Canine Hypothryroidism Treamtent Options

There are two main types of canine hypothyroidism, primary and secondary. There are two additional types, euplastic and congenital, but these are far less common in dogs and tend to afflict only specific breeds.

The thyroid gland is located in your dog's throat, on either side of the trachea. Responsible for the production of hormones that control metabolic function, a malfunctioning thyroid is the most common reason for hormone imbalance in dogs.

When the thyroid gland produces too few hormones, hypothyroidism occurs. Symptoms include dark skin patches, hair loss, lethargy and weight gain. Primary hypothyroidism is responsible for most cases and usually occurs between the ages of four and six.

Any dog can become hypothyroidic, but some breeds are more susceptible to hypothyroidism:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Doberman Pincers
  • Dachshunds
  • Cocker Spaniels

Primary Hypothyroidism: The Most Common Form

Approximately 95 percent of all hypothyroid cases are primary. Primary hypothyroidism is caused by destruction of the thyroid, usually by lymphocytic thyroiditis or idiopathic atrophy. Lymphocytic thyroiditis is an immune-related condition and idiopathic atrophy occurs when thyroid tissue is replaced by fatty tissue.

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism

Blood tests are needed for an accurate diagnosis. Thyroid hormone concentrations in the blood will be analyzed and measured.

Treating Primary Hypothyroidism

Once diagnosed, your dog will begin a regimen of daily hormone replacement. During the early stages, you dog may need to be medicated twice a day. After control is achieved, the dosage is usually dropped to once a day.

Your veterinarian will conduct regular thyroid function tests to determine the effectiveness of treatment. Primary hypothyroidism treatment is usually very successful. Dogs live active, healthy lives with proper treatment.

Thyroid medications are available in liquid, tablet or chewable forms. The most commonly prescribed thyroid hormone replacement is L-thyroxin.

Secondary Hypothyroidism

When a tumor encroaches on the thyroid and replaces healthy tissue, secondary hypothyroidism can occur. Benign thyroid tumors cause overproduction of thyroid hormones, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Malignant thyroid tumors reduce hormone production as they destroy healthy thyroid tissue, causing hypothyroidism.

Thyroid tumors may cause neck swelling or difficulty breathing. If you feel a lump in the area of your dog's throat, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Malignant tumors are treated surgically. In some cases, external beam irradiation and chemotherapy are used as well. This type of dog cancer is a serious condition and the prognosis for a full recovery is guarded.

Iodine deficiencies can cause abnormal growth or destruction of thyroid tissue. Congenital hypothyroidism affects Giant Schnauzers and German Shepherd Dogs. These are both relatively rare conditions and are treated with supplemental hormones in a fashion similar to primary hypothyroidism.

Herbal products can help support thyroid function. Astragalus is an all-around endocrine system tonic. Eleutherococcus, another herbal product, may increase energy levels in lethargic, hypothyroidic dogs. Urtica can be used to promote a healthy metabolism and it contains high levels of beneficial vitamins like A, B and C.

Thyroid disorders are fairly common in dogs, and treatment options offer an excellent prognosis in most cases.