Is the family pooch getting a little portly, slow and lethargic? Without the usual tail-wagging vigour? There could be an underlying cause – especially if they are not eating more than normal. Unlike hyperthyroidism in cats, an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism in dogs can present with more vague signs and requires specific blood testing, so many dogs remain undiagnosed. Thankfully, a diagnosis and treatment can lead to a full reversal of
this autoimmune disease.
“Don’t assume that because your dog is old and chubby, that this is normal,” says veterinarian Jonathan Busch at Ourvets in Parklands. “There are many vague and (seemingly) unrelated signs, such as a dull facial expression, lack of enthusiasm or tiring easily. Additionally, it could manifest as either vomiting, diarrhoea, urinary and skin changes or lacklustre, coarse, thinning fur. A vet may have done a general blood screen but found no diagnosis.
“To diagnose this disease, we need to do a combination of specific tests. Signs only manifest once 75 percent of the thyroid follicles are permanently damaged.”
It can happen to any breed, age or sex, with a slight bias toward larger breeds and those over five years old. Jonathan has four patients on hypothyroid treatment that he diagnosed after suspecting the condition. They include two five-year-olds: a once depressed, overweight English pointer cross, without a greedy bone in her body, and a malamute. He’s also successfully treating a 10-year-old staffy cross and a 10-year-old golden retriever, who regained her figure after reducing from an unusually hefty 52kgs.
After an in-depth consultation and non-invasive blood test, a positive result means a twice daily dosage of tablets, easily administered – disguised in a tasty treat! This is the same type of medication a human with hypothyroidism would take. Research into this difficult-to-diagnose condition is ongoing and a new medication is now available that could make treatment even easier. Following initial testing and diagnosis, treatment can completely reverse the condition by providing hormones the thyroid requires to function at full capacity.
“The prognosis is excellent for your dog then to live a full-term, long and happy life.”
Find out more about Ourvets at www.ourvets.co.nz.