Tuesday, February 24, 2015

PET HEALTH TIP #30- Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is an issue that primarily affects cats.  The thyroid gland becomes hyperactive and gives off too much thyroid hormone.  Hyperthyroidism in cats often goes undiagnosed.  However, in severe cases, the most common symptom the owner sees is a cat who has a voracious appetite, but is losing weight.  Often times, they will have an unkempt hair coat.  They also have a very rapid heart rate.  Other possible symptoms include: increased urination, vomiting, restlessness, and diarrhea.

The thyroid gland sits in the throat.  A normal thyroid gland should not be big enough to feel.  However, an enlarged thyroid gland will be palpable.  It will feel like two small peas on either side of the trachea (wind pipe).

Treatment for hyperthyroidism includes daily medication.  However, as most cat owners know, pilling a cat can be a very difficult job.  Some cats will take the pills if they are hidden in food (i.e. hotdog, bread, cheese).  Another good way to pill a cat is to put it in the back of the throat and then squirt water into the cat’s mouth.  This accomplishes two things.  First, the cat will be forced to swallow; and second, the water will cause the pill to slide down the cat’s throat making it more comfortable for the cat.

Irradiation of the thyroid gland is another treatment option that is safe and is actually a cure.  There are special clinics that will irradiate the thyroid gland.  It is a completely painless process.  The cat usually stays in the hospital for a few days in order to eliminate any radioactive waste.  Then they can go home and resume a normal life.  This treatment is the ideal treatment for hyperthyroidism.  However, it is also the most expensive and there are not that many clinics that are licensed to do it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

PET HEALTH TIP #29- Hypothyroidism

Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Miniature Schnauzers are the breeds most commonly found to develop hypothyroidism.  The thyroid gland is found in the throat.  Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone.  Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs are similar to those seen in people.  The dog will have excessive weight gain.  The skin will be dry and flaky.  The hair becomes brittle and falls out easily.  There may be areas of hair loss (alopecia), especially on chest, neck, and body.  Often times the dog will also have a very low energy level.

Diagnosis is through a blood test that measures the level of thyroid hormone and function of the thyroid gland.

Treatment includes hormone replacement therapy.  Dogs do very well on thyroid medication.  The dose of medication needed varies, and your dog will need to have his thyroid levels checked regularly to ensure he is on the right dose of medication.  Once started on the medication, dogs will do very well and can lead long and happy lives.