Thyroid Disease is a common problem in aging dogs and cats, although the two species typically have opposite thyroid disorders. DOGS tend towards hypothyroidism, or low thyroid levels. This can cause weight gain, hair loss (alopecia) and other skin conditions, lethargy, inactivity, mental dullness, heat-seeking behavior, and more. On the other hand, CATS usually develop hyperthyroidism, or increased thyroid levels. Symptoms include weight loss, increased appetite and thirst, vomiting and/or diarrhea, rapid heart rate, and hyperactivity. Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to heart murmurs, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, retinal detachment, and even death.
How is it diagnosed? If Dr. Claus or Dr. Evert suspects thyroid disease, she will recommend bloodwork to determine the levels of circulating thyroid hormone in your pet’s bloodstream. Early thyroid changes are often detected when your pet has its annual blood panel run. If the levels are “borderline”, the doctor will often recommend rechecking thyroid levels in six months to see if it is progressing or remaining steady.
How is it treated? Dogs are treated with a thyroid supplement called L-thyroxine, and cats treated with Methimazole, a drug that suppresses thyroid function. Both cats and dogs are usually given the pills twice a day, typically for life. Annual bloodwork is necessary to monitor thyroid function while on medication.
Prognosis? With treatment and monitoring, pets with thyroid disease can live long, healthy lives for years after diagnosis. Thyroid disease is one of the most common health problems we see at Claus Paws, and fortunately it is often one of the most easily treated conditions as well. If you notice changes in your pet’s appearance, activity, or appetite, please call us and schedule an appointment!