Hypothyroidism is a condition that can cause a number of issues for your dog, including weight gain and hair loss. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to manage once it’s diagnosed. Read on to learn more about this common condition and how you can keep your dog healthy.
Hypothyroidism in Dogs
Your dog's thyroid is a small gland located in the neck, just below the jaw and between the two collarbones. The thyroid regulates metabolism in all animals, including humans, and it's especially important to your dog because it helps control how quickly or slowly their body converts food into energy.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough of the hormone, thyroxine. The main job of thyroxine (also known as T4) is to control your dog’s metabolism, which means it helps regulate how your dog converts food into energy. Normally, your dog’s body uses T4 to make another hormone called triiodothyronine (T3).
When there isn't enough T4 available for this conversion process, the body can become unregulated, and many different symptoms can occur.
These symptoms can range from weight gain and skin problems to lethargy and other signs of poor health. If left untreated, a hypothyroid in dogs can lead to other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes time because there's not enough energy available for normal organ function.
Hypothyroid Symptoms in Dogs
Let’s dive deeper into the symptoms of hypothyroidism. It might not be immediately clear that your dog has hypothyroidism, as many of these symptoms could be related to other illnesses.
However, if you have a large-breed dog or if your dog is older than six years old, ask your veterinarian to do bloodwork to screen for hypothyroidism if you see any of these symptoms alone or in combination, even if they don't immediately recommend it.
- Fatigue: Hormonal imbalances can cause tiredness and fatigue, which is common in thyroid disease. Your dog may sleep more than usual, lay around all day, or have less energy to play.
- Weight gain: Hypothyroidism slows down metabolism and causes weight gain. This happens because the body isn't using food for energy as well as it should be because there isn't enough thyroid hormone available to use it up efficiently. This can lead to obesity over time, even though they aren’t eating more and may be eating less, so it's important to watch your dog's waistline.
- Hair loss: Thinning hair on their tail or body could be one sign that something isn't right with their hormones, so keep an eye out for this symptom if your dog starts shedding more than usual! You can also look for bald spots on their fur, which could mean they have a health problem like hypothyroidism.
Why Does My Dog Have a Hypothyroid?
You may be wondering how your dog could possibly develop hypothyroidism. There are a number of factors that contribute to this condition, including age and genetics.
As with any other condition, certain breeds are more prone to developing this condition than others, including:
- Irish Setter
- Great Dane
- Golden Retriever
- Doberman Pinscher
- Airedale Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Miniature Schnauzer
If your dog is older than six years when they develop hypothyroidism, it's more likely that the condition was caused by something else. In some cases, injury or infection can cause inflammation in the thyroid gland, which impedes its ability to produce enough hormone.
In the same way, cancerous tumors on or near the thyroid gland can also stop the gland from making enough hormones, which can cause hypothyroidism. Dogs that have been exposed to radiation during cancer treatment or other treatments may also suffer from hypothyroidism and other side effects (such as hair loss).
Finally, diseases such as Cushing's disease may cause an overproduction of cortisol, which affects T4 levels in dogs with normal pituitary glands (the part of their brain responsible for producing hormones).
If your dog has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you may be wondering how it's treated. Fortunately, there are several options available depending on the severity of your dog's symptoms.
The first and most common treatment for a hypothyroid in dogs is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT involves administering synthetic hormones that mimic those produced by the thyroid gland to help control metabolism and restore normal body function.
This type of treatment is typically prescribed twice daily for two weeks, followed by once daily thereafter, until symptoms subside or until a different course of action is taken by your veterinarian.
Oral supplementation with levothyroxine sodium tablets or liquids is another way to treat hypothyroidism. These contain synthetic T-4 (thyroxine) hormone, which helps control the body's metabolism so that it works properly again without doing more harm.
Alternative Natural Hypothyroid Treatment for Dogs
There are alternative options available, but if you are already managing your dog’s hypothyroidism with medication, be sure to make sure what you are offering does not interfere.
Kelp is a natural source of iodine, which is needed by the thyroid gland to produce hormones. When there isn't enough iodine available for the thyroid, it may stop working properly, leading to hypothyroidism. Kelp has a lot of other nutrients that are good for your dog's health and help reduce inflammation in their bodies.
Kelp can be taken as a supplement or added to food as a way to prevent or treat hypothyroidism in dogs. However, if your dog is already taking a thyroid replacement, whether synthetic or natural, they should not be provided with additional iodine or iodine-rich seaweed like kelp, as it could interfere with their medication.
In addition to its anti-anxiety and stress relief properties, CBD oil is one way to help your dog with hypothyroidism. When a product like Canine Cush is taken daily, CBD oil can help regulate the thyroid gland using antioxidants that can protect against inflammation in the body.
CBD has also been shown to help with many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism by balancing hormones, reducing inflammation in the gut (which can lead to digestive issues), improving sleep quality, and reducing anxiety.
In fact, studies have shown that CBD oil may be more effective than conventional medications for treating this condition. This is due to the fact that CBD oil contains compounds called cannabinoids that interact with receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors help regulate the body's homeostasis and immune responses.
CBD is not known to interfere with hormone replacement’s ability to work within the body.
The diet of a dog with hypothyroidism is very similar to that of other dogs, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you'll want to make sure your dog's food has no corn or wheat in it. These grains can cause gastrointestinal problems in dogs with hypothyroidism since they are harder for the body to digest.
Next, you'll want to make sure your dog's food is high in protein. This is because protein helps regulate their metabolism and keeps their energy levels up. Finally, you'll want to make sure your dog drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Water helps hydrate the body and flush out toxins.
Always Consult Your Veterinarian
It's important to consult your vet if you suspect your dog is suffering from hypothyroidism. A traditional veterinarian is likely to recommend hormone replacement in the form of medication or surgery, if necessary.
If you would like to try to handle the condition naturally, seeking the help of a holistic veterinarian may be your best bet. You can also look into integrative veterinarians who combine both options, from prescriptions to what to feed a dog with hypothyroidism, to determine what works best for your individual pup.