DID You know that thyroid disease is surprisingly common in dogs and cats?
The thyroid gland consists of two lobes – one located on each side of the trachea (wind pipe). The gland produces thyroid hormone which regulates your pet’s metabolism – too much thyroid hormone speeds up the metabolism, whilst too little slows it down.
Over production of thyroid hormone is termed hyperthyroidism and is a relatively common condition in cats over 8 years of age. Affected cats tend to burn up energy too rapidly and lose weight despite an increased appetite and food intake. In addition, excess thyroid hormone usually increases the heart rate, potentially leading to abnormal thickening of the heart muscle and increased blood pressure. As well as the above, a variety of other signs may also be seen including hyperactivity, vomiting and diarrhoea. However the good news is that in most cases, hyperthyroidism in cats can be very successfully treated.
Under production of thyroid hormone is called hypothyroidism, and is a relatively common condition in the older dog. Lower levels of thyroid hormone result in a decrease in the metabolic rate, usually leading to weight gain (with no increase in appetite) and generalised lethargy. Other signs often include coat problems and recurrent skin and ear infections.
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is often more difficult than hyperthyroidism. However, once a diagnosis has been made, daily treatment with oral thyroid supplements is usually very effective in treating the condition.
If you are concerned that your dog or cat is showing any of the signs described above, please arrange an examination of your pet.