true for you and your dog, your vet can provide you with recipes to ensure your pooch gets all the balanced nutrition they need.
Your vet can provide you with instructions for the best food to feed your dog with hypothyroidism and make recommendations based on their specific needs.
Part of treatment will likely include the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (L-T4), which will need to be taken orally on a daily basis for the rest of your dog's life.
Your veterinarian may prescribe nutraceuticals or glandular supplements such as iodine, selenium or zinc, which all support thyroid health. Zinc and selenium help convert T4 to T3, while iodine is important to a properly functioning thyroid.
Low-dose natural hormone replacement, homeopathy, fluoride-free filtered water and increased exercise in nature may also be recommended.
Regular blood tests may be needed to monitor your dog's treatment progress. Once hormone levels have stabilized (which can take some time), your dog will remain on this prescription for life.
Hypothyroidism in Dogs Treatment Costs
Hypothyroidism tends to be relatively inexpensive to diagnose and manage compared to other health conditions dogs may acquire, such as Cushing's disease.
Your veterinarian can provide an accurate cost estimate for treating your dog's condition, depending on their medication, diet, ongoing care needs and other aspects of their treatment plan.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.