All About Hyperthyroidism in Dogs : Signs, Symptoms & Treatment Advice
Our thyroids are responsible for regulating so many of our bodily functions like metabolism and temperatures, and our dogs’ thyroids are just as important.
Dog hyperthyroidism is a rare problem that canines have that impacts their thyroid and finding out that your pet is a sufferer can be concerning.
What is dog hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid, and it means that this integral body part is producing too much of a specific hormone. When a dog has hyperthyroidism, it can be a part of something more serious and requires medication attention, so knowing the signs is important.
If your pet has recently been given the diagnosis that they have hyperthyroidism or you suspect something is up, it’s a good idea to get educated.
This guide to dog hyperthyroidism will cover all the basics including symptoms to look out for, the most vulnerable dog breeds, how to treat and care for a canine that has it.
What is the Thyroid?
Humans and dogs both have thyroids and the condition of hyperthyroidism is something both experience as well.
The thyroid is a gland located in the neck and this gland produces a hormone called thyroxine, and others, and it’s responsible for many of the bodily functions that a dog has.
What makes the thyroid so important is that it helps to regulate body temperature and metabolism. When it’s out of whack, these functions will start to suffer, and it can have lead to other health issues.
A dog with hyperthyroidism will usually have the condition due to another serious issue, like the development of thyroid carcinoma, which needs to be tended to immediately.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid secretes too much of these hormones, and hypothyroidism is when it doesn’t secrete enough. Both are treated differently and hypothyroidism isn’t considered as serious, but it’s still worth being aware of.
The symptoms can be similar though, and largely have to do with gastrointestinal issues.
What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Problems in Dogs?
A dog with hyperthyroidism will usually show some tell-tale signs that make it easier for the owner to sense that something is wrong.
However, at first, the condition can be symptomless. If you notice any of the following with your pooch, getting them checked out by their vet is the best first step.
- A lump on the underside of their neck
- Sudden or noticeable weight loss
- Increased appetite and eating faster
- Increase thirst that never seems to be quenched
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- An increased number of stools for your dog
- Gagging during and after meals
- Swelling of the face and around the thyroid gland
- Rapid heart rate or heart murmurs
- Testing that shows congestive heart failure or an enlarged heart
- Changes in bark, including strange noises and changes in the volume
- Hyperexcitability or obvious increase in energy that’s not usual for them
Which dog breeds are most likely to get hyperthyroidism?
Issues with the thyroid are common in all types of dogs, although hyperthyroidism is less common than hypothyroidism, as well as being more serious.
With the latter, it appears that medium to large-sized dog breeds are more susceptible to developing the disease at some time in their lives.
Owners with a dog belonging to the Irish Setter, Miniature Schnauzer, Daschund, Doberman, Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever, and Airedale Terrier breeds will need to be especially mindful.
These breeds have been reported as some of the more common ones to be predisposed to developing hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. However, all dogs can develop it which is why you need to be vigilant in picking up on the symptoms.
Regardless of the breed of dog, it can be hard for a vet to diagnose them with hyperthyroidism as many of the symptoms are linked to other conditions and can mimic the disease.
Your dog will likely need to undergo many types of testing to come to a conclusion, but being aware if you own one of the more vulnerable breeds is the safest approach.
Treatment and Care for Dog Hyperthyroidism
After noticing some of the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism, you should take your dog to the vet immediately and have them checked out.
Typically, the vet will start by feeling around their thyroid for a large mass or swollen gland which is the most obvious sign, but they might also check their heart rate to see if it’s rapid or faster than usual.
Blood tests will be able to confirm the hormone levels and give the vet a clearer indication of whether it’s hyperthyroidism, and there could be further testing to find out how severe it is and what the next steps are. Thankfully, there are a few options available to treat this condition at all stages.
The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is a prescription that can level out the hormones produced by the dog’s thyroid, to keep them comfortable.
From there, surgery will be scheduled to remove any tumor or mass on the thyroid, provided it hasn’t spread further. Other alternatives include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and iodin therapy, which can help shrink or remove the tumor
With the right treatment and taken as early as possible, a dog with hyperthyroidism can live a long and healthy life. As with most conditions, the sooner you get the issue assessed by a vet, the better the outcome will be, so keep an eye out for the symptoms.
Feeding a Dog With Hyperthyroidism
After visiting the vet and confirming that your dog has hyperthyroidism, you’ll need to then look at making some adjustments to their diet.
The best approach is to follow the guidelines given to you by the vet, which will usually include as much lightly cooked or raw natural food as possible.
A dog with hyperthyroidism will be particularly sensitive to processed foods, so avoid anything that falls into this category. These foods have high amounts of carbohydrates that can inflame the body, and put more pressure on the digestive system which in turn leads to more issues for the thyroid.
There have been studies into the correlation between the content of some pet foods and its influence on the thyroid of dogs, as some commercial foods are known to contain thyroid glands of other animals, so avoiding these is ideal.
A simple change in diet can have a positive impact on your dog in so many ways beyond just improving the health of their thyroid.
A Healthier and Happier Dog
Being aware of issues like hyperthyroidism and what to look out for in your dog if they might have developed it is all part of being a responsible owner.
When it comes to something as central as the thyroid that controls so many other parts of your pooch, this is one condition you want to get on top of right away.
The thyroid is a major component that regulates so many parts of our body, and our dogs as well.
To find out more about common issues that canines face that can impact their metabolism and daily diet, read on to see some FAQs and our expert answers.
How Often Should A Dog Eat?
All dogs are different and require different things from their diets, but it’s recommended that they eat two smaller sizes meals 12 hours apart each day. The amount and type of food they eat at these meals will be determined by their breed and activity level and should always be spread over two feeding sessions.
Does My Dog Have a Fast Metabolism?
A dog’s metabolism is usually determined by its size and breed, with smaller dogs having a faster metabolism that means they use the energy faster than larger ones. This is why you should schedule their meal times and size based on their weight and breed so you can cater to their specific needs.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Dogs eat grass as part of their standard behavior and should be allowed to do so when it’s safe. The most popular assumption about why they eat grass is that they’re doing so to relieve an upset stomach, while others think that it provides a good source of fiber and helps along the digestive process.
How Many Poos Should a Dog Do Each Day?
All dogs will empty their bowels at different times and frequencies and average between one and four a day, so there’s no set number that they all need to follow. What is important is that your dog has a regular schedule with their toilet breaks and sticks to this, as anything significantly more or less could signify a separate health issue.