Hope for hypothyroidism?

by Robert B. Duncan
Spring Branch Veterinary Hospital


What does hypothyroidism mean?

Hypothyroidism means an underactive thyroid gland or decreased amount of thyroid hormone (T4) production.

What does thyroid hormone (T4) do?

One of the main purposes of T4 is to help maintain a healthy metabolic rate.  This is the rate at which calories are routinely burned or used.   T4 also is important for skin health as well as mental alertness.

Can both cats and dogs get hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is almost always a disease of dogs only.   Large breed dogs such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are slightly more at risk of this disease compared to small and medium sized dogs.

What symptoms would my dog show if he/she had hypothyroidism?

Common symptoms of Hypothyroidism include weight gain, reduced activity, lethargy, and skin disease.

How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?

Hypothyroidism is usually diagnosed with a blood profile which measures the amount of thyroid hormone.   This blood profile normally takes 2 to 3 days to get results.

How is hypothyroidism treated and what  should I expect if my dog has it?

Treatment of hypothyroidism involves administering a thyroid hormone supplement twice daily.   The medication is usually easily administered as it comes in the form of a chewable tablet.   Once thyroid levels have been stabilized, T4 levels are usually checked every 6 months.   The dose of the thyroid supplement may change periodically throughout the patient’s  life.  As long as these dogs are maintained on the appropriate medication and are monitored every 6 months, there is an excellent chance they will live a “normal” life!