If your dog seems cold all the time, his fur appears dull, he’s losing hair or he’s gaining weight even when you haven’t altered his diet, your dog may have hypothyroidism. Although all the symptoms listed above may be signs of old age, they also could be indicators of hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid hormone decreases when the thyroid glands have either reduced in size or become inflamed.
Hypothyroidism causes a diminished metabolic rate, affecting the functionality of many organs in your pet’s body. Some other symptoms to watch for if you suspect this condition include a lack of energy, mental lethargy, ear infections, and skin problems, (dry, scaly, itchy or greasy fur).
Though hypothyroidism can occur in humans and other animal species, it is very common in dogs. Some of the breeds this disease often affects are: Airedale Terriers, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters and Miniature Schnauzers. If you own a medium to large-sized dog and he or she is aged 4-10 years old, your dog may have a greater chance of developing hypothyroidism.
Because hypothyroidism symptoms are similar to many other conditions, it’s not always easy to identify. Your veterinarian may run a special panel of thyroid tests to get a diagnosis. Fortunately, hypothyroidism is curable with a synthetic thyroid hormone. This medication must be given to your dog for the rest of his or her life, starting with twice daily doses and then reduced to one. Some breeds may still require two doses daily.
Usually, you will start to see improvement in your dog’s condition about four to eight weeks after your pet first starts taking the medication. Talk to your veterinarian to schedule follow-up blood tests to check when and if the amount of medication given should be adjusted. Your veterinarian may advise periodic blood tests to see if your dog’s body is processing the medication.