Thyroid Disease in your Vail Valley and Eagle Pets

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Thyroid Disease in your Vail Valley and Eagle Pets

Thyroid disease in your Vail Valley and Eagle pets is very common, especially as your pets age.

The “thyroid glands” are found on each side of your pet’s neck and produce thyroid hormones.  In cats hyperthyroidism, or “overactive” thyroid disease, is very common. Whereas in dogs hypothyroidism, or “underactive” thyroid disease, is common.

Feline hyperthyroidism is most common in your aging cats, with the most common being in cats over the age of 13. Hyperthyroidism is discovered when routine senior bloodwork is performed in your aging cat. The most common clinical signs in these cats who present with hyperthyroidism include rapid weight loss in the face of an increased appetite, howling and restlessness, increased water consumption, vomiting, rough hair coat, and in later stages, trouble breathing.

In cats, hyperthyroidism is most often due to a tumor called an “adenoma” which is almost always non-cancerous and is diagnosed by performing a thyroid hormone level in your cat’s blood. Often times, your veterinarian will recommend you allow them to perform a complete senior blood profile, including a urinalyses, to allow them to assess all organ functions, including the kidneys and liver, which allows your veterinarian to inform you about your cat’s overall health.  Your veterinarian may also suggest a chest x-ray and echocardiogram, as thyroid disease, if left untreated, can cause significant heart disease in your aging cat.

There are three main treatment options for cats with thyroid disease which include medication called “Tapazole” or “Methimazole” which is an anti-thyroid medication which must be administered to your cat the rest of it’s life. Surgical removal of the thyroid glands is also possible though risky . Finally, the treatment of choice is “Radioactive-iodine therapy” which is done in hospital, where the iodine is given as an injection and quickly destroys the abnormal thyroid tissue.  This treatment is only available in specialty hospitals where they are permitted to work with radioisotopes.

Dogs, on the other hand, develop “hypothyroidism” or underactive thyroid disease. This comes from a lack of production of thyroid hormone.  The most common causes of thyroid disease are lymphocytic thyroiditis and idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy.  The most common clinical signs of hypothyroidism in dogs include lethargy, weight gain, hair loss, increased pigmentation in the skin, recurrent skin and ear infections,  high blood cholesterol and a very slow heart rate.

Unlike in the cat, hypothyroidism in dogs is not curable but can be treated with oral administration of thyroid replacement hormone. The drug must be given the rest of the dog’s life and the blood thyroid level must be checked yearly, as your pet’s needs may change as it ages.

If you suspect thyroid disease in your dog or cat, please contact your veterinarian.

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