Both cats and dogs can be affected by hyperthyroidism. For cats, this occurs as a result of an overproduction of the thyroid hormone thyroxine, which increases their metabolism. Dogs on the other hand, usually get hyperthyroidism from either a result of a medication that was given to them to combat underproduction of thyroid hormones, or through a tumor of the thyroid.
In normal instances, the thyroid gland will produce thyroid hormones for use in the pet’s body in conjunction with the pituitary gland. These hormones regulate chemical processes occurring in the cells throughout the animal’s body. Hyperthyroidism will happen if too many of these hormones are produced, throwing the body’s processes into an accelerated state which increases metabolism, anxiety, diarrhea, weight loss and many other symptoms.
What Are Some Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?
Weight loss combined with an increased appetite is the most common sign of hyperthyroidism in pets. Additional symptoms include:
• Rapid breathing/difficulty breathing
• Excessive thirst
• Increased urination
• Enlarged thyroid gland (neck lump)
Sometimes however, canines with hyperthyroidism will have the exact opposite of some of these symptoms, along with weakness, depression, loss of appetite and general apathy.
How is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed?
For cats, hyperthyroidism can cause symptoms that are similar to other diseases that usually affect older cats, such as kidney failure, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal cancer. A veterinarian will likely order a urinalysis and complete blood chemistry panel to rule out other potential problems before coming to a positive diagnosis through a blood test that looks for elevated thyroxine in the blood.
For dogs, a preliminary diagnosis can be made based on the doctor palpating the enlarged thyroid gland through the pet’s skin. After this, a number of tests will likely be ordered, which include a urinalysis and complete blood count. If there is a high concentration of thyroxine in the blood, this is usually enough to confirm a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Other tests may be performed which include a thyroid gland scintigraphy among others, and X-rays may be used to determine the potential metastasis of a thyroid tumor.
How is Hyperthyroidism Treated?
For those dogs with elevated thyroid hormone levels caused by over-medication for hyperthyroidism, an adjustment of their medications may be enough to solve the problem. If there is a tumor on the thyroid, surgery and sometimes radiation therapy will be necessary.
For cats, there are three typical treatment options:
• Oral administration of a medication for the remainder of the pet’s life
• Surgical removal of the affected gland or tumor
• Administration of radioactive iodine
At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from hyperthyroidism, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact us at our following locations: