Hypothyroid Medication for Dogs

Hypothyroidism is a serious condition that may affect canines and is caused by insufficient levels of the thyroid hormone in the dog's body. The condition may be managed with hypothyroid medication. However, the condition must be first diagnosed and the treatment should be suitable for the condition of the pet; some pets may suffer from severe hypothyroidism that requires a higher dosage of medication while other dogs may do well with a lower dosage. The dog must be monitored throughout the treatment.

Hypothyroidism Diagnosis

If your pet displays symptoms such as lethargy, dry skin, dull coat, constipation, lack of appetite or pale gums, these symptoms may point to hypothyroidism, so you need to consult the vet.

The vet will assess the dog's condition and will test the levels of thyroid hormones.

The vet may also perform a few x-rays or ultrasounds to assess the condition of the thyroid glands, located at the base of the dog's throat. There may be tumors or other problems causing the deficit of thyroid hormones.

Treatment Options

The hypothyroidism may be primary or secondary (caused by an underlying condition). Both the primary and the secondary hypothyroidism need to be treated with a medication known as thyroxine or thyroxin, which is a thyroid hormone replacement. This medication is only available through prescription and shouldn't be administered to the dog without the recommendation of the vet.

If the hypothyroidism is caused by a tumor, the dog needs to be treated for this condition first. If the dog has a tumor, the vet should biopsy the tumor to establish if it contains cancerous cells. A cancerous tumor will require chemotherapy and should be removed, if possible.

Hypothyroid Medication

Thyroxin or thyroxine is available in liquid form, as pills or chewable tablets that may be added to the dog's food or administered inside a treat.

If the dog requires intravenous fluids, the medication may be combined with the intravenous fluids administered.

Medication Dosage

The hypothyroid medication dosage should be established by the vet. The vet will consider the severity of the thyroid hormone deficit, the age, the sex and the weight of the dog when determining the medication dosage.

The drugs should be administered once every 12 hours, so that these provide a supplementation of the thyroid hormones. The dog needs to be monitored and the vet will determine if the dosage is right or should be modified.

The dosage may be lowered if the dog shows signs of improvement. Periodical tests will be performed to monitor the levels of thyroid hormones in the pet.

The dog will require medication for life.

Side Effects of Hypothyroid Medication

The pet should respond to medication within the first few days after the treatment is started. Some of the common side effects of the hypothyroid medication include:

  • Hyperactivity, for the first few weeks, until the body gets used to the medication
  • Weight gain, initially, but the fat will turn into muscles in time
  • Acne, if the dosage is too high
  • Irregular heart beat