Canine Thyroid Disease

Canine thyroid disease is a fairly common condition affecting your pet's endocrine system. Cases range from moderate to fatal, and the disease itself has numerous causes and symptoms, making for a difficult diagnosis procedure. Continue reading for a basic overview of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment methods for this affliction.

What Is Canine Thyroid Disease?

The thyroid is a gland that secretes a number of hormones that regulate body functions such as growth and processing of the various nutrients in food. When the thyroid does not function properly, the results can be quite varied. Generally, your dog requires a healthy thyroid gland in order for his body operations to work as normal.

Symptoms of Canine Thyroid Disease

Some of the symptoms of canine thyroid disease are as follows:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Weight gain
  • Increased rate of infection
  • Lethargy
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Rashes
  • Loss of coat color or sheen
  • Foul smell
  • Behavior changes such as depression or aggression

The symptoms that your dog shows depend heavily upon his prior health, the severity and type of his thyroid condition and a number of other factors. Generally, if you notice any physical or behavior changes in your dog from the list above, and if those symptoms persist over time or worsen, he may be experiencing some sort of thyroid malfunction. Have him examined by a veterinarian for a prompt diagnosis.

Diagnosing Canine Thyroid Disease

Due to the high incidence of canine thyroid disease through hereditary lines, your veterinarian will first analyze your pet's family history, if available. Most breeders pay careful attention to thyroid health, but that is no guarantee that a genetic line will not have a certain predisposition to this condition.

Diagnosis of the disease itself is difficult to perform. Healthy and unhealthy dogs both have a great variety of hormone levels, so one individual blood count is not typically sufficient to identify and diagnose the disease. Rather, your veterinarian may recommend a drug treatment at the first sign of symptoms. If your pet responds well to a thyroid hormone regulator, this may be an indication of the source of his symptoms in and of itself.

In other cases, your veterinarian may need to confirm that your pet has abnormal thyroid function. A series of blood tests can help to trace your pet's thyroid hormone levels over time. Once your vet has established sufficient evidence of a thyroid malfunction, he can help to prescribe a treatment method for the disease.

Treating Canine Thyroid Disease

The source of the hormonal imbalance is difficult or impossible to address. Rather, your veterinarian will help to balance out your pet's hormones and reduce his symptoms through hormonal supplements. Depending upon the levels of particular thyroid hormones in your pet's system, the vet will prescribe one of several drug treatments to address the condition. The exact dosage and drug type depends upon your dog and his condition, and frequent monitoring is necessary in order to ensure the hormonal balance.

Canine thyroid disease is a potentially serious disease, but it is highly treatable. Be aware of your pet's healthy behavior and physique so that you will be best prepared to identify any aberrations due to canine thyroid disease.