Hypothyroidism is a common condition in dogs that can lead to unexplained weight gain, skin and coat issues, as well as behavioral changes and reduced energy. Today our Egg Harbor Township vets share some information about hypothyroidism in dogs and some of the natural treatment options available.
What is hypothyroidism in dogs?
Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your pup's thyroid isn't producing enough essential thyroid hormones to regulate their metabolism, causing the metabolism to slow.
What causes hypothyroidism in dogs?
The vast majority of cases of hypothyroidism in dogs are caused by either lymphocytic thyroiditis or idiopathic atrophy of the thyroid gland. While these conditions are poorly understood both result in damage to the dog's thyroid. In the case of lymphocytic thyroiditis, the dog's own immune system attacks the thyroid, whereas with idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy thyroid tissue is replaced by fat.
There are a number of claims that hypothyroidism may be caused by external factors such as a raw food diet, standard commercial dog food diet, vaccines, lawn chemicals, choke collars, environmental toxins, phthalates in dog chew toys, PCBs, and antibacterial agents in soaps. The theories behind most of these claims are based on the fact that each of these factors is believed to affect the thyroid and endocrine system in different ways. That said, further studies must be done before any strong conclusions can be drawn.
What are the signs of hypothyroidism in dogs?
Because hypothyroidism causes your pet's metabolism to slow almost every organ in your pup's body is affected by the disease. If your pooch is suffering from hypothyroidism you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Lack of energy, lethargy
- Mental dullness
- Cold intolerance
- Thinning coat
- Dull looking fur
- Dark pigmentation of the skin
- Recurring ear infections
- Recurring skin infections
- High cholesterol
- Slow heart rate
- Lack of coordination
- Thickening of skin
- Reproductive issues
If your dog is displaying any of the symptoms listed above they may be experiencing the effects of hypothyroidism. Contact your vet to book an appointment for your dog.
If your vet suspects that your dog has hypothyroidism they will do a full physical examination of your dog and run a series of blood tests to check your pup's levels of thyroid hormones T4 and T3. There are other conditions that mimic the symptoms of hypothyroidism, meaning that diagnostic testing may be pretty extensive in order to get a definitive diagnosis.
How is hypothyroidism in dogs treated?
If your pooch is diagnosed with hypothyroidism treatment will likely include a prescription for the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (L-T4). It's important to note that it can take some time for your pet's hormone levels to reach just the right level, and regular blood tests may be required in order to monitor your dog's treatment progress. Once the hormone levels are stabilized your dog will remain on this prescription for life.
Natural Treatments For Hypothyroidism in Dogs
While medication may be at the top of the list when you think about the options for treated hypothyroidism, there are also a number of natural or holistic veterinary solutions that can help improve your dog's quality of life such as:
There are many plants and herbs that may help to improve thyroid and immune function for your pet such as:
- Coleus forskohlii (Forskolin)
- Schisandra Berry
Do not begin to treat your dog with herbs unless under the direction of a vet. Your vet will be able to determine the appropriate dosage for your dog.
While hypothyroidism in dogs may be managed by homeopathic remedies, you should only do so under the recommendation of a vet.
Visit your vet or do a search for homeopathic vets in the Egg Harbor Township area to get started. You will begin with a consultation with the vet who will assess the overall health of your dog prior to making any recommendations for treatment or medicines.
3. Nutraceuticals And Glandulars
Nutraceuticals or glandular supplements, such as iodine, selenium or zinc, might be a holistic option suggested by your vet or the holistic vet that you see. These nutrients offer benefits that may help to support the thyroid health of your dog. Selenium and zinc help convert T4 to T3 and iodine plays an important role in the proper function of your dog's thyroid.
4. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a similar goal to homeopathy by taking a patient-centered approach to thyroid disease. The first step that your vet will take in TCVM is to identify any issues or imbalances that are present in your pup's body. Your vet will then make a recommendation for treatment using a special combination of diet, Chinese herbs, and acupuncture.
Speak with your regular vet or look up TCVM vets in Egg Harbor Township to get started.
5. Food For Hypothyroidism
It is important for dogs living with hypothyroidism to eat a complete diet containing amino acids, iodine, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If you are unsure of which food may work best for your dog and their specific needs please speak with your vet.
There may be certain situations where your vet will agree to a homemade holistic diet for hypothyroidism as long as the nutritional needs of your pup are being met.
There are also many options for low-fat prescription dog food that contains everything that your dog will need to stay healthy along with a combination of vitamins and minerals to help manage their hypothyroidism.
You can also add a variety of fresh veggies to your dog's meals that may help alleviate the symptoms they experience. Some of these vegetables are asparagus, green beans, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, lettuce, mushrooms, and spinach.
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.