Treating Low Thyroid in Dogs

Low thyroid in dogs is a common problem, which can cause your pet to be sluggish, put on weight and lose his appetite. However, treatment is relatively simple, most commonly consisting of a daily pill.

Low Thyroid Symptoms

Your dog's thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that regulate many of the body's functions, such as metabolism, growth and development, and digestion of fat. Low thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is caused by the thyroid not producing enough hormone to manage all of its functions. This results in symptoms such as hair loss, excessively oily or dry skin and coat, lethargy, loss of appetite and weight gain.

Traditional Treatment

The thyroid produces two different hormones: T3, which is the active form, and T4, which is inactive. The T4 is absorbed by the body's tissues where it can then be converted to the useful T3 hormone and used in tissue-specific ways. Dogs suffering from hypothyroidism don't produce enough T4.

Traditional treatment involves oral treatment, the T4 hormone in a pill form. This pill, such as Soloxine, is given twice daily at least an hour before your dog's meal to allow better absorption. The pills can be given in doses of .1 mg up to .6 mg depending on your dog's age, breed and severity of hypothyroidism.

As your dog ages, blood tests will need to be done at least once annually to ensure that he is still on the proper dosage. As your dog gets older and his activity level changes, his hormone levels will change as well. Continuing to give a high dosage could result in your dog becoming hyperthyroid, when his thyroid levels are too high.

If your dog continues to show symptoms of hypothyroidism, or begins to show symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as excessive hunger and thirst, weight loss and anxiety, blood tests may be needed more frequently.

Traditional thyroid treatment is necessary for the life your dog, since the body will never produce a sufficient amount of T4. However, the thyroid usually isn't removed or shut down completely as it often is in humans.

Natural Remedies

For those owners who don't like the idea of medicating their dog for life, there are holistic treatments available for thyroid problems. However, they may not be as effective as medication, and blood tests should still be used to monitor your dog's progress. Because they are natural, though, they will have fewer side effects.

Bladderwack, a sea vegetable similar to kelp, is the most common treatment of thyroid problems because it has demonstrated results in controlling the activity of the thyroid without producing hyperthyroidism. It is also a primary source of iodine, which is crucial for a normal-functioning thyroid. Just make sure you know from where your bladderwack was harvested, as that which is harvested near popular beaches may be contaminated.

Astralagas is a Chinese herbal remedy known for stabilizing the endocrine system, of which the thyroid is a part.

Though thyroid problems are common in dogs, they are easily treated with a twice daily pill, which reduces almost all symptoms if given as instructed.