Hypothyroidism In Giant Breeds
If you’ve been here for awhile, you know that we worried about Mauja having an issue with her thyroid recently. While she was showing many of the classic symptoms, her blood work came back normal. I’m looking at that as a positive and hoping that there isn’t something worse going on. When we were worried about the possibility of hypothyroidism, I did a lot of research and I want to share some key points with you.
Hypothyroidism is the lowered production and release of T3 and T4 hormones by the thyroid gland. Both of these hormones are required for normal metabolism in the body. While any dog has the potential to develop hypothyroidism, it is most commonly seen in medium to large sized dogs. Of the giant breeds, Great Danes are most likely to be afflicted with hypothyroidism.
Most cases of hypothyroidism in dogs are of unknown origin, but dogs can develop the condition due to a congenital disease, iodine deficiency, cancer, or as an after-effect of a medical treatment, such as surgery.
Symptoms vary for each dog, but here are a few common signs:
- Lack of activity
- Weight gain (unexplained)
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Dry coat
- Recurring skin infections
- Cold intolerance
- Excessive shedding
- Mental dullness
A few steps will be taken in order to diagnose your dog with hypothyroidism. First, your vet will perform a physical exam on your dog. During the exam, it will be important to inform your vet of your dog’s health history so he/she can consider background symptoms.
Several tests will then be conducted to determine if hypothyroidism is, in fact, the reason behind your dog’s symptoms. These tests can include a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urine exam. An informed diagnosis can be made from these tests, but it’s important to also complete endocrine testing. Endocrine testing will examine the T3 and T4 levels to determine if they are low, suggesting hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is usually a life-long condition, but thankfully it has highly successful treatment methods. Carefully administered medication (synthetic hormones) and appropriate dietary measures are typically sufficient in managing hypothyroidism.
Once beginning treatment, the symptoms, including inactivity and mental dullness, should resolve after a few months. However, it’s still important to regularly meet with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is receiving the appropriate medication dosage.
While I’m thankful Mauja does not have hypothyroidism, it is a very common condition that I’m sure I will encounter in the future. Have you ever had a dog with hypothyroidism? Do you have any tips for those struggling?