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Hypothyroidism

Meet Max, a 5 year old spaniel cross who came in to see Anicare vet Michael in our Santry Veterinary Surgery in July of this year. His owner brought him for a check up as he was concerned with the development of hair loss on either side Max’s body. Max was also suffering with recent onset lethargy. He had gained 10 kilograms in 24 months, going from 23kg to 33kg! He was overweight despite having a poor appetite and his skin colour had become darker in the preceding few weeks.

Meet Max
Michael suspected that Max could be suffering from a condition called hypothyroidism so he took bloods to check Max’s thyroid hormone level. A couple of days later the result came back from the lab, confirming hypothyroidism. Michael prescribed a specific medicine to substitute Max’s thyroid hormone levels. Within a few weeks, Max was losing weight and had much more energy. He had his most recent check with Michael last month (pictured) and continues to do really well. Max will need lifelong thyroid medicine but his quality of life and life expectancy should not suffer thanks to an early diagnosis and disease intervention.
Hypothyroidism is a disorder in which the thyroid glands (which sit on the throat below the larynx) are  underactive and don’t secrete enough thyroid hormone. Since your dog’s thyroid glands regulate their metabolism, an  underactive thyroid generally means their metabolism is slower than it should be. If your dog has hypothyroidism, he/ she will have at least some  and often many of the following symptoms:
  • Lack of energy – frequent napping, lack of interest in physical activity and play, exercise intolerance
  • Weight gain without an increase in  appetite
  • Low tolerance for the cold (huddling near the radiators more etc.)
  • Skin changes – coat dryness, hair loss (alopecia) especially across the flank and along the tail,  discoloration or thickening.
  • Secondary recurrent skin infections affecting the body trunk or ears most commonly
  • Depression
The disorder is relatively rare in miniature and toy breeds,  and is more common in medium to large size dogs (e.g. golden retriever, Labrador retriever, cocker spaniel, Doberman pinscher). Most dogs develop hypothyroidism between the ages of 4 and  10. The disease is diagnosed, as in Max’s case, with a simple blood test. The treatment involves substituting the thyroid hormone levels in the body with a drug called thyroxine.
With proper care, your hypothyroid dog can have a normal life span and good health so call us at Anicare if you have any concerns regarding this or any other potential disease process affecting your treasured pet.

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