Canine hyperthyroidism is a rare condition wherein the thyroid glands produce too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism is a disease common to humans and cats and is easily treatable, but for dogs hyperthyroidism can be fatal. That’s because hyperthyroidism in dogs is often a sign of thyroid cancer. Left untreated, canine hyperthyroidism can be life-threatening for your pet.
Dog hyperthyroidism manifests several warning signs. The most common symptoms of canine hyperthyroidism are weight loss with increased appetite and excessive thirst. That’s because the increase in thyroid hormone levels increases your dog’s metabolic rate to the point that your dog is consuming more energy than it can eat. Sometimes, your dog would be so hungry and eat so much to the point that it would vomit while eating. Your pet may also experience diarrhea because their body’s digestive system is working too fast.
Another noticeable symptom of hyperthyroidism in dogs is nervousness and hyperactivity. If your dog is always jittery and can’t seem to calm down, it may be a sign of an overactive thyroid. This type of restlessness is very uncomfortable for dogs because along with this symptom they’re also experiencing increased heart rate and shortness of breath. Dogs with hyperthyroidism also experience changes in their coat which could become dull, dry and unkempt as the disease progresses.
If you notice these symptoms in your dog, you should consult a veterinarian in order to confirm the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. The first thing your veterinarian would do is to perform a thorough physical exam in order to check if your pet is suffering from any other sign or symptoms that would help point to the right diagnosis. The next step in the diagnosis would be a blood test to measure the thyroid hormone levels in the body. This test would confirm the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. The last test would be an ultrasound or X-ray of the thyroid to see how big the thyroid tumor is and to see any other abnormalities that may be affecting thyroid function.
When caught early, canine hyperthyroidism is treatable without any major complications. Hyperthyroidism in dogs can be treated in three ways: medication with antithyroid hormone, surgical removal of the thyroid or thyroidectomy, and radioactive iodine therapy. The type of treatment would depend on the severity and symptoms of canine hyperthyroidism. For mild to moderate symptoms of the disease, antithyroid medication can provide immediate and long term relief. For severe cases where the symptoms are severe and the thyroid carcinoma presents a serious threat, surgery and radioactive iodine treatment. Thyroidectomy is a procedure that removes the entire thyroid gland or just the diseased portions of it. In radioactive iodine therapy, radioactive iodine is injected into the thyroid, gradually killing the thyroid and cancer cells in it. Both thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine therapy provide permanent solutions to canine hyperthyroidism and thyroid carcinoma in dogs.
There are also natural treatments available for people who don’t want to expose their pets to drugs, surgery or radiation. Herbs like bungleweed naturally suppress thyroid hormone production while valerian and lemon balm can help relieve the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Whatever treatment you choose, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to find out how each treatment works and which treatment would best suit your dog’s condition.
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